Alexey Shved of Khimki Moscow Region is probably one of the best scorers that the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague has ever had. As a youngster, he spend six seasons with CSKA Moscow, from 2006 to 2012. After that, Shved played in the NBA with several teams and then he returned to Europe joining Khimki.
In his second EuroLeague stint, now in its fifth season, Shved has always averaged more than 10 points per game, and from 2017 to 2020 he even averaged more than 20, which allowed him to win the 2017-18 Alphonso Ford Top Scorer trophy. He holds the EuroLeague records for consecutive games scoring 10 or more (78) and 15 or more (32) points.
"Many times, we go with the team there to eat. They always want to go!"
From their time in the United States, Shved and his wife were surprised to see how successful the dish macaroni and cheese was there and had the idea of opening an establishment in Moscow to serve precisely that comfort food.
"In fact, opening Mac & Cheese was my wife's idea. And now it's working great." Shved says.
The first Mac & Cheese location debuted in 2018, almost three years after Shved's return to Europe, and there was a good reason behind the wait.
"We actually spent two years in the middle of figuring out how to open the business," Shved recalled. "We tried different menus, we tried different chefs, then we needed to teach more people how to prepare the food... And we could not be there every day, so in the end it took two years, because we did not want to open some middle-level restaurant in a middle-level food court. If you do something, you need to spend time on it and focus on many things: the restaurant, the jobs, everything. I think we had the idea probably just one year after I returned from the NBA, but we had to spend some time to get everything right."
This level on involvement makes it truly a family business for the Shveds, not just some kind of endorsement with his name.
"We are thinking about it all the time," Shved says. "What we have to improve, what is working well, what needs changing... We are all together there and every day we think about what we can do better for Mac & Cheese. In fact there are three of us. We have one more guy who controls everything, because I cannot be there every day and we need someone we can trust."
Since Mac & Cheese opened its first location, it has now evolved into one full-on restaurant and four spots at Moscow food courts, with plans to expand even more inside Russia and even to other countries. One sign that the business is working is how it's become a favorite even among Shved's teammates at Khimki.
"The cuisine we offer stands more or less between an American style and European style," Shved says. "Americans, Russians, people from all over Europe... everybody likes it. Many times, we go with the team there to eat. They always want to go! They ask me to go there."
When asked what would be his favorite meal on the menu, Shved cannot make up his mind.
"If you want to make a good job of it, you have to be there."
"We have really great hot dogs, with sausage with macaroni, with bacon... Hot sausages to go on top. We also have a dessert called Tres Leches (Three Milks) that is Mexican. People come all the time and order it, but not just a portion – the full cake! They want to take them home. It all really depends on what you like. We have mac and cheese, of course, with chicken, salmon, avocado... Actually, you can put whatever you want in your order. You can mix and match and the cooks will prepare whatever you want. All the macaroni is homemade, too! We have pasta machines so we make them every day, and then we deliver them to all the spots we have."
Seeing how seriously Shved and his wife are taking Mac & Cheese and everything that implies, it begs the question of whether he will be pursuing a career in the restaurant business after retiring. The answer comes as no surprise.
"I like the restaurant business, so when I retire I will probably go in that direction," says the 31-year-old. "For now, I go to the food courts probably about four times a week, to check how everything is going. My wife is around there almost every day. If you want to make a good job of it, you have to be there."
And a good job they are making.
"Last year we were among the top 20 or top 50 food courts in Russia, and this year we were nominated also for the best food court."
The talent and effort that Khimki Moscow Region superstar Alexey Shved combines so well on a basketball court are clearly the right ingredients for his thriving restaurant business, too. You might say they go together like Mac & Cheese!