Q&A with Omar Meziane, GB Rowing Team (GBRT) Head Chef

 

GBRT FOODIE FACTS

Each week the GBRT gets through…

  • 1,700 eggs
  • 150 kilos of meat
  • 240 pints of milk

 FACT ABOUT OMAR’S TIME AT GBRT

In the last 18 months Omar hasn’t served the same full-day menu twice.

 

  1. What is your GBRT career highlight?

Going out to Aiguebelette over the summer for the 2015 World Rowing Championships, and finally seeing what it [the GB Rowing Team] was all about, and what all the hard work went into. I probably shouldn’t say this, but especially watching the men’s eight win gold like that was incredible, a really amazing experience. It was something I was really happy and proud to be a part of.

    2. Who inspired you to be a chef?

Growing up my father owned restaurants, and I remember going to work with him as a young boy, and just loving the atmosphere of it. I loved being in the kitchen with the chefs and just being part of it was quite amazing. I suppose when I started work I was lucky enough to work in some great restaurants with some great chefs. Everybody I work with inspires me; everybody I’ve ever worked with has inspired me.

  1. Who’s your sporting idol?

I’m very good friends with James Haskell, so I’m going to say him! Sir Steve Redgrave is an absolute legend, and even if you’re not a rower, what he’s done for the sport is quite amazing.

  1. What do you typically do on your day(s) off?

Sunday is typically my day off. I always have a lie-in. I always try and watch a film in bed with my five year old son. Then we’ll go and have a coffee together somewhere and a bite to eat, possibly brunch, followed by a walk by the river. We’ll maybe even watch some rowing! After that we’ll go to the pub for a pint, home for a Sunday roast, and then off to bed. And it’s pretty much like that every single week!

  1. In your opinion, what makes GBRT such a force to be reckoned with in world rowing?

From my perspective it’s the togetherness. We have that word ‘Team’ at the end of our title; in some sporting organisations that word can be very fragmented and it actually doesn’t mean too much. Here it really does mean everything. Everybody in the GBRT plays a really vital role in essentially helping these boats go faster in the water. If you take one tiny component out, it just won’t be quite so good. It’s a real honour to be here and it’s something that I don’t ever take for granted. I wake up every day and have this desire to want to be here, and want to make the Team better.

  1. When you travel with GBRT what’s the one thing that you rely on?

It’s got to be that little laptop again. I have this really crappy Asus laptop that is the absolute bane of my life, but I also love it dearly. It contains every part of my life. However, I didn’t take it to Aiguebelette, and I was lost for four days!

 

Omar has been working for the GB Rowing Team since April 2015, but prior to that his

experience of feeding elite athletes had come from working with London Wasps RUFC: “I had

my own recruitment agency and one of the jobs I picked up was to provide chefs for Adams

Park on match days. Somebody let me down one day, so I ended having to work the shift, then

a job came up at the training ground and, being a fan of London Wasps, I jumped at the

opportunity.

“Learning how to feed athletes was incredibly interesting to me. I come from a classical

background where everything is fairly ‘set in stone’ – a recipe is a recipe – whereas working

in this environment gives you responsibility and enjoyment at having to create new recipes

quite often depending on what is available and what the athletes have to eat”.

Omar works with Lead Nutritionist, Wendy Martinson OBE, to establish the kinds of food the

rowers need at certain times, before he sets about creating his menus: “Wendy gives me a

rough idea of what they need to be eating at certain times of year, so then I essentially go out

to market and see what’s in season, what fits in with our budget and then work that in with

Wendy’s requirements”.

Wendy also spoke about working alongside Omar, saying: “We work really well together, he’s

pretty self-sufficient. Occasionally I’ll ask for certain things at certain times, like more protein

at the moment because we’re doing more strength training, so he’ll work that into the menu”.

Omar Meziane was speaking on behalf of SAS, the Official Analytics Partner of British Rowing and the GB Rowing Team

Picture from http://www.thesportfeed.com/tag/omar-meziane/

Tom Morgan

Previous editor of Row360, publisher of Junior Rowing News, freelance writer for the Daily Telegraph, the Huffington Post, Vital Football and others. Student at the University of Southampton.

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