With less than 10 days remaining until the World Cup, Japan’s football squad, also known as ‘Samurai Blue‘, are leaving nothing to chance in preparing for their campaign to do well in the prestigious tournament. That includes the food the athletes will eat while away in Brazil for the whole competition.
Joining the trip is the squad’s favorite chef, Yoshiteru Nishi, who has been with the national team since 2004. The Fukushima native would mark this year’s World Cup as his third time to prepare meals for the team, since his first in Germany in 2006. Before becoming the national squad’s chef, Nishi was the master chef of the J-Village national soccer training facility in Fukushima. He briefly moved to Tokyo after the double disasters in March 2011, while his parents remain in Fukushima, living in temporary housing, waiting for the day the government will advise them that they can safely return home. Nishi returned to Fukushima to help out with disaster recovery efforts and cooked meals at the J-Village, which became a hub for relief operations. He said that he “wanted to contribute to the recovery effort by preparing tasty meals for the workers.”
This year, Nishi will be preparing tasty meals to a different kind of workers, the squad working to catch their country’s first ever World Cup trophy. Nishi is in charge of preparing the athlete’s food in buffet style, which consists of viands rich in iron. Iron is an important nutrient for the players, which is easily lost as they sweat out during the 90 minute matches. Among the items listed on his menu are noodles, pasta, steamed rice, kimchi, vegetables, fish, meat, “natto” fermented soybeans, and fruits. He plans to prepare meals that are similar to the ones the players eat at home so they won’t have to adjust much. On the other hand, Nishi wants to serve meals that are unique. With a variety of 90 dishes planned, he admits that he hopes serving food that is hard to come by in Brazil will surprise the team. He hopes that by preparing good meals for the players, those still languishing in Fukushima will be encouraged. “I want to invigorate them by helping the national team leave behind good results in the World Cup in Brazil,” said the chef.
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