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Dining at Selhurst Park: A Commentary from the Head Chef

Head Chef Justin Dodd tells us about the food Selhurst Park prides itself on, and what it takes to serve a diverse customer-base.

 

What would surprise people who haven’t dined at Selhurst Park before?
 “Our variety of menus. One of our biggest selling points is the Caribbean menu which is really popular within the South London community we serve. We’ve built up a large Caribbean customer-base through the weddings, birthdays and funerals we cater for who are looking for authentic tasting dishes. We have four Jamaican chefs who have helped create a traditional menu, things like our jerk chicken, rice and peas, and these dishes are as good if not better than anywhere else.”

What can customers expect from a formal dining experience at the venue?
“Consistent quality done with fresh local ingredients to a high standard is what we aim to achieve. We want people to go away from Selhurst experiencing the ‘wow’ factor and that the food was amazing. For customers to tell their friends “we went to Crystal Palace and we had the beef wellington and we didn’t expect it to be so good!” That is what we want people to go away saying.”

How often do menus change?
“Once a year we sit down with all the suppliers, get samples in, taste the food, see if there are any new products, see what we can improve on and then re-write the menus. We’ll often tweak dishes depending on the seasonality of ingredient and can be flexible with customer needs or special requests.”

How important is buying from suppliers sourcing locally produced ingredients?
“My butcher is from Penshurst in Kent, we get our fish from Billingsgate Market, and when we do serve it, our game is all from Kent. It’s the same with the cheeses we serve, they are always English and British. We try and support local produce as much as we can and buy English and British wherever possible.”

How much tasting is done before choosing key ingredients?
 “With things like meat especially, we’ll taste a range of products and then decide on what will be the product we’ll buy for the season. We need to guarantee the quality is consistent, so for example, we’ll trial and taste a strip loin of beef from Herefordshire, and if that’s the quality we’re looking for then we’ll buy it and serve it for the whole year rather than changing and getting different cuts of meat.”

Do you serve anything that has been premade by an outside caterer?
 “All of our savoury dishes are created using fresh ingredients and made in-house. The only thing we do buy in are desserts because we haven’t got a cold room or pastry chef to make our own. I would love to create a pudding menu but we currently don’t have the space!”

What sort of flexibility do customers have on menu options?
We can adapt the menus at any point. Normally with the Selhurst Park events manager, we work on menus when customers might have a specific request and we’ll then look at costs and how we can adapt the menu to suit their needs. We have our core menus; however, we can always look at what the customer wants and we’re really flexible in that sense.”