Kira Meenke has clients in both the Bundesliga and the Premier League. In her job as a private chef for big stars, she gets close to the footballers and their families. Several times, when players have changed clubs, she has joined the load. This has meant that she now has a place of residence in Portugal, but spends half the month in England, where she cooks for a Nottingham Forest profile.
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The sudden changes in the customers’ club situation are a moment of stress for the young chef.
– My biggest challenge is that the world of football is unpredictable and that plans are often made only four or five months in advance. It is challenging in many ways. Firstly, my workplace can only be planned for a short period and customers can suddenly leave a club in a hurry during a transfer window, Meenke tells Nettavisen.
She says that the most difficult thing is letting go of the ties she has with the players and their families.
– The farewells are the worst. Some customers become good friends and I get good chemistry with you and your wives and children. Even if some customers take me to their next club, it means that I often have to leave my friends too, she continues.
Meenke was an athlete herself and played handball at age-specific national team level when she was younger. Through the sport, she learned a lot about exercise and nutrition, which she later wanted to work on full-time.
– Working with footballers started through a coach I knew well. After that it was just word of mouth. Football is a small world and everyone knows everyone, you meet a lot of people. I have been recommended to new customers and I have received offers from players who have tasted my food at teammates’, for example.
Among Meenke’s clients are Odysseas Vlachodimos and Jeremiah St. Juste, who play for Forest and Sporting Lisboa respectively. The former is the reason why she spends a lot of time in England, as the goalkeeper wanted to keep her also after the transfer from Benfica.
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Collected for various reasons
Meenke says that several players have the opportunity to eat almost all meals at the training facility, but that some want to spend more time at home. This is often where the private chef comes in.
– Eating out in restaurants is often not the best nutritionally, so they hire me so they can follow a diet plan, while also spending more time with their family. Others do not have the opportunity to eat at the training facility, so they have to fix food themselves. Some also use me a little to change the routine in their daily life. They are often my “dinner customers”.
The 29-year-old says that the days are very varied and that she alternates between cooking in advance and preparing various meals for the athletes to eat. It can often be midnight before she gets to go home in the evening.
Meenke started his career as a private chef in Portugal, with footballers in Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. Subsequently, she has worked in several countries and also got to travel on several trips with the athletes.
– In 2022, I had the opportunity to work with families and employees during the WC in Qatar. It was a fun experience, because I got to see some matches as well.