The first ten years of your life. We remember snippets, moments that changed our life and shaped what we become. A decade of development, learning and rarely having a care in the world.
Manchester United fan Jonny Marsh loved football, his bedroom decorated by the club wallpaper. The lifelong fan would receive the home kit for his birthday with the away kit for Christmas. But another passion began sometime before his adoration for the Red Devils.
At just 18 months old his mother would occupy his time with something that would quickly escalate into a passion and then career. Football, however, would never leave, with the 27-year-old now a private chef to some of the biggest names in the Premier League.
“We used to bake,” recalled the culinarian known as ‘The Football Feeder’.
“If you met my Mum she would tell you this story where she said that I was a bit of a nuisance, so she used to tie me to a chair with an apron and make me mix cakes when I was 18 months old just to keep me still and that’s how it probably started.”
What started was his love of food. One that would lead him to making his own cakes at six and seven years old before leaping into cooking curries at home after school a few years later.
At 14 he was working at Raymond Blanc’s Le Petit Blanc in Manchester. From there he was approached with an apprenticeship and the opportunity of a lifetime by the renowned French chef to work at the two Michelin star rated Le Manoir.
Things were moving at a rapid pace much like a Ryan Giggs dribble back in the day. The apprenticeship came and went, his time served, his skills sharpened and his craft taking him on to cook for billionaires on yachts! Then came a call from a Manchester football club, but the ones in light blue.
Marsh now prepares personalised meals for many of the top Premier League footballers, which started with the all-stars at Manchester City.
“I did a little bit of cooking for the Man City chairman on matchdays and then City rang me to do Kevin De Bruyne’s Christmas one or two years ago. That’s gone fast! And from then on it snowballed from there.
"From the work that I did with Kevin, City rang me and said we’ve got other players at the club that we’d like you to work with and that’s how it all started really and that’s how it all snowballed,” he said.
De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Kyle Walker as well as Jordan Pickford, John Terry, Troy Deeney and Luke Shaw are just some of the names that he has prepped meals for as the footballers/athletes fuel up on the ingredients that keep them fit, healthy and eating the right way in the modern game.
Life as a private chef means excessive hours on certain days with little time to take in a game at Old Trafford. Meal preparation days are on a Monday starting at 1.30-2am. Midweek becomes easier, more time for artistic flair, but when it comes to downtime it’s all about kicking back with his girlfriend and friends.
“I can go and play golf, go to the cinema or go for something to eat. There are the odd times when you can switch off but at the minute, with the momentum, I want to keep building, want to keep moving. I think I’d regret trying to take too much time off, in 2-3 years’ time thinking ‘Well, I should’ve been a bit more driven. At the moment I’m not trying to switch off but if I need time off then yes I’ll take it.”
Our interview came the day after Manchester United were thumped 3-0 at home to Tottenham. A night that promised so much early on but soon turned into a devastating loss after being pounded by the Londoner’s attacking prowess. Changed days from the heady ones led by Sir Alex and co.
“I just don’t like watching United at the minute,” Marsh admitted.
“I’m a United fan but the way they play is just boring. First-half yesterday, I’ve not seen them play like that for three years. They were phenomenal first half. And I thought ‘Ooh, hello, blast from the past’. After that, it was just like watching typical [Jose] Mourinho again. It’s just a bit negative and boring. I’d like someone a bit more ‘Let’s have a go’.”
United have bounced back since with a stroll at Burnley, leaving with three points, a clean sheet and a brace for Romelu Lukaku.
Jose Mourinho’s future at Old Trafford, despite signing a new contract in January until 2020, remains under scrutiny. Marsh isn’t alone in voicing his negativity about the Portuguese’s style of play and although he believes he was the right man to replace Louis Van Gaal in 2016, he doesn’t believe the 55-year-old is the one to lead them forward now.
“I think he settled a ship from under Van Gaal and he pushed us forward but at the minute I don’t think he’s the guy to take United further.
“I would like [Mauricio] Pochettino. I think he deserves a big chance at a big club. He’s proven in the Premier League. The guy turned down Real Madrid, so he’s obviously well thought of within the game. I think Pochettino would be a great choice. Depending what United think they might think we need someone more proven… they may go for [Zinedine] Zidane. He’s managed at a big club, a proven track record so you never know. Two years ago, I thought Mourinho was the man. I don’t think he’s the man now.”
Marsh, though, like United’s city rivals continues to go from strength to strength. A private chef who has an end goal of becoming one of the biggest names in the food world.
“In terms of this company I want to keep growing, keep trying to impress, keep trying to help people and you never know where it could end up.”