Sushi with Schumacher: Former F1 chef on catering for sports stars

Every chef can attest to the fact that their job is extremely difficult because they are required to transfer their kitchen to a different country almost every week while also serving to some of the most prominent personalities in the sports industry.

Over the period of about twenty years, Dave Freeman, a former Formula One cook who is now the proprietor of a golf course in Norfolk, lived his life in this manner.

He catered to the culinary requirements of several of the world’s most accomplished drivers during his illustrious tenure at Tyrrell, Jordan, BAR, Force India, Brawn, McLaren, Red Bull, and Toro Rosso.

Dave, 59, served in the Army for thirteen years; he says it was a worthwhile experience “because you have to think on your feet.” However, his promotion prevented him from remaining in his position as general chef, and by 1997 he had lost interest in Army life.

He recalls that his brother’s acquaintance catered for the Williams-Renault factory hence,  he needed chefs to assist. That catering company ultimately partnered with Honda, during which time Dave spent a year honing his skills in Japan.

Dave, who was born in Harlow, Essex, but raised in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, reminisces, “It was a lot of joy, and the Japanese was a pleasure to work with.”

The hospitality component of Formula One has progressed by leaps and bounds since Dave began his career in the late 1990s, much like the majority of the sport has gone through significant advancements. From preparing meals in the garage to automobiles worth twenty million pounds, he reveals.

“When I first began, all you needed was a small hob, some utensils and chairs, tables and tents; it was essentially camping.” Although Dave distinctly recalls a fire that occurred in Brazil, F1 catering was undergoing a transformation at the time. Due to his prior experience in Japan, Dave’s expertise in sushi earned him the admiration of several prominent figures in the industry.

Particularly fond of Dave and his sashimi was seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, a racer. Dave holds Schumacher in high regard; he was involved in a skiing accident in December 2013 that resulted in his catastrophic head injuries; he has not been spotted in public since.

During his tenure in Formula One, Dave was assigned responsibilities beyond cooking. Due to the cost-cutting measures taken by some teams, he was occasionally entrusted with the responsibility of holding the pit displays that provided drivers with information.

Dave mentioned that he previously, assisted Brawn with the pit board because they were without someone to do it. He also once engaged in a few covert communications with his spouse, culminating in a pit board the question “Will you marry me?”  

There are no longer any activities that Dave participates in, such as making improper use of pit boards or offering maki rolls to the fastest drivers in the world. It was last year when he and his wife, Fatna, purchased Middleton Hall Golf Club in Norfolk, and he made sure to incorporate some references to Formula One in the transaction.