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Thursday, July 18, 2024

What top football stars eat -According to their chef

Jonny Marsh isn’t nicknamed ‘The Footballer Feeder’ for nothing. Private chef to some of the world’s best footballers, he’s also a social media star – sharing easy-to-follow recipes with his 380k Instagram followers.

What draws people in isn’t just his upbeat ‘day in the life’ videos, where he explains how to go about making pasta from scratch, it’s the fact that he happily gives away the secret sauce – explaining how England legends, like Kyle Walker and Jordan Pickford, fuel their performances.

Marsh recently sat down with Men’s Health to share what footballers really like to eat after winning a big game and explained how you too can eat like a pro footballer…

MH: So, Jonny, tell us how you got this dream gig; cooking for pro footballers?
JM: I started out working at Le Manoir, Raymond Blanc’s Michelin-starred restaurant in Oxford, before trying to start my own business, which immediately failed. I worked a couple of other jobs, then I started helping a friend out at his restaurant in Manchester – working 15-16 hours a day. It was brutal. In the evenings I’d send out hundreds of emails, trying to scout private dining and event work. Then, an email from Manchester City football club changed everything.

I started with a couple of shifts, cooking for the chairman on match day. And then one of the players, Kevin De Bruyne, needed a chef over Christmas and it just snowballed from there.

MH: What footballers do you currently work with?
JM: Last year I was cooking for four footballers, but I’ve cut back to just two – [Manchester United and Denmark footballer] Rasmus Højlund and [Burnley footballer] Aaron Ramsey – because I just physically couldn’t keep up.

MH: How does it work? Do you personally go and deliver the food?
JM: So I cook for footballers at their house – and cook fresh meals for them every single evening. They’ve obviously got different likes and dislikes, but the actual build of the meals are very similar – high protein, a good amount of veg and carbs. I always cook for them in house the night before a home game.

I’ve had quite a few players who want me to pre-prep them breakfast, extra snacks and desserts. But some players just want a main meal – since a lot of the time they eat breakfast and lunch at the training ground.

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MH: Have you ever had any strange requests?
JM: When I was cooking for Kevin, he asked for a stoofvlees – which is like a braised beef and beer dish, which is really popular in Belgium. I’d never heard of it before, never made it before. But after that, I ended up making it once a week for him because he loved it that much.

MH: Do you make everything from scratch?
JM: Everything is made fresh. And if I physically can’t make it, I’m so honest, I tell them I bought it. I use a supplier up here that will do a drop off every two or three days of food so I can prep it all. It’s a restaurant supplier I’ve used for 10 or 15 years, so I know them really well – the food’s fantastic; it’s locally grown, seasonal.

MH: With the player’s busy training schedule, do you find they just want to eat the same things every single week?
JM: I have had a couple of players where they’ve had the same thing every single week for six or seven months. It’s not monotonous, but you know the recipes off by heart, and you do end up bulk cooking since it saves you time and you can just freeze the sources, freeze the chicken and then you’re just making the rice and veg.

MH: What are Aaron and Rasmus’ favourite meals, then?
JM: Aaron’s favourite is a chicken masala curry – he has it all the time. And he has steak, mash and peppercorn sauce a lot too. Rasmus, he loves a teriyaki steak. The very first dish I ever cooked for Rasmus was a whole chicken, pasta Alfredo and a orange and fennel salad. He said to me that he loves meat, and always wants to double meat, so I just sort of went a little bit overboard, and decided to cook him a whole chicken and see what he eats. He ate it all!

MH: And what about their go-to post-game cheat meal? What does that look like for Premier League footballers?
JM: They all like chicken wings after a game – or a pie. Eaton mess for dessert is something I make during pre-season, for something a little bit sweet.

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MH: So, what will be on his menu if England win the Euros?
JM: Once a month, I have a day where I make a beef Wellington. So it’s a big prep day, but it’s always a nice treat for them – so I’m sure if I’m asked to go around anyone’s house after the Euros, I’ll be making beef Wellington.

MH: And, finally, what lessons can our readers take from the diets of Premier League and international footballers you work with?
JM: I’ll give you two tips that I think could change everybody’s life in England right. The first is to buy a vacuum sealer and a water bath. They’re really, really cheap. And it’s a game changer in terms of prepping food. You simply fry your chicken breast, for example, skin side down.

Take off the heat and cool it down, add it to a vacuum pack bag, seal it so there’s no air in it and then cook it at 65 degrees for about about two and a half to three hours. You can then chill that in ice water and freeze it for three months and you can do as many as you want at a time. I used to batch cook 14 chicken breasts every single Sunday and I was then done for my main meals that week.

And the second tip would be to just cook your own food. Try to steer away from the processed stuff, like chicken tenders, and just cook your own food and that I guarantee you’ll lose weight or put on the muscle that you want.

This is contributed by Alice Barraclough to Men’s Health

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