Gloucester's Peter Richards and James Simpson-Daniel took time out this week from preparations for this weekend's Churchill Cup final with some hours in the kitchen.
The Churchill Cup hasn't all been about training and playing for some of the England squad on tour in Canada. A special lesson in the kitchen from the team hotel chef on how to cook healthy everyday meals, has proven so popular this week that another serving is planned to educate player palates on Friday.
Darren Drew, who has been chef of the Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel for 27 years, gave the likes of James Simpson-Daniel, Mathew Tait and Pete Richards some tasty tips on how to make curries, salad dressings, fish dishes and even the humble omelette.
It was the brainchild of the England nutritionist, Dr Adam Carey, who is on the tour to supervise the squad's daily diets. Nineteen year old Newcastle Falcons back, Mathew Tait, felt it was a useful change away from training for sunday's final of the Churchill Cup against Argentina.
"It was really good and a bit different away from the rugby. Adam is going to write the recipes down for us but I can remember most of it. A lot of the things were easy to carry out. I think I'm quite good at cooking back home but my housemate begs to differ. I do a good fish stew but that's about it, so this will be really helpful."
A lot of the players such as George Chuter, Phil Dowson and Andy Higgins are already interested in cooking, so they jumped at the chance of getting a hands-on session with Carey and the chef. Once they had cooked the meals under supervision, there was the added bonus of being allowed to eat their final efforts. Falcons number eight Phil Dowson plans to use his newly found knowledge to impress clubmate Dave Walder, whom he shares a house with.
"I like cooking but I don't get a chance to do very much because I live with (Newcastle Falcons fly half) Dave Walder and he likes to take the reigns in the kitchen so I think I need to learn a bit more. We did salad dressings with various vinegars and herbs, chicken teriaki from scratch and a green Thai curry which was very nice. It was a really good idea on the morning of a day off training."
Later this year, Carey plans to take some of the England squad into other top kitchens back home, to help them further develop their knowledge of food preparation in all its guises.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).