100kg of chicken, 30kg of potatoes -- the secrets to fueling a sports team

2019-03-08 | Since 7 Month

Although Harlequins' star signing arrived at the club two seasons ago, he's yet to step foot on a rugby pitch.

There's no doubt for those at the west London club, however, that Omar Meziane has been worth every penny.
Tucked unassumingly behind a Starbucks café and a sports bar at the Harlequins' training ground, the team chef quietly goes about his business. While his corner of the kitchen is small, the food that comes out of it is plentiful.
With just one other chef for company, Meziane works quickly and efficiently. Over the course of the morning, fragrant smells begin to fill the air and piles of food accumulate.
On the menu today is Korean chicken -- and lots of it. Vast trays of legs and wings are coated in a thick, sticky sauce, alongside 30 kg of potato wedges and huge bowls of brightly-colored salad. Close to 100 players and coaches will assemble for lunch just after midday, and Meziane predicts little will be left by the end of the afternoon.
Size is not the only thing that matters when it comes to feeding a rugby team. In his 10 years working as a performance chef across a range of sports, Meziane's core ethos has remained unchanged.
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"When I'm cooking for athletes, the first thought I have is about creating delicious food. Trying to make them happy, trying to create an environment where food is king," he tells CNN Sport.
Meziane's CV is impressive. He cooked for the England football team at last year's World Cup in Russia, and the year before that was part of the under-20 setup crowned world champions in South Korea. His other former employers include England Cricket, British Rowing, and Harlequins' Premiership rivals Wasps.
On top of that, Meziane has recently released a cookbook alongside England international James Haskell. He is, so to speak, a man with a lot on his plate. The Quins players are keen to keep him at their club for as long as possible.
"We joke that he's our marquee signing," club co-captain Chris Robshaw tells CNN Sport.

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