Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

In Olympic Village, Cooks Are Going for the Gold

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

In Olympic Village, Cooks Are Going for the Gold

Article excerpt

THE OLYMPICS are about to begin in Atlanta. The television screen has started showing amazing bodies performing extraordinary feats. As I watch, I find myself wondering, What do those people eat?

The short answer seems to be that they eat a lot, especially a lot of bananas. Outside Atlanta, in the community of College Park, mounds of bananas are being gathered in a large climate-controlled room. One reason bananas are popular with athletes is because bananas contain potassium, which helps prevent muscle cramps.

Just how popular are they? About 15 tons worth. That is how many bananas Cynthia Dexter-Bowen, purchasing director for the Olympic Village, has planned to serve between July 6 and Aug. 7, the time the Olympic Village dining room is open.

The Olympic Games begin Friday and end Aug. 4, but the dining hall is in business before and after the games. The "banana room" is being used to ripen and store bananas, as well as apples, oranges and melons.

Dexter-Bowen works for ARAMARK, a food service operation with headquarters in Philadelphia.

Not long ago, I talked on the telephone about the Olympic food scene with Dexter-Bowen and a couple of her ARAMARK colleagues. They were Ann C. Grandjean, who specializes in sports nutrition, and Louis Ferretti, a Rhode Island chef who is in charge of overseeing the meals served in the village.

Big feeds always generate big statistics. In my conversation with the Olympic Village folks, I recall hearing something about 10,000 athletes eating the equivalent of 60,000 meals a day, whipped up from 550 recipes by 100 cooks working in modular kitchens made by connecting 26 specially outfitted tractor trailers.

I was more interested in big secrets. Namely, I was looking for a few tips on how to make myself a champion athlete by imitating the eating habits of the guys and gals who go for the gold. Grandjean, the sports nutritionist, did not offer me much hope.

Olympic athletes are different than you and me, she said, "primarily because they do what you and I should be doing; they get off their behinds and exercise. …

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