Kate Heyhoe

Kate's Global Kitchen

Feeding the Olympics,
Down Under

by Kate Heyhoe

Have you ever considered the intricacies of feeding world-class athletes? I recall a news story recently about an Argentine soccer team traveling by air with their coach. The flight attendants were passing out bagels when the coach went ballistic, tearing the bagels out of the team mates hands before they could eat them. Why? Because these were poppy seed bagels. Heroin is made from poppies, and while poppy seeds used in cooking are quite benign, they can falsely show up as heroin on a drug-test.

Olympic Athlete  
The chefs at the Sydney Olympics face even greater challenges. They're feeding not just one team, but some 28,000 mouths from all over the world—in a dining room that seats 4000 at a time, 24 hours a day. Here's a rundown of their Olympic Village clientele:

10,000 athletes
8,000 coaches and staff
5,100 Olympic officials
5,000 media members

The chefs are provided by Aramark Corporation, based in Philadelphia. It's the nation's second largest foodservice provider, providing the meals served in schools, hospitals, corporations, and industries across the US and abroad. Sydney isn't their first stint at the Olympics—Aramark also fed the athletes and staff in twelve previous Olympics, including the 1996 Atlanta and the 1968 Mexico City games.

According to Olympic Village Executive Chef Michael Crane, one of the biggest lessons learned at the Atlanta games was that the food wasn't spiced correctly. With athletes of all cultures and taste preferences, seasoning foods perfectly can be challenging. To solve the problem, this year's Olympic Village features an international spice station, so diners can "season to taste," as the saying goes.

Spices are just one aspect of feeding the Olympic Village. "We provide the individual athlete the ability to customize each meal according to his or her training regimen and dietary guidelines," says Crane. His World Menu Down Under sounds like a foodie's dream come true, spanning just about every cuisine imaginable, with an emphasis on freshness, simplicity and pure, clean flavors. The more than 600 recipes embrace a vast array of cultures, ethnic and religious backgrounds. Fortunately, Australia is a powerhouse of fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables, often with an undercurrent of Asian flavorings, giving the chefs a resourceful pantry to draw from.

In addition to an extensive meal selection, the Olympic Village offers athletes 24-hour availability to such dishes as Spanish onion salad, seaweed, tofu, and one of its most popular items, cabbage kimchee. In fact, some 2,500 pounds of kimchee were devoured in the first two weeks of the Atlanta games. Perhaps the only item more popular was a true American specialty: Rice Krispies treats. "We couldn't keep up with the demand," says Crane.

Olympic Athletes  

Olympics World Menu Down Under

Here's a sample of the foods being offered to this year's Olympic athletes, officials and media. It's a menu that not only meets the nutritional and dietary needs of Olympic athletes, but it does so through interesting and satisfying meals...

Grilled Snapper with Szechuan Spices
Thai Fish Cakes
Chicken Tikka Char Grill

United States
Corn Crusted Chicken Breast, Tabasco Green Biscuit
Mesquite Smoked Beef Brisket with Chargrilled Chipolte
White Barbeque Sauce
Sweetwater Cactus Slaw
Longhorn Mopping Sauce

Latin America
Cuban Adobe Pork with Papaya Jicama Slaw
Green Chili Tamales with Citrus Cilantro Creme Fraiche
Garlic Plantain Chips

A vast array of fresh and seasonal breads, vegetables, cheeses, meats and fruits

Scottish shortbreads, Toffee Crunch bar, fresh fruit tarts, Sultana cakes, Linzer tort
Seasonal whole and exotic fruits

Of course, if you don't like the menu of the day, don't worry. There's an ongoing pizza station at all times, another indication that pizza has become the world's favorite food. Or, as Crane calls it, "an international comfort food." and whether you win the gold medal or not, a little bit of comfort food—or a slice of pizza—is always welcome.


Good luck to all the athletes —
Kate Heyhoe


Olympic Recipes, Down Under:

These recipes are meant to serve a large, hungry crowd... Of 500. You probably won't be feeding that many athletes or even non-athletes, but you may want to see just what it takes to cook dinner in the Sydney Olympic Village...

Curried Red-Snapper, for 500
Braised Chicken Michigan, for 500


Olympic Recipes, in family-size portions:

The following recipes are examples of international menu items served to the athletes at various Olympic Games. Each recipe has been revised to accommodate family-sized portions...

Belgian White Veal Stew
     (Blanquette de Veau à l'ancienne)
     (2000 Sydney Olympic Games)
African Peanut Chicken Soup
     (1988 Calgary Olympic Games)
Salad Nicoise
      (1994 Lillehammer and the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games)
Spanish Paella Valenciana
     (1992 Barcelona Olympic Games)
Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce
     (1996 Atlanta Olympic Games)
Heavenly Potatoes
     (1996 Atlanta Olympic Games)
Chick Pea and Feta Salad
     (1996 Atlanta Olympic Games)
Almond Custard
     (1996 Atlanta Olympic Games)
Georgia Peach Cobbler
     (1996 Atlanta Olympic Games)


Kate's Global Kitchen for September, 2000:

9/02/00 Pistou and Pesto: Basil's Last Stand
9/09/00 Cook Your Wurst! It's Oktoberfest
9/16/00 Feeding the Olympics, Down Under
9/23/00 Eating Australian
9/30/00 Italian Meatballs, My Way

Copyright © 2000, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.


Current Kate's Global Kitchen
Kate's Global Kitchen Archive


This page created September 2000