Known to everyone as a role model in the tennis world (for his pristine reputation and etiquette), Roger Federer brings good memories to Hussain Shahzad, a Mumbai-based chef.
In a recent interview with Scroll, Shahzad revealed his experience of being the 20-time Grand Slam winner’s part-time personal chef. Back then, Roger Federer was in the USA for the Indian Wells Masters. Shahzad was working at the Eleven Madison Park restaurant in New York when a fellow chef, Daniel, gave him the opportunity to cook for “a friend” in California. Roger’s identity wasn’t revealed then.
Shahzad’s plans were to travel and gain some experience, so he readily took up this offer. Only when he found that the steady stream of emails included Mirka Federer’s (Roger’s wife) name in the tickets did he realize that he would be working with Roger himself!
“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. 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 for the first time,” he said.
“Amazing and humble”
The next thing he knew, he was on a flight to Indian Wells, soon to be the personal chef of Roger Federer himself. He only had good memories from the stint, adding that the entire entourage was humble and polite to him. Moreover, he was even offered a move to Switzerland – an offer he politely declined.
“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. “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 is set to make a comeback in 2021, after having skipped this year by electing to undergo surgery on his knee. His coach, Severin Luthin, slated his return at the Australian Open, next year.