Meet the USWNT chief in charge of feeding the World Cup champions in Mexico qualifying

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MONTERREY, Mexico — Burgers, pork chops, mac and cheese: it’s hard to choose a favorite dish. Not to mention the personalized vegan plates that turn heads at every meal.

Away from the pitch and pressures of qualifying for the World Cup and Olympics, food is the talk of the USA Women’s National Team at the CONCACAF W Championship. And Teren Green might be the most popular person of the team.

“He’s great, such a good chef,” said USA defender Sofia Huerta, delighted with everything from tacos to avocado toast. Huerta and her teammates have already qualified for the 2023 World Cup and will be looking to earn a spot at the 2024 Olympics on Monday.

Green – or “Chef T” as he is known to almost everyone – is the team’s personal chef brought to major tournaments, preparing every meal for players and staff. Three times a day – four on match days for late-night post-match meals – he oversees the refueling of the two-time defending World Cup champions.

Framed like that, it might seem like a stressful job, but what sets Green apart is his ability to whip up popular dishes while keeping mealtimes fun. Part of this process is allowing players to have a say in the menu. Each player has the opportunity to design the menu for a given day. The staff will post a poster with the player on it to celebrate their choices, none of which ever disappoint once prepared.

Emily Fox and Megan Rapinoe celebrated their birthdays at the start of the CONCACAF W Championship in Mexico. Fox opted for a local atmosphere: tacos and ceviche, then churros for dessert. Then came the birthday cake, complete with a singing crew, which the introverted Fox said Rapinoe enjoyed a bit more.

This collaborative effort between leader and team is a window into how Green works — and why he’s such an important member of the team. He takes with him the lessons he learned as a young chef at Sagamore, a luxury resort overlooking Lake George in upstate New York: his role isn’t just about food, but service. and an exceptional experience.

“I feel like meal times are a big part [of the environment]“, Green said from a chair in the private dining room that the team blocked off and personalized at the top of his hotel. “We have it three times a day and we want it to be the best three times a day. We want everyone to be happy, we want everyone to have what they want. We don’t want anyone to feel left out, so I’m constantly asking for requests. Tell me what you want. We will make it happen.”

Green, 33, is a self-taught chef who got his start at a small restaurant in Greater Detroit, moving from prep work and dishes to entrees. He left for the occasion at the Sagamore to hone his skills before returning home to Detroit to work atop the famous Renaissance Center overlooking the city.

Then he got his first chance in the sport through a connection, working with the NBA’s Detroit Pistons. Green started out as one of five chiefs, rubbing elbows with Stan Van Gundy, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson. After a few weeks, Green said, players requested it exclusively. Soon they started inviting her to their house to cook and hang out. Green’s popularity was as much about his hospitality as his food, he says now.

“Most of the time they didn’t really want to eat, they just wanted a friend,” Green said. “I was coming in to cook, I was cooking a meal, and then they were like, okay, let’s play [NBA]2K or let’s go to the cinema they had at home.”

Players of the United States Women’s National Team have also turned to “Chef T”. Green bonded with the team ahead of the 2019 World Cup and served as the leader for that entire tournament, which the United States won. He was back for the Tokyo Olympics last year and he rejoined the team again ahead of the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship Qualifying Tournament. His full-time gig is cooking for the Detroit Tigers of MLB when they play at home, and they work with him on the occasions when he leaves to join the American women.

Green is a tall person with a calm and humble demeanor. “It’s not really about me,” he said of his work. He fits right in with the team, playing a vital behind-the-scenes role, which is basically designed to help everyone do their job better.

“When you bring someone into a mix of delegations, it’s not just about your skills, it’s about the fit,” said United States Women’s National Team general manager Kate Markgraf. . “It fits perfectly. It’s an important element [of the team], but it is an added value. He’s someone that different people gravitate towards. And when you see his face, players all say ‘Chief T’ because he’s a non-threatening and supportive presence, which is what you need in this environment.”

A Chief is officially a professional support position that US Soccer provides at its own discretion. Markgraf said it should be an investment that all teams make.

Becca Roux, executive director of the USWNT Players Association agreed. “It’s fantastic that the USSF recently brought in a chef to most major US tournaments and qualifiers as it’s a health, safety and performance benefit,” she said. declared.

The staff of the United States Women’s National Team is important, so Green doesn’t work alone. He meets with team performance manager Ellie Maybury and team dietitian Lindsay Langford to work out guidelines on what the team should eat: more carbs before a game, the ability to having fun after a game.

Then, Green takes those guidelines and comes up with menu ideas, working with local chefs at the team’s hotel. He’ll make sure the hotel kitchen staff know the team’s nutritional guidelines and goals for a given meal, and then they’ll work together. Green typically can’t watch the first game of a tournament as he has to assimilate the local staff into post-game operations, but he can be found at the stadium, enjoying a game, such as when winning. Thursday’s 3-0 against Costa Rica. in the semi-finals of the tournament.

Green said he likes to rely on the local expertise of chefs and use local ingredients, all of which are selected for their quality. In Monterrey, that means using authentic Mexican sauces and “perfect” avocados. At the Olympics, it was everything from ramen to Wagyu beef and Miyazaki mangoes, an expensive and sweet version of the fruit.

“You have to have respect for the kitchen,” Green said of entering new environments. “I’m glad I know how to move around the kitchen properly and move around where I don’t offend anyone.”

Players notice the attention to detail. Green didn’t grow up with football. Her first game of women’s soccer came when she got her first shot with the team, during a training camp in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2019. Immediately, there was mutual respect.

“They’re great,” he said. “They’re not holding anything back. They’re hugely grateful, which is one of the reasons they’re my favorite team to work for.”

Following the conclusion of the CONCACAF W Championship, Green will return to his regular job for the Detroit Tigers. However, he already has his eyes set on the 2023 World Cup, wondering aloud what types of cuisine he needs to start experimenting with in Australia and New Zealand.

Scroll through Green’s Instagram page and among the mouth-watering photos of his dishes, you’ll find him holding the World Cup trophy on the pitch in Lyon after the USA win in 2019. Rapinoe paid tribute to him personally on the marches from New York City Hall during his speech after this victory.

It was there in France that this particular attention that Green gives to his craft became evident to the players. Among the team’s practicing vegans is Alex Morgan, who was on that team and is back with the team for the CONCACAF W Championship. Green said he feels for vegans because they can’t not always eat exactly what they want, so he puts the extra effort into their meals, serving them straight instead of from a buffet. Soon more players wanted to participate in this experience.

“When we went to France, there were maybe two vegans,” Green said. “In the end, there were about six of them. I build the plate especially for them and make it nice and stylish and deliver it to them. When the other players see this, they’re like, ‘Oh, I want one. meal brought to Me too.'”

Now new players notice it too. This training camp is Huerta’s first with ‘Chef T’, but she said the appreciation for his work is strong and the connection he makes with the players is immediate.

“The food here has been amazing, and obviously that’s very important for a professional athlete, the nutritional aspect,” she said. “He’s so good and he knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s just something that, when you don’t have him here, it’s something that you worry about or think about. Having him here, however, it’s taken care of.. You don’t have to worry about anything you put in your body. He’s so nice, he takes care of us. He’s so valuable and important to the team. “

Of course, there’s always room for cheat meals to keep things fun. After the team’s 1-0 win over Mexico on Monday, that meant filet mignon at 1 a.m. Sometimes that means ice cream. Even the boss is on board with a bit of fun.

“Macaroni and cheese post-game — and I don’t usually eat mac and cheese,” Markgraf says, “that’s the best thing I’ve ever had in my life.”

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