The Sydney Morning Herald this week published an excellent behind-the-scenes piece that highlights Delaware North’s effort to feed players at the Australian Open. A condensed version of the story can be found below (click here for the full piece).
Asif Mamun is the man responsible for this massive operation. Before the world’s best tennis players go into battle, the cheerful Bangladeshi-born executive chef at Melbourne & Olympic Parks must make sure all their needs are met. And there are many needs.
What they eat, how much they eat, what time of day they eat it. Mamun must manage it all during the two-week tournament, in addition to feeding 650,000 other people and directing 300 staff.
Mamun has the unenviable task of catering for Australian Open staff, spectators, coaches, ball kids, media and the tennis players themselves, a group of people he says are incredibly diverse.
Catering for what Mamun calls “the top 10” — think Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, the Williams sisters — is a big job. So big, the 38-year-old has assigned two specially-trained chefs to take care of their diets.
“Obviously there is a group of people who look after the players, their entourage, their managers. Pretty much all the top 10, I get the heads up on special diets, what time they want to eat, special food like after the match, before the match.”
Rookies looking for arms like Nadal or powerhouse strength like Federer might Google their diets, but it turns out the top 10 have incredibly varied needs.
“When I’m planning the menu, my main focus is who I’m writing the menu for,” Mamun said. “I try to maximise what ticks the boxes: the gluten-free, the vegan, the carbs.”
The chef’s time is precious and he must be off. He bids us farewell and walks out of the cafeteria, smiling and surrounded by tennis superstars devouring his fare.