Any chef will tell you it's an extremely stressful job, so imagine catering to some of the biggest names in sport and taking your kitchen to a different country almost every week.
For nearly 20 years, that's been the life of Dave Freeman, a former Formula 1 chef who now owns a golf course in Norfolk.
During his distinguished career, he has looked after the culinary needs of some of the world's best drivers, working for Tyrrell, Jordan, BAR, Force India, Brawn, McLaren, Red Bull and Toro Rosso.
Dave, 59, served 13 years in the Army — good training, he says, “because you have to think on your feet.”
But a promotion took him away from his job as general chef, and by about 1997 he was no longer enjoying military life.
“My brother’s friend was catering to the Williams-Renault plant, so he needed chefs to come in and help,” he recalls.
This catering company ended up working with Honda and watched Dave ply his trade in Japan for a year.
“It was a lot of fun and great to work with them,” says Dave, who was born in Harlow, Essex, but grew up in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.
“There's a great little story. We were leaving the Suzuka Grand Prix. In those days, we were giving away our team's kit and one of the mechanics threw his jacket out the window and this fan was so happy and he put this jacket on.
“As we were getting out of the ring, this guy ran around the front and was stopping the bus, jumping and screaming, and he wouldn't move.
“Eventually, the bus driver opened the bus and came over and gave the mechanic his Rolex watch that he had left in his jacket pocket. I'm not sure this would happen in other countries.”
As with most aspects of the sport, the hospitality part of Formula 1 has come a long way since Dave started in the late 1990s.
“We've gone from cooking in the garage to £20m motorhomes,” he says.
“When I first started… you'd take a little cooker, some cutlery, and you'd have to rent chairs and tables and everything… it was like camping, really.
“Brake dust always looks like pepper, and brakes smell like things are burning.”
Dave remembers a real fire in Brazil, but the F1 catering system was changing.
“It's becoming more corporate: a more professional look, proper counters, signage, proper equipment.”
Having spent some time in Japan, Dave's specialty in sushi has made him popular with some of the biggest names in the network.
“A lot of them absolutely loved Japanese food: Juan Pablo Montoya—he had California rolls—Jenson [Button]Robbins [Barrichello]. I remember doing that for seven drivers and you're basically taking a little risk in terms of liability.
“Imagine the headline: ‘Chev Honda poisons the front five on the grid’.”
One driver in particular took a liking to Dave and his sushi: the seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.
“Even though he had nothing to do with Honda, he loved Japanese food, so his physiotherapist, Balbir Singh, used to come and bring him a plate of sushi after qualifying, and it happened everywhere,” he recalls.
“I bought this beautiful black Japanese plate so that Michael could make it extra special. This time, Unfortunately when his mother diedWe were in San Marino.
“He ate on the Saturday and came back to be with her, then came back the next day and won the race.
“I never got my board back, so the next race I said to Balbir: 'Where's my board?'
“He said: ‘Oh, Michael took it on the plane – he’s taken it home now’ and I joked: ‘Oh, that’s lovely, it cost me a hundred pounds!’” Five minutes later, the marketing guy comes running in with a check book.
“After a while, I saw Michael in Monaco and said to him: Where is my plate, you thief!” We had a good laugh about it.”
Dave has fond memories of Schumacher, who suffered serious head injuries in a skiing accident in December 2013 and has not been seen in public since.
“Michael was really great. In Japan, it was the last race, and it was the year it was Williams versus Ferrari and whoever won, won the championship, so it was really tense,” he says.
“Balbir came to the mobile home and said ‘Michael wants a picture’ – that is ‘Michael Schumacher wants a picture’, not the other way around!”
“I went into the Ferrari garage wearing my Williams gear and Michael came over and said: ‘Dave, I just wanted to say thank you very much. I want a picture.’ She framed it, clearly, and had him sign it ‘To my sushi.’
Cooking wasn't the only role Dave was tasked with during his time in Formula 1.
With teams running body crews to keep costs down, he was sometimes entrusted with manning the pit boards to relay information to the drivers.
“I used to do the pit board with the Browns because they didn't have anyone to do it. I used to do a few scams and at the end I asked 'Will you marry me?' to my wife on the pit board, but Robbins and Jenson weren't winning, so I ran to the pit wall in Red Bull.
“They saw what I was doing and let me go on their wall. It was in front of two billion people, so they were pressured to do it!”
These days, Dave is no longer abusing drill boards or serving up maki rolls to the world's fastest drivers.
Last year, he and his wife Fatina bought Middleton Hall Golf Club in Norfolk, and didn't miss the opportunity to drop some Formula 1 references.
“Because of my background, we've renamed all the pits after drivers' names, so we have Alonso, Schumacher, Verstappen, Hill – where we already have a hill on the track – Fittipaldi. The halfway house is now Pit-Stop; the first tee is lights out.”
One seemingly glaring omission is Mercedes driver George Russell, who was born just four miles away in King's Lynn. But there's a good reason, according to Dave: “He's not a world champion yet!”
So, if Russell needed any extra incentive to go out and topple the seemingly unbeatable Max Verstappen, the hole bearing his name on a golf course in his home county is on the line.
Dave was speaking to BBC Radio Norfolk Torque for racing Displays.
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