Monday, August 25, 2008
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
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
"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
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).
Thursday, August 21, 2008
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.
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
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
- 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
- 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.
Monday, August 18, 2008
The day was sunny and bright, making a perfect backdrop for pictures. Low humidity and a slight breeze made the temperature comfortable and pleasant as well...
Spent a couple of hours exploring the Olympic Forest. It's much bigger than I thought and I only got to see about half of it. I will have only one other opportunity to see the rest, but that will be the day before I leave China and might have other things to do, so I might not make back. It will be worth the effort to see the rest, though, if I can make it.
Caught, just by chance, a parade going through Olympic Park, much like the daily parades than pass through Disneyland...
I attended my second Olympic event today, in the Bird's Nest (China's National Stadium). It was electrifying. The crowd was so enthusiastic and energetic, especially when a Chinese athlete was up to compete.
- Women's Discus Finals - USA's Stephanie Brown-Trafton won the Gold Medal on her first throw; I got chills and felt very honored to be in another country, experiencing something like the Olympics, surounded by tens fo thousands of foreigners, and rising to the US National Anthem
- Women's Pole Vault Finals - USA'a Jennifer Stuczynski won the Silver Medal
- Women's 100m Hurdle Semi-Finals - USA's Lolo Jones, Dawn Harper, and Damu Cherry all qulaified for the finals
- Men's 200m Quarter-Finals - USA's Walter Dix and Wallace Spearman qualified for the Semi-Finals
- Men's Long-Jump Finals - no US athletes in that competetion
- Women's 400m Hurdle Semi-Finals - USA's Sheena Tosta and tiffany Ross-Williams qualified for the finals
- Men's 3000m Steeplechase Finals - USA's Anthony Famiglietti finished 13th out of 15
- Women's 800m Finals - no US athletes in that competition
- 5 Medal Ceremonies from previous competitions
Sunday, August 17, 2008
It took quite a bit of pushing, pulling, and prodding to get everyone back into the kitchen to continue their work.
I can admit, I would have liked an autograph and/or a photo op with Phelps as well; but, I am here to do a job and that job comes first. Besides, I don't think it's very professional for us, as staff, to make such a scene. I got to see him from a distance, as he was concluding an interview and was being followed by photographers and TV cameras, but no further attempt to get any closer. My focus was on getting the kitchen back up and running and we couldn't do that and play paparazzi at the same time.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
"According to Deng Yaping, deputy head of the Olympic Village, the canteens in the village have set a world record in terms of scale and quality of the food service they have provided. She said that 18,634 people dined in the village's main canteen from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug 8 alone, far exceeding the figures at the Athens and Sydney Games. 460 dishes of all major international cuisines are served in the main canteed around the clock, with the menu changing every day on an eight-day cycle of rotation.
Meanwhile, 181 tests on food samples from the village have been conducted, with all results meeting the safety standards, added Deng. Deng also noted that the management team of the Olympic Village has so far received 49 letters of compliments, while not a single letter of complaint has been filed."
It's always nice to get a little pat on the back from time to time. It has been an honor a privilege to be involved in this project.
Friday, August 15, 2008
"The Olympic Flame or Olympic Torch is a symbol of the Olympic Games. Commemorating the theft of fire from the Greek god Zeus by Prometheus, its origins lie in ancient Greece, when a fire was kept burning throughout the celebration of the ancient Olympics. The fire was reintroduced at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, and it has been part of the modern Olympic Games ever since.
The Olympic Torch today is ignited several months before the opening celebration of the Olympic Games at the site of the ancient Olympics in Olympia, Greece. Eleven women, representing the roles of priestesses, perform a ceremony in which the torch is kindled by the light of the Sun, its rays concentrated by a parabolic mirror.
The Olympic Torch Relay ends on the day of the opening ceremony in the central stadium of the Games. The final carrier is often kept secret until the last moment, and is usually a sports celebrity of the host country. The final bearer of the torch runs towards the cauldron, often placed at the top of a grand staircase, and then uses the torch to start the flame in the stadium. It is considered a great honour to be asked to light the Olympic Flame. After being lit, the flame continues to burn throughout the Olympics, and is extinguished on the day of the closing ceremony.
