Monday, August 25, 2008

Packed And Ready To Go

The games are over and I have packed, to return to the United States. I have had a wonderful experience in Beijing, truly a world-class experience. But world-class experience also comes with world-class challenges. Working through each challenge, as they arise, has contributed to the overall experience.

It has been an honor to serve in these Olympic games, and to be a witness to hitory. I've learned so much from the Chinese. I look forward to the possibility of future Olympic experiences - 2010 in Vancouver, 2012 in London, and beyond...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

And The Games Come To An End

It was an exciting day - it was my last day as part of the Olympic Catering Project. I will be returning to the United States in about 48 hours and coudn't be more thrilled. I have loved my experiences here, but it's time to go back home...

Most of the work today was for a large catering event to take place after the Closing Ceremony, for 1,000 people - sandwich trays, salads, cokkie trays, pastry trays, in addition to our regular work load. As we work throughout the day, we also took pictures. I asked a few people to sign an Olympic flag, as a momento, and it turned into an autograph session. Everyone crowded around for thier chance to sign Chef Robert's flag...

Of course, the highlight of the night for everyone was the Closing Ceremony. Since we did not have tickets to attend in the stadium, the big event was the fireworks that took place a several times before, during, and after the ceremony. The fireworks show was nice, but very short...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

2008 Summer Olympics - A Safe Olympics!!!!!

An article was released today as an end-of-games review of the food safety for the Olympics. "Beijing Olympics," a daily publication printed be 'Aigopen' as a courtesy to Beijing, had this to say:

"Beijing's food monitoring authorities said here on Friday that food supply for the Beijing Olympics is '1oo percent' safe and not a single food safety accident has been reported so far.

From Aug. 7 to Aug. 20, supervisors from the Olympic food safety inspection team have monitored more than 1.6 million shares of food and not a single food safety accident was reported, said Tang Yuhua, spokeswoman for food safety coordination with the Beijing Food Safety Administration Office.

The official said Beijing has paid special attention to the four important links in the food supply chain, namely the farms, production, destribution and transportation, and canteens. The city has also carried out thorough training of the cooking staff in the final catering link and kept the filing of the menu, raw material and sampling of prepared food. Meanwhile, in response to possible human criminal act of toxic food, the city has equipped food monitoring staff with fast inspection tools which can detect more than 20 toxins and 40 dangerous substances. To prevent potential chemical or radio active contamination, the city has built up its food accident emergency response database."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Absolutely AWESOME!!! - The Sequel

Unlike yesterday, the sun was shining, it was warm (but not hot), no smog, just a beautiful day - a beautiful to day to go back to Chaoyang Beach Volleyball Park for the Men's Beach Volleyball finals.

This time, I saw Brazil compete against Georgia for the bronze. Having lived in Brazil for a couple of years and having a special fondness for its culture and people, I cheered for Brazil, who won the bronze. It was a pretty close match, though Brazil beat Georgia in both sets.

Brazil (a different team of course) was up again to take on the United States for the gold. The first set was very close, but the US won, in spite of being behind during part of the set. Brazil won the second set, and it, too, was close. However, when both teams came out for the third, tie-breaking set, it seemed like Brazil had lost focus and energy and the US ran away with an easy victory (or it appeared to be easy), to take the gold.

There aren't words to describe my feelings about this part of my Olympic adventure. I have been to 4 Olympic events and have been a witness to at least one US gold in each event (Men's Double Trap, Women's Discus, Women's Beach Volleybal, and Men's Beach Volleyball).

Sure, I have seen other events on TV like everyone else; I've caught the highlights and have cheered on my country from the comfort of my apartment. But, to witness it live and take in all the excitement and energy of the crowd and to stand as the US National Anthem plays and the American flag is raised to honor a US vicotry is an experience beyond description and one I'll not soon forget.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Absolutely AWESOME!!!

This morning was, in a word, AWESOME!!! I got to see probably the most anticipated event in the 2008 Summer Olympics - Women's Beach Volleyball. Brazil and China competed for the bronze while China and the United States competed for gold.

In spite of the soaking downpour throughout the morning and being poked in the back and the sides by everyone's umbrellas (that weren't supposed to be used in the stands, according to security stands throughout the arena) it was a spectacular event.

Bronze - China; Silver - China ; GOLD - USA

Again, there's nothing like seeing the red, white, and blue waving in the breeze as the US National Anthem plays while attending an Olympic event, witnessing a US victory.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Don't Serve Those - They Are Poison

I've asked and asked and asked and asked and still can't get a straight answer, as to the origin of this belief or superstition among most of the Chinese chefs. But, they refuse to prepare green beans, because they are poison and they don't want to be responsible for making someone ill by serving poisonous foods. There's no real rationale to support this beliefe, but it's what they have been taught; I don't understand it, but I respect the country and culture and, therefore, respect their beliefs, including their belief that green beans are poisonous.

They also wont prepare Swiss chard and some other fresh, leafy greens. Either they have never used those ingredients and don't want to try or they have some superstitions regarding them much like the green beans.

I will admit that there are ingredients I will not miss and will not use in my cuisine when I return to the United States. Wood Ear Mushroom, for example - yuck!!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chinese Stadium Concessions

I recieved an email today asking about the food at the Olympic Venues. I have been to two events now at two different venues and the menu seems to be the same. It's very basic, but the Chinese people are simple. The menu includes:
  • Sausage (hot dog on a stick - just the meat, not a corn dog)
  • Bread (a wrapped bun, about the size of an extra large hamburger bun)
  • Sweet Bread (kind of a combination of a flattened hot dog bun and an apricot danish, without the icing)
  • Popcorn (popped kettle corn at large venues like the National Stadium and microwave kettle corn at smaller venues like the shooting range)
  • Snickers (the official candy bar of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games)
  • 2 kinds of individual ice creams
  • Bottled Water
  • Coke and Diet Coke
  • Sprite
  • Fanta Orange
  • Budweiser (an official sponsor of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games)
  • Tinsing Beer (an official sponsor of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games)

Of course, no one comes to the Olympics for the venue concessions. They come to support their country, to witness history in the making, and to have a world-class, global experience.