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Former Judo world champ Nicola Fairbrother shines in the kitchen

5 Oct 2019 17:00    David Finch /
Fairbrother Montage

British top judoka Nicola Fairbrother who won Olympic silver at the 1992 Barcelona Games is embarking on a challenge to complete a 100-day Chef Stage in different Michelin Starred restaurants in Spain. The 1993 World Champion is working in a highly pressurised environment like a professional kitchen is not everyone’s idea of fun, but Fairbrother says she enjoys the challenge and the adrenaline.

“There are many parallels between sports life and chef life,” says the 1992 Barcelona Olympic silver medallist. “I’ve been searching for some years to find something to replace the buzz of being an Olympic judo athlete. Who would have thought that I would find it by working in a kitchen?”

“It’s hard to get used to every-day life after you retire from being a top sports-woman. You miss the tension of the arena, the daily drive, and motivation, the buzz when you win, the frustration when you lose.”

 “Well, it turns out that adrenaline tastes and feels the same. No matter if you are plating up for service, delivering a soufflé to order, or preparing for an Olympic final, the adrenaline rushing through your veins feels very much the same.”

The judo world champion, now 49 years old, recently qualified as a professional chef at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London.

Fairbrother has already worked with an impressive array of Michelin star chefs in restaurants in Spain: Andoni Aduriz (Mugaritz), Maria Jose San Roman (El Monastrell), Susi Diaz (La Finca), Aixpea Oihadener (Xarma) and with Mas-terchef celebrity, Scott Davies at the Three Chimneys in Scotland.

“Every kitchen and every head chef is different, and I am learning something new from everywhere I go. Sometimes it can be slow. You can be stood peel-ing almonds for an hour. Other times you are learning to work with liquid nitrogen or learning how to open a sea urchin.”

Triple European Champion Fairbrother continues after this restaurant: “The plan is to continue to stage at various restaurants in Spain, and then to travel to other countries and cities. London is definitely on the bucket list, and I’d love to stage at Clare Smyth’s Core.”

Read Nicola’s blogs here

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