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24.07.2009 11:17

The captain of the kitchen

Marc Guillén (enviat especial)

Chef Leonardo Ortega has travelled to England with the FC Barcelona squad to ensure that the players' diets remain exactly the same. "They should not notice the difference between what they eat here and what they eat in Camp Nou," he said.

The culinary wizard is in charge of all meals during the trip and also produces the post-match meals for the Blaugrana after home games. He will also travel to the United States. "I come along because sometimes the doctors because the doctors want meals that in Catalunya are normal, but abroad they change them and they are different," Ortega continued.

Importance of diet

2009-07-23_COCINERO_04.jpgDoctor Ricard Pruna also spoke about the presence of the chef: "Since last season we place a great deal of importance on diet," he told www.fcbarceona.cat. "The players stay and have lunch in the sports complex and dine after games, and we think that food is a vital part of the recuperation and recovery of the players to prevent fatigue."

Back at home everything is fine, but when the team travelled Pruna was not 100 per cent content. "What we realised was that all the gains that the players made after home matches was something we needed on away games and, above all, in pre-season, because that is the time when the players are preparing themselves."

Local chefs

2009-07-23_COCINERO_01.jpgOrtega does not take over from the host chefs, but shows the locals how the squad need things to be done. "Taking the guidelines from the medical team, I control the amounts and the quality of the food," he stated. "I have to show what size portions and what quantity is required of each dish for things like meat and fish. But all the cooks of the hotel do the cooking under my guidance. I create sample dishes so they can see exactly what is required. I am here for breakfasts, lunches, afternoon snacks and suppers."

During the season

2009-07-23_COCINERO_09.jpgDoctor Pruna has been impressed with Ortega's work and is hopeful that the chef can continue to work in the same way when the season starts. "If it goes well, we would like for this to be continued when the league starts because eating after games is very important with a view to recovering well and not waiting until the following day.

"As doctors we try to ensure that players have a stable composition of all food types and we give great importance to things like fish, because that is vital. There is permanent contact between the chef and the doctors to ensure that what we want is cooked."
The captain of the kitchen
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Doctor Ricard Pruna admits that everyone has different tastes and those have to be catered for. "At times we found ourselves in hotels and they did not have things on the menu that we wanted and other things that were cooked differently," he explained. "We also personalise the menu for each player. For example, any muslim players will not eat meat but will eat fish and we have to select the fish." With a chef along with the squad, that will no longer be a problem.

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