One of the most important aspects of professional sport is nutrition, and the man in charge of that at Bath Rugby is Michael Bache.
The chef has worked at the Club for seven-and-a-half years having made his way up from Sous Chef to Head Chef to his current title Executive Chef.
He oversees all catering operations at both Farleigh House and the Rec, from elite sports nutrition to fine dining banquets, and he told Bath Life that the variety of the role is what enticed him to take up the job in the first place.
“It’s a well-known fact that the hours you have to work as a chef can be brutal,” Bache began.
“I applied for the role with Bath Rugby because I knew there was a gap in my industry for combining fine dining cuisine with elite sports nutrition and that excited me.
“Some of the oldest memories I have involve rugby. It’s a true love of mine, my dad also played amateur rugby for a club in Brentwood for 34 years and so the sport really is in my veins.”
Each week during the rugby season can change drastically for a player, which alters the menus that Bache creates. With players eating between 3500-7000 calories a day, the chef admits that it can be challenge at times to fit that into just three meals.
As he explains: “They vary dramatically depending on what the food needs to fuel - training, recovery, injuries, matchdays and days off all require very different meal plans.
“I work with our nutritionist Guy Lewis, and between us we create our menus.
“The seasons impact what we serve the players. We also source as much as we can locally. We are so lucky to be based in the South West where exceptional ingredients are in abundance.
“My main rule is the quality of ingredients. For me every single ingredient has a job to do. If it has no purpose on the plate then it won’t go on it!
“Breakfast, for an intense day will be a high-calorie porridge with a high-protein Full-English. They’ll also have shakes and smoothies on top of that. They tend to eat a high-protein Full-English breakfast every day.
“Lunch is mainly meat, something like a 10oz steak, roast sweet potato, seasonal vegetables - locally grown of course.”
Some of the Bath Rugby players also share a strong passion for food, and spending time with them daily also gives Bache enjoyment in his role.
“There are some players that really are really into their food,” he admits.
“Max Lahiff and Sam Underhill are both into the detail and have a genuine love of creating in the kitchen.
“I also give cooking lessons to the guys in the academy and cooking tips to all the first team.
“The banter here as you can imagine is non-stop, it’s not just contained to the changing rooms. It’s great fun!”
Bache is now really looking forward to the future. He has been heavily involved in developing the catering facilities at the Rec and couldn’t hide his excitement at the opportunities that could provide him and his team.
“The future, the opportunity the new stadium creates, the Club’s ambition and knowing I have the Club’s full support to lead the charge on performance catering really fills me with excitement going forward.”