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Chef’s Formula 1 travels around the globe

Race legends: Paul Gray with Eccles and Johnny Herbert, above, while Damon Hill joins the fun, right

Race legends: Paul Gray with Eccles and Johnny Herbert, above, while Damon Hill joins the fun, right

A chef is preparing for his next around-the-world adventure - cooking up meals for a Formula 1 racing team.

Paul Gray provides breakfast, lunch and dinner for the drivers, mechanics, engineers and managers of Marussia F1.

Last year the 37-year-old, from Bamber Bridge, attended grand prix events across the globe, from India and Korea to Canada and Monaco.

However, he was accompanied by an unusual friend - a toy dog called Eccles, which he bought for his nieces’ school project.

He says: “My sister has two little girls, Emily and Louise, so I bought Eccles for them and take pictures of him all over the world for their geography project at school.

“Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert had a bit of a laugh posing with him for me!”

Paul became a chef because he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, who worked in the hotel trade.

He says: “He had so many great stories - I never thought of doing anything else.”

The former Runshaw College pupil worked in Brambles Restaurant in Croston before jetting off to Corsica, near Italy, and the French Alps, where he cut his teeth as a sous chef.

He then went travelling in Australia, before returning to Lancashire to work at The De Tabley Arms in Ribchester.

After a spell at Heathcotes Brasserie in Winckley Square, Preston, he and his brother took over The Dicconson Arms in Arpley Bridge.

But he had been bitten by the travel bug, and soon headed back to the Alps, before applying for a position as the chef for the Marussia F1 Team, based in Banbury, England.

He says: “My father was ill so I ended up coming back at the beginning of last year. He passed away in March, just when I started the F1 job. He told me to stick with it and carry on whatever happened.

“It was a very up and down year with my father passing, but also you could say a very fast year. You go away for a week to work, then come back for a week, then go away again.”

Paul’s arrival coincided with the Anglo-Russian racing team’s best season yet.

He says: “Last year they did pretty well. There are 11 teams and they had always come last, but last year they came 10th, which was a massive thing for them. They got more sponsorship and a bigger commercial deal and the end of season parties were pretty crazy, with no expense spared!”

Paul says he mainly cooks English meals for the team, who will begin the 2014 season in Australia in March.

He says: “They can be away for quite a while so they do want homegrown food, but whatever county we go to, we do try and do a dish from that country.

“We have to go food shopping and we go to some crazy markets with amazing ingredients.

“It can be a long day - you can be leaving the hotel at 4am, depending how far away you are from the track, and you can get back at 10pm. But that’s not every day.

“When the races are on, that’s when we’ve finished cooking, so if you can see the track we’ll go out and watch.

“I’ve met the Marussia drivers and some of the other drivers walking around, and a good friend of mine is Jenson Button’s motorhome driver!”

 

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