BLOOD SWEAT & EARS
David Flatman is a self-confessed man’s man with a hint of lavender.
Having represented Saracens, Bath and England over the course
of a 14-year career, he retired from rugby union in 2012 due to a
recurring hand injury. But the rugby field’s loss is the kitchen’s
gain, as David soon discovered a passion for cooking.
What drew you to Sub-Zero & Wolf? It was complete serendipity. Google maps took me to the wrong place, and I found myself strolling between street-side espresso bars in Knighstbridge. I didn’t know much about cookers at the time, but I saw this one incredible cooker in the window of a shop on Brompton Road. I looked up, and the shop was Sub-Zero & Wolf. I went in, and after a few minutes of twiddling knobs and tapping different surfaces as if I knew what I was doing, a lovely chap came over and offered me a coffee. In under an hour, I’d seen the light, and my kitchen life would never be the same again. That chap and I became the self-professed ‘Hinge Brothers,’ but that’s another story…
“I have a Wolf outdoor grill,
and that thing is the Rolls
Royce of barbecues!”
— DAVID FLATMAN
The Hinge Brothers? We’ve got time…
Well I have this theory about hinges – as
in, you know, the things that allow a door
to swing open and shut. Hinges can be the
most basic, bare minimum, uninspiring
of objects, but they can also be beautiful,
unnecessarily wonderful examples of
over-engineering, which is a concept
I rather admire. Over-engineering,
or making something better than it
reasonably needs to be in order to sell, is an
unwise move if you’re going by the strict
ideals of profit and loss. But this is the
very reason I like it. It fights against the
widely accepted trend for obsolescence by
design. ‘Buy me,’ it says, ‘and you’ll never
need to replace me.’ So anyway, when
I first set foot in Sub-Zero & Wolf, that
chap swung open a professional grade freezer door, revealing some of the most
beautiful hinges I’ve ever seen. He knew,
and he knew that I knew. We exchanged a
look, and that was all it took. We were the
So beautiful hinges started your passion for cooking? In a way, yes. But the real turning point was when our old range cooker died at 1pm on Christmas Day a few years back. But what seemed like an absolute nightmare at the time turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The Wolf BBQ came into its own, Christmas was saved and I had a newfound love for cooking, and barbecuing in particular.
What kit have you got in your kitchen at the moment? I have a big Wolf range cooker with a pro-extraction hood. I love how cool it looks and simply how much food I can cook at once. I also have a Wolf outdoor grill, and that thing is the Rolls Royce of barbecues!
Is there a chef that you find particularly
inspiring? Marcus Bawdon, the barbecue
genius from Devon, never fails to impress
me. What he can do with a bit of grub and a
handful of charcoal is quite inspirational.
Going back to your playing days, did you have a typical pre-game meal? Nutrition is a critical part of rugby; you need to make sure you’ve consumed enough calories to carry you through the game. I’d usually eat a big piece of steak, lots of vegetables and maybe a coffee or two – as much energy as I could cram into myself basically!
Is there a memory from your career that always stands out? Getting my first England cap at 20 years old was really special, but the game that always sticks in the memory is England vs Argentina back in 2002. They were in incredible form in the lead up to the game, and we had rested some big names, so definitely weren’t at full strength. But we ended up winning 26 – 18, and I remember sharing a post-game hug with Keith Roach, Phil Vickery and Steve Thompson.
Who was the best player you shared a rugby field with? The players I admire most weren’t that technically gifted, but were fiercely competitive. The Welsh hooker Jonathan Humphreys would go in with such venom, even when his own body was in pieces. The South African captain Francois Pienaar was also one of the toughest opponents I came across. He was absolutely relentless.
How are you finding life after rugby? I could never completely take myself away from the sport, so I’m enjoying the commentary and punditry side of things at the moment. And alongside my love of food and cooking, I’m a car obsessive. All I’m missing is the money to assemble my ten-car fleet.