Warren Conference Center Executive Chef Todd Boule has cooked for crowds at the country's top restaurants and glittering events, but he has never gone through 2,700 melons in a day.
The melons are one of the hottest items, Boule said, at the Olympic Village's casual dining outlet in Athens, Greece, where he is working as senior executive chef. The athletes are also keen on carbohydrates, going through 500 pounds of rice a day.
"It's phenomenal some of the volume we're going through," Boule said in a telephone interview yesterday. "It makes me feel great to be a part of that. I can serve them great food and give them good nutrition. It's fantastic."
The casual dining facility is open 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. and is set up like an informal Greek "taverna," said Boule. It serves lunch and dinner to about 700 people, peaking with an estimated 10,000 meals daily, he said.
"The main dining room seats about 5,500," said Boule. "They're not in a rush when they come here."
Pizza is also a popular menu item, and Boule said every offering has a nutrition information label to go with it.
Preparing meals for crowds is not that much different than cooking for intimate groups, Boule said. Organization is key, said Boule, who is managing four executive chefs, five sous chefs (assistant chefs) and about 110 cooks.
"You still have attention to detail, but it's a little different," said Boule. "It's managing the masses."
One organizational challenge revolves around the daily food deliveries, Boule said. Security precautions, including scanning food trucks with X-rays prior to entering the Olympic Village, take extra time, he said.
Boule thought language would be the biggest problem in the kitchen, but the English- and Greek-speaking workers have found common ground, he said.
"We speak the language of food," said Boule. "It's like watching a ballet now here in the kitchen."
Boule said he usually works 38-hour shifts, then sleeps nine hours and begins again. The long days are worth it to make sure the games run smoothly, he said.
"It's making sure my staff has the tools they need to serve great meals," said Boule. "I know it's only for 20 days, and it's not going to kill me."
And this from the Philadelphia Daily News, Aug 18, 2004:
1. You would have to eat an entire meal every 2.5 seconds for 60 days straight to equal the 2 million meals that will be consumed in the Olympic Village during the Summer Games.
2. It will require a crew of more than 2,000 - including 50 chefs and 700 cooks - to satisfy the cravings of hungry Olympians; that's nearly four times the number of athletes in the U.S. Olympic delegation.
3. One of the world's first cookbooks was written in the 5th century B.C. by a Greek named Archestratus. It was called "Gastronomia." That's where the word "gastronomy" comes from.
4. If you laid out all of the bread being served during the Athens Summer Games, it would cover 6 ½ basketball courts.
5. All of the bananas to be consumed in the Olympic Village, if lined end to end, would cover the marathon route three times over. (That route, by the way, follows part of the original path run by the messenger Phidippides in 490 B.C.)
6. Athens powerlifter Pyrros Dimas won Olympic gold in Sydney by snatching 187.25 pounds. He would have to lift 1,202 times that to equal the weight of all the seafood that will be consumed in the Olympic Village.
7. The 6.65 million bottles of water that will hydrate athletes in the Olympic Village could fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
8. It would take the average American 1,264 years to consume the amount of potatoes that will be eaten during the Summer Games.
9. If you put all the eggs Olympians will consume end to end...you could circle the Olympic track 34,895 times.
10. Aramark/Dasko company will go through enough cheese to top more than 100,000 pizzas.