Rio 2016: The life of GB rowing team’s chef
We catch up with Omar Meziane, Executive Chef for the Great Britain Rowing Team to put him on the spot with some questions.
What is your Great Britain rowing team 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.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?
I have no idea! I genuinely can’t imagine my life not being a chef. It’s so all-encompassing and deep-rooted in who I am. I’d like to imagine that I’d possibly be a world-class footballer or a world-class rugby winger, but I can dream!
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.
Who’s your sporting idol?
I’m very good friends with England rugby player 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.
What one piece of technology is crucial to your job as a chef?
I’d probably say my little laptop. Although I’m not very technologically minded, I’d be lost without it.
What are your hobbies away from work?
I don’t really have any! I collect cookery books; I’ve got about 10,000. Food and eating and I enjoy going to the gym occasionally.
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!
Which event, other than rowing, are you most hoping to see at next year’s Rio Games?
I think it has to be the 100m final to see if Usain Bolt can retain his Olympic title, and to see just how fast he can go. It’s fascinating to see him play that game of not doing too well, and everybody questioning whether he’s too old, or is he injured; and then he turns up to the final and just destroys everyone. It’s got to be everybody’s favourite event.
In your opinion, what makes Great Britain rowing team 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 Great Britain rowing team 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.
Favourite place that you’ve visited in your time with Great Britain Rowing Team
It’s got to be Aiguebelette. Well, it’s the only place I’ve visited with the team! But it was incredible – such a beautiful lake in the middle of the Alps. The sun was shining for the most part, and it was just an incredible atmosphere. It was such a stunning place that I’ve decided to go back next year for a bit of a holiday.
When you travel with Great Britain rowing team 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!
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