Outside the F1 cockpit: Romain Grosjean winds down from GP grind in kitchen

A native of France, wine became a key part of his cooking repertoire.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France smiles as he reads his phone in the paddock at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal on Friday, June 7, 2019. Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette

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While Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton would be at home on an episode of the 1990s TV show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous as he hops around the globe on his private jet between races, wears the latest fashions and attends posh parties with other celebrities, many Formula One drivers have more ordinary pastimes.

Several like wine and cooking, some enjoy other sports outside racing, while others would just like to watch someone else perform.

Then again, Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Räikkönen famously once mused that it would be silly to want to travel on free weekends when you spend much of your life on airplanes and in hotels.

He prefers to sit on the couch and relax, although the Finnish driver has been known to attend a party or two every now and then.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France smiles as he reads his phone in the paddock at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal on Friday, June 7, 2019. Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette

The Gazette spoke to Romain Grosjean about his interests away from the race track.

Sometimes hobbies run in the family, other times it’s something that comes completely out of left field. For the Haas F1 driver, developing a love of cooking was pure necessity.

Soon after he moved into an apartment for the first time, Grosjean found himself needing to a keep to diet to lose a bit of weight, which is something that taxed his limited cooking skills.

“After a week of green beans and plain chicken, I got bored so I decided to learn and discover more about cooking, and I got really into it,” Grosjean said.

“I did some courses but mainly I’ve been lucky to meet some chefs and I just went from there.”

A native of France, wine became a key part of his cooking repertoire. Sometimes he’ll create a meal with a specific bottle in mind, while at other times it’s all about the food and then finding the right wine to pair.

When push comes to shove, he prefers wines from the Burgundy region, which is convenient because it’s also an excellent accompaniment to one of the dishes he likes cooking most.

“Beef Wellington is always pretty satisfying because you’ve got no idea what the cooking is inside of the pastry, so when you cut it, it’s always a discovery and a good surprise,” he said.

One of the fringe benefits of Grosjean’s for the Haas outfit comes when he throws on an apron and gets busy in the kitchen when the F1 schedule allows.

“During the season, it’s harder because obviously we travel a lot and I don’t have as much time as I would like to cook, but I still try to do a fair bit,” Grosjean said.

“A couple of times during the season when we have a quiet weekend, I do a little bit of cooking for the team, which is always fun.”

Although he’s honed his skills over the years, it wasn’t always that way. For example, Grosjean’s first attempt at making crème brûlée didn’t come close to making the top step of the podium.

“I completely messed it up,” he said. “Actually, I waited two years before I cooked one again, but that time I did it well.”

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