Star chef Anton Schmaus from Regensburg has been the head chef of the German national team since 2017. This winter he accompanies the eleven to Qatar and feeds them during the soccer World Cup. The star spoke to him about what the athletes' diet looks like, what they like to eat and whether it's worth paying attention to your diet.
Mr. Schmaus, what will you cook when the national team wins the World Cup?
If we should win the World Cup, the food is more of a third or fourth priority. In the euphoria I could certainly serve anything.
Explain briefly, what does a head chef of the national team do?
I take care of breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner. And even if something else is desired in the evening to boost regeneration. I make sure that the nutritional basis fits.
What does that mean?
That the players individually receive the nutrients they need in the respective situation. Be it vegetable or animal proteins, carbohydrates, fiber or vitamins.
Do you also advise the players what to eat?
Absolutely, I am the point of contact for the players when it comes to nutrition and I am very happy to share my knowledge with them. So that they are well informed about what they can eat in order to perform optimally.
What does a meal plan look like in the life of a professional soccer player?
The breakfast is very broad: from acai bowl, overnight oats, egg dishes to Bircher muesli, smoothies and breakfast couscous. The offer is very rich. At lunchtime and in the evening there are mostly similar dishes: So a salad buffet, lots of soups, four main courses with fish, meat, but also pasta. Then lots of vegetables and carbohydrate side dishes, rice and potatoes in all forms. Plus a mini dessert and lots of fruit. In the afternoon there are dry cakes, energy balls, smoothie bowls, yoghurt and muesli bars. However, the composition also depends on how often and how intensively you train during the day.
That means more training, more carbohydrates?
Exactly, I then encourage the players to eat more carbohydrates once they have trained persistently.
Are gummy bears or beer allowed?
Beer makes no sense for the players if they have to train again the next day. They are in a high-performance phase during the tournament, and above all they have to pay attention to regeneration. Maybe they'll have a non-alcoholic beer after a game. Of course, some would also like to eat gummy bears or a piece of chocolate, but we simply don't offer that.
Do the footballers have special requests that you find special or strange?
In fact, the footballers are the most pleasant clientele I have. All wishes remain within limits, I can approve them all and don't have to veto them. Sometimes there are players who want to eat something specific before the game because that's what they always do at their clubs.
What for example?
This can be boiled buckwheat or rice milk with beetroot. It's totally individual. When players need it to perform at their best, we prepare it for them too.
Can footballers ask for food, like on a school trip?
Normally not. That wouldn't work at all, because I plan the meals well in advance. But: If we are together in a tournament for a long time, it is important to keep the spirits high. So we sometimes create a sense of home and implement Maultaschen, for example. Everyone likes to eat them.
Do players come up to you and ask for cooking tips?
Sometimes someone is interested in how I get the doneness of the meat. Sometimes people ask what is Jerusalem artichoke, why is it good for me?
There are more and more studies on vegan nutrition and sport. Recently also a pilot study by the company Oatly and SV Babelsberg. In it, seven soccer players followed a vegan diet for eight weeks. The athletic performance afterwards was just as good as that of the Omnivore colleagues. What do you think of eating a purely plant-based diet when you have to perform such a sport?
The pilot study affirms that it does not take meat consumption to achieve great athletic performance. But if the diet is to be purely plant-based, you have to deal with it extremely well. You have to know when to consume what. And you should supplement vitamin B12 and folic acid.
Are there vegetarians or vegans in the national team?
Some who are at least partially vegetarian or vegan. Overall, the players are increasingly concerned with nutrition and are already eating mostly plants. The consciousness is there.
Which dish do all players like?
The please what? Please tell us more about it.
The kebab pasta is very finely sliced lamb, seared with the classic kebab ingredients cucumber, tomato, cabbage, red onions, yoghurt sauce, hot. Everything tossed with whole wheat pasta. The players like to eat it, and I can guarantee the players' carbohydrate intake.
How important is nutrition for the sporting performance of the national team?
It is an extremely important building block. Nutrition contributes to regeneration, to reducing the susceptibility to injury. Eating right also improves your ability to concentrate. Everyone knows that: If you fill your stomach in the evening, you sleep less well and it is harder to get out of bed in the morning. What applies to us also applies to top-class sport. If you have to perform at the highest level every day, it is all the more important for you to eat well and in a targeted manner.
Let's talk about Qatar: there will be a strict set of rules for women journalists on how to report. Is there something like that for you too, dishes that you are not allowed to prepare?
So far I am not aware of anything of the sort. Possibly there is that with pork in mind. But that's not on my menu anyway.
They are responsible for the quality assurance of the food. How do you guarantee this in Qatar? Do you bring everything with you from Germany?
We don't take any groceries with us from Germany, but Qatar is a hub, since the country produces hardly anything itself, everything has to be imported - and we buy locally. Everything will be there so that the players can regenerate optimally.
The players switch from winter to summer, they have to deal with the time change. That puts a strain on the immune system. How do you help the national team to get the best out of this change?
We help players to support the immune system. With basics like the advice to disinfect your hands. But also with boosters for the immune system such as ginger and turmeric shots. Or a whole, hearty soup with ginger.
What excites you most about this very special job that you do there?
This position is an absolute privilege. The team is great and you experience things that you would never experience. I'm a football fan through and through, I'm really passionate about this task and also for this tournament.
You have been the head chef of the national team since 2017. What do you do better than your predecessor Holger Stromberg?
Nothing. (laughs) Holger Stromberg became world champion with the team in Brazil in 2014, so he did everything right. I have to achieve that first.
Last but not least: Does Thomas Müller have to do without his pretzels in Qatar?
In Qatar? Definitiv.