Since the first Olympic games celebrated in the modern time, the Olympic Torch has become symbol of the peace between the continents (as well as the Olympians, that share this role in our modern celebration)."
In addition to the beautiful weather, I got to spend a few minutes at the set of the Today Show as they began their live broadcast from Olympic Park this evening (this morning, back in the US).
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Another faithful and frequent reader has asked about the strangest things I've eaten while here in China. Well, here's a little snap-shot:
- Fried Scorpion (taste like a potato chip)
- Grilled Snake (taste like chicken)
- Donkey Penis (taste a lot like a rubber ball)
- Yak's Tongue (yummy!!!)
- Chicken Feet
- Duck's Neck
Aside from these very unusual treats, how about some of these potato chip falvors:
- Fish and Onion
- Italian Red Meat
- Tomato Ketchup
- Chinese Sweet & Spicy
- American BBQ Beef (not at all like BBQ chips back home)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The first month was miserable. I experienced what we have called the "Beijing hack" - difficulty breathing (almost like asthma), severe cough (which has resulted in abdominal definition I haven't had since high school), and dry, itchy throat. And, yes, this lasted a good month; I thought for a time it wouldn't go away...
My diet and the amount of regular exercise I get (in the form of walking from one end of the building to the other multiple times a day) has resulted in a good amount of weight loss and has lowered my blood sugar considerably. As a diabetic, this is great news. I'm hoping it's enough for my doctor to consider taking me off my meds; that's another subject for another day... This has given me a whole new supply of energy, which I need to make it through most of my days right now. Feeding over 15,000 people a day does get to a person after a while...
No major aches and pains, other the normal ones at the end of the day. I have, in only 1 1/2 months, worn out the only pair of Dr. Scholl's gel inserts I brought, something that usually takes me almost a year. The Chinese use a type of bamboo mat as sole inserts, and they are not very comfortable. I'm looking forward to returning to the US and good ol' Dr. Scholl's.
That's about it, I guess... Generally speaking, I haven't felt this good since high school...
USA's Jason Turner came in 21st...
USA's Daryl Sarvenski came in 14th...
USA's Walton Eller took the Gold. Way to go Walton... Go Team USA!!!
Monday, August 11, 2008
I am currently assigned as the Garde Manger Chef (cold kitchen Chef). This is what a typical day looks like for us (myself and 10 Chinese culinary students):
700 boxed side salads
8 different compound salads (pasta salad, for example), about 150 pounds each
250 Executive boxed lunches for catering events
3 kinds of Paninis prepared, 180 each
3,500 individually wrapped pastries and cookies (we do the wrapping)
45 large cookie trays - for 1,500+ people
450 assorted dessert boxes, with 4 different snacks in each
There is a lot more that takes place in the cold kitchen, but there are other Garde Manger Chefs on other shifts who take care of those things... This is what I am responsible for during a 12 -14 hour shift, 6 days a week...
All in a day's work...
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Staff Dining: Bottled Water, Soup, Rice, 2 Meat dishes, 2 Vegetables
Main Dining A: Drinks, 5 Pizzas, 2 Pastas, 2 Sauces, 2 Meat Toppings, Assorted Breads, Rice, Meat Entree, Vegetable Side, 4 Skewers, 2 Grilled Sausages, 8 Cold Compound Salads, Assorted Fruits, Assorted Pastries, Assorted Snacks, Assorted Ice Cream
Main Dining B: Drinks, Tossed Salad Greens, 8 Assorted Salad Toppings, 2 Paninis, Rice, 12 Assorted Chinese Wok-Fried Meats and Vegetables, Assorted Fruits, Assorted Pastries, Assorted Snacks, Assorted Ice Cream
2 Cafes: Drinks, Coffee/Espresso/Etc, 8 Assorted Pastries, 8 Assorted Snacks, 3 To-Go Salads, 3 To-Go Sandwiches, Assorted Fruit
Fine Dining: (Restaurant-Style Table Service) 2 Appetizers, 2 Salads, 2 Entrees, 2 Desserts, 8 Imported Beers, 8 Wines
Saturday, August 9, 2008
My heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to the surviving victim and the family.
In the wake of this attack, we have been instructed to be extra careful and vigilant when venturing out in public during the duration of the games. Nonetheless, China remains a very safe country with a very low rate of violent crime, even in large cities like Beijing.
