DFB chef on Müller and rice pudding: “There is no cheat day for the national team”

In the end, of course, the national players have to win the World Cup in Qatar, but the energy for this is provided by DFB chef Anton Schmaus, who has been preparing the food for the footballers since 2017. As part of the Drive.culinary table talks in Berlin, the chef explains in an interview with why there is no midnight snack for Thomas Müller, how many hundreds of kilograms of vegetables the kickers in Qatar eat up – and which dessert is the most popular among the professionals. Herr Schmaus, so that we can get the topic straight off the table: Which pun with your name has you liked best so far?

Anton Schmaus: Thomas Müller walks past and says: ‘That was another feast!’ But because the food usually tastes good, nobody makes stupid jokes.

In 2018, the national team crashed out of the tournament in the preliminary round, in 2021 they only made it to the round of 16 at the European Championship: Was it because of the food?

(laughs) I hope and believe that it wasn’t because of the food that we did. Nor will it be the food if we make it to the final this time. Food is always part of it and we support as much as we can, but at the end of the day the boys still have to play themselves.

Why does the DFB-Elf need its own chef?

There are several important points. First of all, the quality of the pros’ food should be the same everywhere, whether it’s in Qatar, North Macedonia or Russia. Most importantly, players know who cooked for them. That they can eat without hesitation because someone has prepared everything for them as well as possible and paid attention to their special requirements. Trust is an important factor. But I’m also there for the creative input, the variety at the buffet, and the nutritional component.

Nutritional component? sounds complicated.

I just have to offer what the players should be eating that day or that day. For example, if we have a double training session a day, I have to pay special attention to ensuring that there are really enough carbohydrates on the buffet. This creates an extra incentive for carbohydrate intake.

How do you become a national team chef? Did Jogi Löw call and you cook something for him?

There was actually a lot of coincidence involved. When my predecessor left the DFB, the physiotherapist at the time, Klaus Eder, recommended me. That’s how I got into conversation with Oliver Bierhoff and in the next step also with Jogi Löw and the entire coaching team. Then we took the Confederations Cup as a test run and that worked out really well with the win in the end.

The World Cup in Qatar starts in a few days: How does the diet of the professionals differ from that of amateur footballers?

As a hobby soccer player, the stress is only temporary. With the pros, we have to try to cushion the high degree of stress through nutrition. Or to help the body regenerate better.

So the post-game meal is just as important as the pre-game meal?

Absolutely. It’s extremely important for players to eat right after the game. When there is a high level of exertion during a tournament, it is important that the energy stores are sufficiently replenished: carbohydrates, vegetable and animal proteins. The professional has to keep at it – there are hardly any breaks – and can’t afford to slip up. There is no cheat day at the DFB.

What is a DFB court not allowed to do at all?

We no longer cook with cream or industrial sugar. For doping reasons, we don’t use poppy seeds either, although someone would have to eat a lot of poppy seed rolls for a positive sample (laughs). The fact that there is no pork to eat in Qatar is not a problem, because we almost never offer that anyway. In general, however, it is not about prohibitions, but always about the quantity.

Keyword sugar: Which dessert – which is usually very highly regarded by football professionals – do the DFB kickers like to eat best?

Of course there is also a dessert every day. Again, it’s all about the quantity, 25 grams won’t kill anyone. Our desserts are mostly vegan and if so, sweetened with coconut blossom sugar. The favorite dessert of the DFB players is rice pudding. It’s a ritual that has to be there.

Do you have an on-call duty at the tournament if Thomas Müller wants another rice pudding at three o’clock in the morning?

In fact, the midnight snack question has never come up. The players sleep at three o’clock in the morning. That’s good, because sleep is the most important regeneration. That is why there are certain foods that we provide to the players before and in the evening so that they can sleep well and sleep is positively influenced.

In concrete terms, it looks like this: while the national team is playing, do you swing the pan so that everything is ready in the team hotel after the game?

No, by playing two very late games in Qatar (the games against Spain and Costa Rica will not be kicked off until 10pm local time; i.e. editor) and we drive more than an hour back to the camp, the meal after the game has to take place in the stadium. So we set up a buffet for the players in the catacombs or in the cabin.

How does food delivery work logistically, does the DFB charter a plane full of food?

An extra flight for the vegetables makes no sense, the topic of sustainability is also very important to us. That’s already difficult in Qatar because everything has to be flown there or delivered by ship. Qatar produces little itself and is used to imports. So we don’t take anything with us. Even if it is sometimes just a matter of small things, importing something yourself to Qatar is very complicated. We have everything delivered regionally and via the hotel and then produce everything live on site.

Do the experiences from the 2018 World Cup in Russia help?

It’s much easier now than in Russia, because even then products from the EU were not allowed to be imported. That was logistically very difficult. We now get all the products that players are used to. We coordinated this months in advance and held talks with the team hotel. You can no longer react during the tournament.

How many tons of vegetables, pasta, or chicken breasts are you planning for the tournament?

We reckon on twelve kilos of uncut vegetables a day, so around 360 kilos for the entire tournament. When it comes to pasta, we are about eight to ten kilos a day. We are a group of 70 people in total and have two meals a day. Of course, people generally eat more on a match day than on a non-match day.

Serge Gnabry tries on Anton Schmaus.

(Foto: PhilippReinhard)

What is it like for the body and the food intake that the professionals travel from cold Germany to warm Qatar?

We try to give the players the best possible support during the transition from winter to summer, from cold to warm, including the time difference. It’s already a plank for the first few days, the body then has a lot to work with. We boost the immune system with stimulants such as ginger shots and advise drinking plenty of fluids.

Does Manuel Neuer have to eat something different as a goalkeeper than Serge Gnabry as an attacker?

They all get the same food, but of course everyone has an individual intake. The two eat a little differently, because of course Gnabry runs more than Neuer. But I don’t look at everyone’s plate, the boys do that in accordance with their diet and training plan.

David spoke to Anton Schmaus in need


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