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Another international call up... off the pitch!

23 March 2017

Training ground Head Chef Jody Palmer has been called up to become Head Chef of the Wales football team!

Following the call up of our match day PA announcer Daren Bavister to the England set-up at Wembley, another member of the Royals staff has been asked to join a national team! We caught up with training ground Head Chef Jody Palmer to discuss his call up!

“It all started when Chris Gunter was away with the Welsh team,” said Palmer. “He texted me saying the team chef was leaving and would I be interested?” 

Wales then got in touch with both Jody and the club to see if he would be available for the upcoming Wales fixtures.

“I look after Chris (Gunter) at Reading and now also on International duty so I see him all the time – I’m pretty much Gunts’ personal chef now,” Jody joked.

“I’ve worked the last two games for Wales – I go down to the training facility in Cardiff stay down there for five or six days. It’s pretty full-on from six in the morning for breakfast through to lunch after training then afternoon snacks followed by dinner at 7pm!

“For the game against Ireland I’ll work three days in Cardiff and then head over to Dublin with them where I’ll do the food before the game. To be honest it’s a very similar set-up to what we have at Reading.”

After Chris Gunter had been singing his praises to his Welsh teammates, Jody was under pressure to deliver – Welsh manager Chris Coleman even said, “there’s a lot of pressure on you from what Gunts has been saying!”

“It’s amazing cooking for the team including Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and some of these players,” said Palmer. “I’d actually cooked for Bale before when I was at Spurs but never really had much to do with him back then because he wasn’t as famous as he is now. He’s so down to earth it’s unbelievable - they’ve all welcomed me with open arms!

“I’m an Arsenal fan so I go a bit girly when I see Aaron Ramsey – but that’s the only one, Gareth Bale and the rest of them don’t come close!

“When I bumped into Hal (Robson – Kanu) again he was surprised but glad to see me," he continued. "He hasn’t changed and has still got some unique dietary requirements!”

When questioned on some of the players' eating habits, Jody quickly highlighted Gareth Bale and his Beetroot smoothie. “When I first started Bale came up to me and asked for his smoothie, and even offered a signed shirt in exchange for it! The rest of the boys are pretty standard to be honest, just Bale and his Beetroot smoothie stand out!”

Turning the focus back to the Royals, Jody discussed some of the eating habits of the new players. “We’ve had Lewis Grabban join who has Halal food, the same as Al Habsi. Yakou Meite is also a bit of a character and changes his mind about what he does and doesn’t like every day! The gaffer as well, he’s always asking for cakes and desserts, in fact the other day he wanted some scones - we made a proper tea at the Ritz for all the coaching staff!”

The fantastic team spirit has been a talking point with fans and media alike, and as Head Chef at the Training Ground Jody has a great insight to the players on their down-time. “After a defeat it’s real doom and gloom, the boys are exhausted after putting everything into it on the pitch. Mentally it’s draining and we can see that. But equally we can see when they’re up after a win and this season has seen plenty of them!

"It’s totally different to last year, because after games they’re coming in and talking to each other, learning from each other - they just enjoy being together. It’s a totally different team spirit, they all gel and they’re working for each other. It’s a million miles away from last season so credit to everyone who’s put that team together.”

Everyone at Reading FC would like to congratulate Jody on his international call-up and look forward to seeing him and Chris back at Hogwood ahead of a big game with Leeds!

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