We do not know at this time if this was Olympic related or politically motivated. The victims were not wearing anything that would set them apart from any other tourist as American or any other nationality.
Again, my thoughts and prayers are with the family, the vicitm, and the rest of the US delegation to the Olympics. May the Lord protect us all and carry us home safely...
Friday, August 8, 2008
We are now feeding almost 30,000 atheletes, trainers, officials, and media, resulting in an estimated 3.5 million meals prepared over the next 2 weeks. There are over 800 recipes on our menu and more than 7,000 people working around the clock to prepare it all.
This is truly a world-class experience, for the greatest athletes in the world...
Thursday, August 7, 2008
The soy sauce we eat in America (and much of the soy sauce in China) is commercially made and only takes a couple of days to produce. However, there are still traditional soy sauce plants that make an incredible product... Traditional soy sauce is smooth, not as salty, but still full of flavor.
It is made, of course, from soy beans. They are harvested and then boiled in large pots until the beans are soft. The softened beans are mixed with flour to make "soy cakes." The soy cakes bake in the sun for about a week and a half. They are ready for the fermentation pots when the cakes are fully molded. The molded soy cakes are then placed in large clay pots, many of which are several hundred years old, with metal lids and the mix is left to ferment in the sun. During fermentaion, the beans break down and the mixture begins to separate. The bean solids float to the top and the liquid below is soy sauce, used in traditional Chinese cuisine.
The process can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months for a single batch of soy sauce, using this ancient method. This method produces a soy sauce that is more redish in color than the dark, almost black liquid we are more accustomed to.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
There are more than just Olympic pins; but, of course, Olympic pins are the ones most sought after. Pin traders arrived and started setting up outside the security gates just a couple of days ago and now the crowds are building and the trading getting more fierce.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I'll be attending a Track & Field event (including 6 gold medal rounds, and 3 non medal rounds), beach volleyball (including 2 men's medal matches and a medal ceremony), and shooting (including 2 qualification rounds, 2 final rounds, and 2 medal ceremonies). In short, with these 3 tickets, I will get to see 15 Olympic events, including 9 gold medal events and medal ceremonies.
This takes an already awesome experience and makes it incredible and almost unbelievable. I can't wait to attend these events. I'll be sure to post pictures and some video...
The NBC station for the United States is the largest in IBC, but is highly guarded, with it's own passes to gain access... So no pictures or access, yet.
Monday, August 4, 2008
The Bird's Nest...
The Olympic Rings on the top of Olympic Tower...
The Aqua Cube...
The Dragon Hotel, across the street from the Aqua Cube...
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Even listening to English is an adventure. There are Americans, but there are Australians, English, Scotish, Irish, South African, and others, all having their own, unique accents and vocabulary.
This is an amazing, world-class experience...
Friday, August 1, 2008
Fine dining is open. It is more like a bistro, serving limited alcoholic beverages, an upscale menu made to order, and table-side service...
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Of course, that wouldn't last forever... Now the coolers are stocked... Pictured here is the storage cooler for fresh produce...
When the Olympic Catering Project started, at the International Broadcast Center, we were receiving a few hundred cases a week; now, we are receiving more than 2,000 cases each day.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The white 'meat' of the fruit is the same texture as watermelon and has a similar taste.
Fruit, of course, is not only for eating. The Chinese are known for their beautiful and elaborate fruit carvings. While not elaborate per se, this bird was carved from a single apple in less than 5 minutes by a student...
Probably my favorite Chinese treat so far - Peking duck... The traditional way to eat peking duck is in a small wrap, similar to a crepe, with fried leeks and a sweet soy bean sauce... simply delicious.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
As for myself... I take no sides on the issue. I can neither confirm nor deny either side of the argument. The games are only 10 days away; only time will tell.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Aramark, the managed services company providing food and dining services for the 2008 Olympic Games (and my regular employer) currently operates in 19 countries; there are repersentatvies from every country working at these games, adding to my cultural experience...
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Before the woks can by used they must be tempered and prepared. This is done by heating every section of the wok over the burner until it gets red hot. This is done several times and in sections in order to prepared the metal as well as burn off any impurities. The final step is to completly coat the wok with oil (vegetable oil) and cook it off. At that point, it is ready to be used.