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Roger Federer and his team spoke to us like equals: Mumbaikar who worked as the Swiss' personal chef

Roger Federer
Roger Federer
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Modified 16 Oct 2020, 00:25 IST
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20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is a role model for an entire generation of tennis fans. But Federer's reach extends even beyond the sporting world, and people from all walks of life are in awe of his staggering achievements.

Hussain Shahzad, a Mumbai-based chef, recently shared details of his rendezvous with Roger Federer in an interview with Scroll. The former World No. 1 was in California for a match and Shahzad at the same time was working as a chef at the Eleven Madison Park restaurant in New York.

That was where he got the rare opportunity to cook for Federer.

The Indian culinary artist recounted how one of the chefs named Daniel offered him a chance to work while traveling. Daniel mentioned that the work was for a 'friend' in California, not revealing Roger Federer's identity.

It was only after Shahzad read Mirka Federer's name in the emails that he realized he would soon be cooking for one of the greatest sportsmen of all time.

"They were amazing and humble" - Hussain Shahzad on Roger Federer's entourage

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

When asked to share his experience working as a personal chef to Roger Federer, Hussain Shahzad recalled:

"I was ready to put in my papers when Chef Daniel asked me my plans. I told him I wanted to travel and gain some perspective. He asked, 'What if you got paid to travel?' I said, 'Sure, I could do with the dollars.' So he told me to go work with his friend in California."
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"He didn't tell me who it was, just that he was doing the ATP World Tour. It was only when emails went back and forth and tickets came in that I saw the name Mirka Federer [Roger Federer's wife] for the first time," he added.

At first, Shahzad couldn't believe that he would be working for Roger Federer. But it was a legitimate opportunity, and he soon boarded a flight to Indian Wells - where the Swiss legend was competing at the Indian Wells Masters.

After the tournament ended, Roger Federer asked Shahzad if he would consider moving to Switzerland. However, the Mumbai-based culinarian declined the offer.

"He had an entourage of 24 people. There were two personal chefs – Daniel and me. At the end of it, he asked me if I wanted to move to Switzerland, but I realized personal cheffing was not for me," Shahzad said.
The Match in Africa: Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal
The Match in Africa: Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal

But the Mumbai chef did enjoy the few days he spent cooking for the 5-time US Open champion.

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"It was fun while it lasted – I had never met such high-profile people, and they were amazing and humble. They respected you, your work, and they spoke to you like equals," Hussain Shahzad concluded. 

Roger Federer has been away from the court for months now. His coach Severin Luthi recently revealed that Federer would likely return at the Australian Open next year.

Published 15 Oct 2020, 22:45 IST
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