'Feeding England'

West Ham United head chef Tim De'Ath is the star of a new film currently showing on the Football Association website.

The three-minute movie, entitled 'Feeding England', shows De'Ath at work in the kitchen at the five-star Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus near Rustenburg in South Africa.

Fittingly, De'Ath worked in the entertainment industry before joining West Ham, catering on the sets of major Hollywood movies for stars such as Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo Di Caprio.

The Hammers chef, who is on secondment with the national team for the duration of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, is being kept busy by the 23 players and dozens of backroom staff he has to keep fed every day.


"We're catering for around about 71 people a day here at the base camp. That's every day - breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, evening meal and a late snack as well.

"Later on, two days before the game starts, wherever it's going to be, I'll travel ahead of the team to set up the next hotel. So when we go to Cape Town, I'll go two days before and set up the hotel there, which I've already been to previously.

To help him to produce the range of nutritional meals needed to keep Team England in prime condition, De'Ath is working alongside old friend and colleague Lee Maycock, who he has known for 20 years, and a group of local South African chefs.

"We've got up to 18 chefs in the kitchen and, at any one time, there will be either seven or eight chefs in there helping us.

"It's always quite difficult on the first day to get everybody working to a system, but once you've got the system working, it's quite easy."

While De'Ath has a level of autonomy over the dishes he can produce, everything has to be given the green light by manager Fabio Capello, team doctor Dr Ian Beasley and head of physiotherapy Gary Lewin.

"Lunchtime would be more carbs with white meats. The afternoon one is all proteins so there are no calories to burn off. The evening one will be more to do with red meats, so when their bodies are resting, the red meat can digest.

"It's a healthy, balanced diet mixing carbs, proteins and vitamins.

"With the afternoon snack, we've tried to make it a bit quirky, so we're doing a low-fat hot chocolate, little protein cakes and sushi, which always goes down well. It's just pure protein basically.

"The nutritionist will sit down with Fabio after I've worked out the menu and go through and say what he wants."

De'Ath revealed that mealtimes have been earmarked as an important time for team-bonding - something manager Capello sees as vital at a major tournament being played 5,000 miles from home.

"We've made it compulsory as well. They all have to come down for every break. It gets them out of their rooms, gets them talking and gets more of a team atmosphere going as well."

While the eleven players who take to the pitch are unquestionably the men who will take the glory should England triumph in Johannesburg on 11 July, De'Ath knows he has a big part to play in their chances of success.

"There aren't really any fussy eaters in the team. Because it's a balanced diet, there is such a variety of foods to choose from that they have got ample choices

"They've all got big eaters because they're like racehorses. They've got to be fed the right food and if they're not fed the right food then they're not going to perform - that's the way I look at it."