Dave Freeman is one of the traveling band of chefs who feed the Formula One community as the sport travels to 19 races and six tests each year, across a season that takes him from late January to the end of November.
Now running catering for the Sahara Force India F1 Team, Dave first trained at college then in the restaurant trade for a year , then off the the British army for 13 years as a chef, in 1997 he left the Army and started in F1 with Tyrrell GP , he is now one of the stalwarts of the F1 community, a man known and loved by many people in F1 as he cooks and caters for the guys who make up an F1 team, up to billionaire team owners and sponsors who demand Michelin star quality food wherever they go as well as the team memebrs who appreciate good home cooked food.
As the engine behind the team, Dave often arrives in a race venue country a few days before the 85-strong contingent who make up what is known in F1 as the race team. He has a big challenge in front of him, feeding those 85 people three times a day for up to the six or seven days they are in-country, and then the hundreds of guests the team hosts over each race week.
“It’s a huge challenge, but it’s one I truly enjoy – if i didn’t, the travel and the time away from home would be enough to put anyone off,” said Dave as he prepared for the 2014 US Grand Prix. “The travel is hard but the hours and workload when we’re at a circuit are even tougher still, but I have to say it’s easier in venues like Austin which has probably the best choice of fresh produce anywhere we go in the world and of course everyone speaks English(well sort of!!!)
“When I arrive in Austin, or any race venue, the first task is to do the main shopping for the week ahead. That ends up with a bill that makes the cashiers’ eyes water, and if I could earn loyalty points in every country I could probably buy my own island or f1 team! When we’ve stocked for the week ahead (for the first time, we keep replenishing fresh items every day) it’s to the track and time to start work.
“We prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for the team and its guests and that can mean cooking for up to 120 people per day, often in an unfamiliar kitchen with a crew of three chefs and three front-of-house staff. They say an army marches on its stomach and that’s 100% true for F1 – I love what i do, it’s hardcore but it’s worth it when our team scores points and podiums, and I’ve helped them do that , but for me when I see a mechanic smile at the end of ‘Black Friday‘ when I serve him a nice rib of beef with yorkshire pudds the size of rear F1 tyres better than his mums and he says ‘Cheers Dave ,Top job ‘ for me ,THATS better than F1 points.