Richard Moody, Joint managing director, Catermasters
My worst job undoubtedly involved driving a mechanically temperamental van to the Isle of Wight for a client function about eight years ago.
Everything was planned meticulously - as you would expect with an important client function. We picked the van up from one of our sites in Northampton at 4am on the day and loaded it with lots of delicious food for the hot sit-down meal we were going to prepare. We then took to the open road and headed for the South Coast to catch a ferry to the Isle of Wight.
But at about 5.30am disaster struck. The van inexplicably started to pump thick black smoke from its exhaust before coming to a shuddering halt somewhere on the A34. Engines aren't really my thing, so after scrabbling around under the bonnet for a couple of minutes, I decided to call the van company. But as it was 5.30am, they decided not to answer my call. I therefore called the AA but they said they couldn't come to me because the van company wasn't registered with them. Helpful.
Having run out of options after four hours at the side of the road, I did a bit more tinkering under the bonnet and, amazingly, the van started - albeit reluctantly. Despite an unnerving amount of smoke still coming from the back of the van, we got back on our way and eventually arrived at the ferry, massively behind schedule.
We decided to keep the engine running for the short crossing to the Isle of Wight because I was petrified it wouldn't start again and we finally arrived at our destination in the middle of the afternoon. I've never been so stressed.
GETTING THE JOB DONE
It was then down to me and three other chefs to work at about 200mph to get the food prepared for the seven o'clock sitting. But I'm glad to say that we pulled it off with only minutes to spare - no thanks to that wretched van!
The event proved to be a massive success for our client and the events of that day taught me that you should never give up, no matter how much the odds are stacked against you.
Looking back I can have a good laugh about it. But we haven't dealt with that particular van company since.