Tennis Star Novak Djokovic Talks Wine, Food & His New Vegan Restaurant

Photo courtesy Beth Wilson / flickr

When top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic of Serbia isn’t conquering the court, he focuses his energy on tastier things: wine and food.

For the second consecutive year, Djokovic teamed with the official wine of the U.S. Open, Australian brand Jacob’s Creek, to star in its “Made by” film series. In the shorts, he reveals memorable meals throughout his life. These include the first date with his now-wife, Jelena, and a look back at his childhood dinners with his parents, who owned restaurants while he was growing up.

Djokovic, who practices a plant-based, gluten-free diet, recently opened a vegan restaurant Eqvita in Monte Carlo, where he and his wife live. He attributes his professional success to healthy eating.

“My wife and I have experienced an evolution in food and have actually seen how much it has influenced our well-being for good, and we wanted to share that passion with all the people in Monte Carlo,” says Djokovic.

We caught up with Djokovic to discuss everything from his diet to his Serbian upbringing and his soft spot for red wine.

Novak Djokovic’s Zucchini Lasagna

What changes has your diet had on your game?

My diet hasn’t just changed my game, it’s changed my life, my well-being. And if I feel better, that obviously transfers to my professional life. Eating vegan makes me more aware of my body on the court. I removed toxins from my body, and with them went all the inflammation and other things that were messing with my energy levels.

How did your upbringing inspire your decision to open Eqvita?

Chef Djokovic
Photo courtesy Krista Kennell / AP Images for Jacob’s Creek

The restaurant world is quite familiar to me because I grew with parents who were in the restaurant business for over 26 years. When I was growing up looking at my parents go through the highs and lows of being in such an enterprise, I never thought I would be in the restaurant business. But I guess there’s something written in the stars… It’s not just a business initiative—it’s passion and love for food.

What can we find on the menu at Eqvita?

Everything is 100% organic, plant-based. This kind of diet changed my life and how healthy I feel. It hasn’t been discovered as much in the mainstream, but actually, people eat a lot of things [that are] plant-based foods and raw foods—salad, fruits and even desserts. It was so interesting for me to find out how many dishes we can prepare with raw ingredients like burgers and zucchini lasagna. It’s phenomenal, because you can pack them with subtle ingredients that are full of nutrients.

Were you able to infuse the menu with any traditional Serbian dishes you enjoyed growing up?

Serbian cuisine is really based on red meat and bread, but we want to introduce a Serbian traditional flavor in our way, plant-based. Some dishes will include cabbage, for instance. It’s quite different from my parents’ restaurant.

Tell me about the wine list.

We have organic wines… We work with some great wineries that supply us with some really good choices.

And what about you? What do you like to drink?

I like some good red wine.

Published on September 1, 2016
Topics: Wine Enthusiast Q+A
About the Author
Marina Vataj
Digital Content Director

Vataj has written about wine and food, among other topics, for various publications for more than a decade, including The New York Post and Life & Style. At W.E., she manages all digital editorial content, including video and podcast production. She’s also an adjunct professor at a college in NY, where she teaches journalism. She has a Masters of Fine Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and a Level 3 Advanced Wine & Spirits Education Trust certification from the International Wine Center.

Email: mvataj@wineenthusiast.net.




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