He might be the chillest athlete in any sport—and the best chef.

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The US Open has officially begun in New York City and that means millions of tennis fans will be making their way to Flushing Meadows to witness how America does tennis. And while the US Open may be grittier than Wimbledon (in all fairness, it’s tough to compete with royalty), fans heading to Queens can expect dishes from celebrity chefs and plenty of healthier options to keep them well-fed…perhaps in large part due to the tennis stars they’ve come to cheer.

As both food lovers and supporters of hot men in aprons we were excited to hear that Serbian-born Novak Djokovic not only is a total foodie, but is vegan, gluten-free and still manages to be the #1 tennis player in the world. His career includes 12 Grand Slam singles titles, which means he’s consecutively won all 4 major tennis tournaments (the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open).

So when we heard the 29-year-old tennis great was teaming up with NYC’s Refinery Hotel to host and curate a special pop-up dinner in advance of the US Open, bells and whistles went off. We love food, we love tennis, and we definitely can’t resist an invite to a good party. The dinner was in conjunction with Jacob’s Creek?—?the official wine of the US Open.

It was a Thursday night in the Big Apple. The wine was flowing, the vegan dishes were mouthwatering and Djokovic was dishing about his relationship with food, his match-day rituals and his journey to a healthier lifestyle.

The tennis champ opened up about his first date 10 years ago with now-wife Jelena, saying, “It didn’t go as expected.” He “awkwardly” ordered steak tartare for her, knowing she liked steak. But when dinner arrived, the couple were surprised to see raw meat on the plate. The budding 18-year-old tennis pro politely reminded the waiter he had ordered steak. The waiter politely replied that steak tartare was always served raw, causing the young Djokovic to blush.

So his raw meat game wasn’t exactly smooth, but his relationship with food stems from a young age. Djokovic says of his childhood, “I grew up in the restaurant business. My parents have been in that business for the last 26 years so I know about pastas and Italian food; I grew up eating pasta every day.”

But something changed for the tennis great after years of eating meat and dairy unknowingly caused him to experience allergies, unstable sleep, and up and down energy levels. He gave up gluten. He says of this change, “I was fortunate enough to meet someone who told me I may have problems with gluten and dairy and refined sugar and all these things that were causing inflammation. Once I changed that in 2010 my whole wellbeing shifted in a positive way. I haven’t had allergies, I’ve had great sleep, my energy levels are consistent.” He continued, “Last year I decided to try not eating meat and I feel better than I ever did before. For me, a more plant-based story has become a business story, because two months ago we opened a plant-based restaurant in Monte Carlo, where we live.”

The tennis star also opened up about about his preparation rituals for match day. “There are two kinds of athletes,” he says. “Ones that need peace and calm—doing some breathing, staying home, meditating. And the other group that needs hype music to bring their blood levels up. I’m in the first group. I’m already excited to compete but you don’t want to be overexcited and lose control. As a tennis player, you’re an individual player and it’s only you out there. I truly believe that everything that happens on the court is greatly, greatly influenced by everything that happens before you get on the court.”

So what does the greatest tennis player in the world eat on match day? Everything from organic fruits to seaweed. “I love to have cold-pressed juices in the morning, açai bowls, or energy bowls,” says Djokovic. “Before a match, it’s different types of grains like buckwheat, sometimes rice. I’m excited to be at this level of sports as a vegan athlete.”

Djokovic is feeling ready for the US Open: “I’m doing everything to get myself in the right state of mind and I’m feeling inspired, and of course being at one of the 4 biggest events in sports, the US Open is special. I’m one of 128 players.”

One of Djokovic’s favorite dishes from his Monte Carlo restaurant is the Zucchini Lasagna. We tried it at the Jacob’s Creek dinner and can confirm its deliciousness. And because we love you so much, we persuaded the tennis god to give us the recipe. Try it, eat it, and then go watch some tennis.

Novak Djokovic’s Zucchini Lasagna

Note: Yes, the “tbs” designation refers to tablespoons. No teaspoons in this baby!

Step 1: Make the Cashew Ricotta.

1 cup soaked cashew

1?4 cup water

1 tbs nutritional yeast

1?2 tbs lemon juice

1?4 tbs salt

• Combine everything in food processor.

Step 2: Prepare the Pistachio Pesto.

3?4 cup packed basil leaves

1?4 cup packed baby spinach leaves

1?4 pistachios

3 tbs olive oil

1?2 tbs salt

1?2 tbs lemon juice

pinch of pepper

• Place ingredients in food processor and blend until well combined.

Step 3: Make the Red Pepper Marinara.

1?4 cup sun dried tomatoes, soaked one hour and then squeezed of water

1 tomato, seeded and roughly chopped

1?2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1?2 shallot, chopped

1 tbs lemon juice

2 tbs olive oil

1?4 tbs salt

2 pinches of red chili flakes

• Combine everything in food processor.

Step 4: Layer the following ingredients in this order:

Cashew Ricotta

1 zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced on a mandoline

Pistachio Pesto

1 medium tomato, sliced

Red Pepper Marinara

Fresh Arugula

Olive oil, drizzled

Garnish with oregano, cashews, and red chili flakes.