Since founding the catering company of the McLaren Group, Lyndy Redding has moved into several other areas of catering, including at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday, and the 2012 London Olympics. She became the owner of her former cooking school located near the McLaren factory in Woking, England, along with the star English chef, Gordon Ramsay. Here she spoke about her life in Formula 1 catering, particularly in its link to the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, the biggest for the series in terms of catering and VIP and sponsorship visitors. In Monaco, Absolute Taste caters to other team partners as well as McLaren.
On what the Monaco Grand Prix represents for her in her job as caterer to the McLaren Mercedes team:This is my 24th Monaco in a row, except for one, when I had a baby. Of all the Grands Prix, it is the one that has probably changed the least, because the security around the other races has changed. But Monaco, because it is still so accessible in between the track sessions and when the roads are open, is not hugely dissimilar to the early days, apart from the new pits. There is an experience, a feeling that I think everyone must feel, at the end of the race, when all the fog horns get blown on all the boats, and it's over - it's just a mega feeling. And I still get a bit of goose pimples - ''Oh my goodness!''
We have the normal operation here, we look after the team, but it is even bigger because all of our partners, all their board members come, we have all of the CEOs of pretty much all of our partners. So everybody is on edge, everyone is there wanting to have fun but pretty much everybody has a job to do. The Singapore and Abu Dhabi races are right up there, but Monaco still has that extra pizzazz.
On how long is the work day for the catering staff:Monaco is really long. It depends what day it is, but the longest day at most races is probably Friday. It starts at 6 a.m., doing breakfasts - we're open from around 7 and we close near 11 p.m. or later, with a sponsor dinner. But in Monaco we do the lodges, we do the McLaren apartment, we are doing six boats this year. The boat crews and the way the boats are designed they are used to looking after 12 or 24 passengers, but for the Monaco Grand Prix they will have a party for 60, a lunch for 40, and with their kitchens and staff they just cannot do it, as well as doing the breakfast and rooms and general crew catering. From the U.K., we bring about 18 people for the team and 80 people to come to do other work.
On how her cooks do their job in the confines of Monaco:The whole scenario of our world in Monaco is so bizarre. We have a kitchen on the Rascasse corner, so as you are coming around, underneath the lodge - just before the Rascasse - is the marquis, and that is our kitchen. So when you've got the cars going around, I've got 30 people in that kitchen chopping away. No one phones in because it is just so noisy. And when we do the deliveries to the boats, the food goes out the back, the tenders come up, a couple of guys go out with the food and go on the tenders to deliver to the boats.
On how her catering company in the F1 paddock differs from a normal catering service or restaurant:When I am recruiting for the staff it has to be a certain kind of person. It can't be that sort of, ''This is the way I do it and no one will tell me otherwise.'' We never say ''no'' to people. No one pays for their food here. Money doesn't talk. It is just pretty much whatever anyone wants when they want it.
It is all about the food, and the people, we just have a fantastic staff. And Ron's [Dennis] influence - ''to be the best at what you do'' is his motto - and that's what we do: It's all about the quality and being the absolute best. I think it is about the passion in every way.