Cooking up a storm

West Ham United's young professionals are receiving cooking lessons to ensure they eat healthy meals when they are not in and around the club.

Players are provided with meals when training, preparing for matches or living at the club's Academy House, but it is imperative that they also stick to a nutritional diet when not at work.

With that in mind, Academy nutritionalist Chris Curtis and chef Adam Viggars have arranged special early-morning classes during which players are taught how to cook healthy breakfasts, lunches and evening meals.

Earlier this week first-year professionals Pelly Ruddock and Dominic Vose and second-year scholar Leo Chambers joined Viggars in the kitchen at Chadwell Heath, where they learned how to make poached eggs, omelettes and smoothie drinks.

"Basically we are trying to improve their life skills off the field as what they eat is as important as what they do on the pitch," said Curtis. "We are giving them lessons in how to prepare basic healthy meals for themselves so they eat as nutritional a diet as possible throughout the week.

"Some of the lads have already asked us for some recipes so they can cook basic dishes like pasta at home, so they are definitely taking it on board really well. It is important that they get into good eating habits at a young age because they are working in an environment where they need to be at a peak level of performance all the time.

"If they learn these skills now then they will be able to develop them throughout their careers."

Leo Chambers

Leo Chambers caused havoc as he flipped his omelette

Chef Viggars, who cooks for the first-team squad on a daily basis, said the players had enjoyed their time in the kitchen, despite the sessions being scheduled for 8am before training!

"I like teaching the young lads to cook because it gives them an insight into what we do every day," he confirmed. "The first session saw the lads learn how to cook lunch and this week we have done breakfasts. It is good for them to see what goes into the dishes that we prepare for them and I'm sure a few of them will go home now and get out their saucepans and have a go themselves."

Chambers, who was delighted with his efforts at making a ham and vegetable omelette, said he and his fellow team-mates thoroughly enjoyed swapping their football kits for aprons to take part in the sessions.

"We don't have to cook too much for ourselves usually as a lot of us live in the Academy House, where our meals are prepared for us, so I have enjoyed the sessions and learning new skills," said the England Under-18 defender.

"It is important that we learn how to cook for ourselves because we'll be living on our own soon. Healthy foods are very important for us and they don't have to be bland and tasteless like some people might think.

"I was quite pleased with my omelette but, saying that, nobody else wanted to taste it!"

Academy membership