Photo Essay: Cooking in the Paddock at MotoGP

Meet the Alpinestars team chef who works miracles with a hot plate.

  • Photos by Liz Barclay
  • Panini. That's what's for breakfast on race day.
  • The lunch feast is readied for transport to Alpinestar's hospitality tent.
  • Dario's Bolognese is sublime.
  • For every meal, Dario prepares two pastas.
  • And, he also prepares some intricate appetizers.
  • No meal is complete without shrimp.
  • Or, curry chicken.
  • The lunch spread doesn't fail to meet food pyramid standards.
  • Similarly, the coffee doesn't fail to meet Italian standards.

The paddock area of Austin’s Circuit of the Americas buzzes with revving engines and the chatter of  attractive umbrella girls. It’s mid-April and the premier class of motorcycle racing has come to Texas for the first time. More refined than NASCAR, but less monied than Formula , MotoGP has a distinct Continental flare. The races are quick—just 26 laps for the top flight of three—but the days are long and the activity around the track results in a powerful hunger among team support staff.

On this day, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has recovered from a significant crash to take pole for the first time in his short career (he’s just a rookie). His leather suit is rushed to a small mobile office and data pulled from its airbags to assess the reaction time. Mechanics busily repair the bike. Marquez shakes off the fall and prepares to return to the circuit. Around the corner, other members of the team are preparing something even more important: pasta.

Behind the scenes, tucked away from VIP paddock access areas, team chefs operate in elaborate mobile kitchens. Unlike their American counterparts in NASCAR, who rely heavily on grills and prepacked foods, MotoGP chefs turn lunchtime meals as elaborate affairs.

I feel like I am camping almost. I have hot plates, and have to fill up water jugs to get the pasta boiling. I have learned to cook remotely in this traveling kitchen.

Dario Sanna, the official chef of motorsports outfitter Alpinestars, has spent years traveling with the team. Dario goes above and beyond the carb-laden meals that typify sports training tables and incorporates his Italian roots and background into the food he prepares. He lays out a huge spread, from rigatoni Bolognese and tortellini with browned-butter and sage, to delicate appetizers and finger foods, including caprese salads and proscuitto. He tells us, “I feel like I am camping almost. I have hot plates, and have to fill up water jugs to get the pasta boiling. I have learned to cook remotely in this traveling kitchen.”

When asked about his culinary background, Dario explains that his father had a restaurant while he was growing up, but he only recently left the medical world to embark on a chef career. Throughout a day at the track, Dario serves the entire team breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet-style, and he does not cut any corners. He even takes personal requests from team member’s mothers (and even from guys on other teams who prefer his cooking).

Grab your own plate of pasta and catch all the action from this weekend’s Gran Premio bwin de España at MotoGP.com.

  • Diego

    Dario eres el mejor!! Todo exquisito! !

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