An appetiser for Wasps v La Rochelle at the Ricoh

A French festival, set to arrive at the Ricoh Arena, has been given the seal of approval by one of the country’s famous sporting faces.

Former rugby international Serge Betsen, who made 63 appearances for France over a ten-year period, dropped by to sample his former club Wasps’ preparations for their European Rugby Champions Cup home clash against La Rochelle on Sunday, December 17 (kick-off 1pm).

Ricoh Arena chefs have spent weeks meticulously planning more than 50 different French food options for the venue’s hospitality suites as they prepare to welcome their French counterparts from the picturesque coastal city.

Paying homage to La Rochelle’s rich fishing history and Old Harbour which is lined with seafood restaurants, the menu boasts an array of seafood dishes such as seafood stew; sea bass, cod, shrimp, mussels, clams and saffron potatoes; smoked, salted and poached seafood and roasted Mediterranean vegetables.

The French flavour isn’t limited to the hospitality suites, with the Wasps Nest Fan Village also offering French wine tasting, food and performances from mime artists and the French can-can between from 11.30am, with the Wasps Nest Fan Village re-opening at 5pm after the game.

Serge Betsen said: “I have sampled some of the menu and I have to say, it is the best French food I have tasted that has been cooked by an English chef!

“If I had to recommend a dish for the hospitality guests to go for it would have to be Boeuf Bourguignon – it is packed with so many different flavours; it’s healthy and will help to warm the body up on a cold winter’s day.

“I’m really looking forward to the game against La Rochelle. They are looking really good; physically they are at the top of their game and tactically they have a good game plan. They are currently much more competitive than last year when they lost in the semi-finals against Toulon.

“I think it’s going to be a very tight game, but if Wasps’ forwards and the scrum are on top of their game, then I think they will have enough to win.”

Chris Giddy is head chef at the Ricoh Arena and has been leading on the French menu.

He added: “La Rochelle boasts an impressive seafood industry, and as soon as the cup draw was made we knew we had the opportunity to bring a bit of French culture to Coventry.

“We thought that the feedback from somebody such as Serge who lives and breathes the French culture would be a good gauge of how the food will be received by hospitality guests on match day, and the resounding message from him was ‘bon appetit!’

“Seafood isn’t for everybody though, so we have added other favourites such as confit of duck and have even put a French twist onto the Sunday roast by serving up roasted pork loin with chateau potatoes.”

To book hospitality for Wasps versus La Rochelle on Sunday, December 17 visit www.wasps.co.uk/hospitality

Tickets for Wasps vs La Rochelle are available from www.wasps.co.uk starting from £22 for adults, while under-10s go free in certain areas.

Photo: From left, Sarah Adetoye (Wasps Hospitality) with Serge Betsen