David Goffin faces Frances Tiafoe on Sunday at Wimbledon, where the former World No. 7 is bidding to reach the last 16 for the fourth time at the grass-court Grand Slam.
Possessing an all-around game on the court, the Belgian also likes to branch out when it comes to food. As long as it isn’t oysters, Goffin will eat it, and the 31-year-old isn’t shy to put his own cooking skills to the test either.
In this edition of Food Court, Goffin reveals to ATPTour.com how he fared on a celebrity cooking show for French TV, why his eating habits change during Grand Slam weeks and the reason he can’t eat cereal bars during matches.
Let’s say you have to cook tonight for friends or family. What would you cook?
I don’t know if I have time or not, but if it is an emergency and it is almost summer, I would go for a barbeque. Nice meat on a barbecue. It is very easy. Otherwise I would go for pasta, a good carbonara. That is something I can do. I am not a huge chef, but I have some good skills in the kitchen.
We know that is true, because you appeared on the French cooking show All in cuisne in 2020 with chef Cyril Lignac. How was that experience?
It was during the [COVID-19 lockdown], and they asked me if I was ready to make a TV show with video cameras on a call at home. I was like, ‘Why not? I have nothing to do.’ So I went to the supermarket and I had everything at home. It was not easy, because I had 45 minutes to make main dishes and a dessert, so it was not easy.
It was very quick, I had to follow the chef. My kitchen was a disaster, completely in a month after 45 minutes, but at the end I managed to make two OK dishes. It was a salad with cheese croquets and a carpaccio, with white chocolate mousse as a dessert.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
French fries, because in Belgium we have the best ones. You go into a friterie, it’s called, and you buy some French fries. They are really good in Belgium. Otherwise, waffles. They are so good.
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Do you eat something specific the night before a match, or does it not matter so much?
No, I’m not really superstitious. I just go to restaurants that I like. I don’t take any risks the day before. I want to have a good meal and go to sleep feeling great. So I just go to a place that I like and eat the food that I like. Some pasta, rice, chicken, or Asian food is good before a match.
On the day of a match, do you have to eat a certain amount of time beforehand? Do you have a routine?
It depends on whether it is a Grand Slam or not. During a Grand Slam I try to eat a lot, three hours before [the match]. Rice and chicken is the safest meal that I know before a match.
During a match, has your snack routine changed? Some guys eat gels now, when they used to bananas, for example.
For me it is tough to eat. I don’t like to eat cereal bars because when I play a point, I still have a piece of it in my teeth, and I hate still eating during the point! So, for me it is gels, and it is easy to eat bananas, so that is pretty much what I eat. Even if I have to eat something during a match, when it is a long one, I don’t really eat. Gels are way easier for me.
How different is your diet in a tournament week compared to a training week?
I go more for meat when I am not playing in a tournament, because I prefer not to eat meat every day. I prefer to eat meat when I am not in a tournament because it is OK for the body, proteins and everything, so it is better when not in a tournament. I go for big meat [meal outside of tournament weeks] just to recharge and I like it. Otherwise, I don’t really eat a lot of meat during tournaments.
Is there a go-to restaurant that has one meal that is your favorite thing out there?
I don’t know. I have a lot of [favourite] restaurants. If I had to choose, I would go for an Asian restaurant, and I always start with sushi. It’s always a good start. My favorite would be black cod, the Nobu one.
Is there anything you do eat that might surprise people?
I love to eat some good food. I eat everything, every kind of food. I like to eat spicy sometimes. I don’t know if that is a surprise or not, but I am OK when it is really spicy. Otherwise, I eat all food, spicy or not.
Is there anything you just won’t eat?
The only thing I don’t eat is oysters. I like seafood, but only oysters I don’t really like.
What is the best meal from Belgium that you would recommend?
French fries and big meatballs—we call them. Mussels too, but they are more at the coast.