Pledge your support
One of the first thoughts that crossed my mind when being asked to look after the MTN Qhubeka team’s nutritional needs was a phrase that I had read which stated, “make sure that the offering has colour, texture, flavour and is at the right serving temperature.”
Not what you would expect from the chef catering for a team in the most challenging cycling race in the world - what about nutritional value? Well, that is a given. I have had to do a lot of research and reading up on what is needed to keep endurance athletes at this level at their optimum performance level from a nutritional point of view. However, I believe the team’s eating plan goes beyond that. I quickly realised the importance and affect on moral a well prepared meal has on the team; after spending hours on the saddle, day in and day out, there isn’t much more to look forward to besides resting your posterior and feeling up with a good meal. That’s what is important to me, making sure the team recovers properly and consumes optimum nutrients but, taking it a step further, keeping it interesting and varied, but still healthy. There will be no banting on our tour bus!
Working with Dr Rob Child, the team nutritionist and Dr Carol Austin, as well as being in constant contact regarding the dietary requirements of each rider as well as their specific likes and dislikes has already been a learning curve, without the tour having even started yet…
One of my main goals will be breaking down each day with each meal, thereby ensuring that there is a variety of foods consumed whilst also ensuring that enough proteins, carbs and vitamins are included in each meal.
The most important meal will be the first meal they eat as they get off the bike; the first opportunity to recover from the days energy exertion and is vital in ensuring that the riders are raring to go the following day. The challenge, of course, will be that this will be served on the team bus which consists merely of two hot plates, but being a chef, I love a challenge!
Another challenge I will be likely to face will be the sourcing of ingredients each day. This excites me; travelling through France each day in search of the finest, organic, free range ingredients to keeps the team strong on the bike and smiling at the dinner table is a once in a lifetime opportunity which I am very excited about. The sourcing of these ingredients began in Lucca, Italy which serves as home base for the team.
I look forward to sharing the day-to-day experiences with the team as we make our way through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. A first for Africa and a first for me!