Journal of Serge Hutte, chef for the Team TotalEnergies cyclists: "We cooked meals with Breton produce "
For the second year running, Serge and two other Elior chefs, will be striving to optimize the performance of the team’s cyclists. He looks back on the first days of the race in Brittany.
What were the first few days of the race like?
Serge Hutte We actually started on Wednesday 23 June, three days before the beginning of the race on the 26th. These extra few days allowed us to prepare and in particular to buy fresh products for our menus and also enabled us to spend some valuable time with the staff and the cyclists before the start of the race. This year, the team includes three new cyclists who did not know us, so it was important to take the time to get to know them.
Since the beginning of the race, we have traveled across Brittany and adapted our cuisine to the region. Yann, one of the other two Elior chefs who cooks with me, is Breton. He was really thrilled when the race passed 10km from his hometown and this was reflected in the menu: Plougastel strawberries, sea bass, salted butter, buckwheat pancakes, etc. It was very important to prepare Breton menus with local produce that we bought along the way.
What impact does your cooking have on the cyclists’ performance?
SH We create recipes and a customized menu plan, so that the food can really help the cyclists perform at their very best. The Team’s nutritionist is a sports specialist and will be accompanying the French Olympic team to Tokyo this summer. For Team TotalEnergies, he worked upstream with Elior's nutritionist, Veronique, to provide a fragmented diet throughout the day: breakfast, snacks during the race, lunch on rest days, dinner, and a late-night snack.
We have gone further than last year in terms of personalizing the offer. For example, we have readjusted the weights to be even more adapted to the runners’ needs. Given that a professional runner expends up to 8,000 calories per day, compared with 2,500 on average for an ordinary individual, it is necessary to pay very close attention to these nutritional aspects. Another novelty is that we prepare all the snacks of the day ourselves: salty cake, sweet cake and rice cake.
Given that a professional runner expends up to 8,000 calories per day, compared with 2,500 on average for an ordinary individual, it is necessary to pay very close attention to these nutritional aspects.
Serge Hutte - Chef Elior
How do you forge this personalized relationship with the runners?
SH The race lasts 23 days. Because we are alone with the cyclists during meal times, these are privileged moments when we can interact with, and get to know them. We talk about everything except cycling. One of our favorite topics of conversation is food since we know this subject brings everyone together. This enables the cyclists to talk about other things and take a break. Two cyclists told me they felt like they were dining in a gastronomic restaurant every day. Indeed, while the diet is specific and the grammages imposed, we take great care in how we present our dishes.
These moments of exchange help us to get to know what the cyclists like. A Spanish cyclist discovered mustard thanks to us. Since then, I’ve introduced him to a local mustard in every region we pass through. In Brittany, I bought him a seaweed mustard; he just loved it! To celebrate Edvald Boasson-Hagen’s 200th stage, we put a candle on his dessert. These little gestures are greatly appreciated by the cyclists and accompany them throughout the race.