Bobby & Jens: WorldTour chef Hannah Grant is a master of cooking and logistics
Keeping riders happy and healthy for three weeks at a time is her charge. How hard could it be?
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Language barriers, poorly maintained hotel kitchens, a barebones staff (sometimes of just one), the job of a WorldTour team chef can be “almost mission impossible,” says chef Hannah Grant.
The Dane joins Bobby & Jens this week to peel back the curtain on one of the rarely seen yet integral parts that makes a WorldTour team tick along day after day for weeks at a times.
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A professional chef by training, Grant’s charge is keeping riders fueled up, healthy, and happy. But keeping her boss and her riders happy can be a clashing task.
Nutritional mandates from team brass don’t always match up with what the riders actually want to eat, especially when she first started the job in 2010. “Removing ketchup from the table made for outrageous panic attacks from the riders!”
Her job can be just as much about logistics as it is about cooking. Sourcing food while constantly on the road for three weeks keeps her busy. “It’s a time consuming job.”
And a grand tour isn’t just 21 race days. It’s rest days and the days leading up to the event as well. All told, it’s about a month of non-stop work.
Dealing with old-school French chefs at Tour de France team hotels, whose kitchens she has to commandeer each night, however, can be the hardest part of the job.
They would be less than accommodating. And being a woman didn’t help. “I don’t know why they would worry about me taking their job for one day,” she says.
The scope of the job has changed too, with top teams now bringing eight chefs to races, whereas before Grant was all alone. When she got an assistant that felt like the epitome of luxury.
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She takes her job very seriously, knowing the power of a good meal to restore rider morale after a hard stage. And she tries to make things special for the riders when she can, from special birthday cake requests to accommodating the diverse cultures making up a professional cycling team.
Also in the episode, Grant discusses the future of her business, her cook book, cooking at the Dakar Rally, how a chef can give polite feedback, and the one cooking tip that can improve your life in the kitchen.
Listen in for the full discussion!