Saturday, June 28, 2008

Olympic Challenges

What are the challenges we face providing the food service for the Olympics? In the case of these Olympic Games there are several... The first and most obvious - the language barrier. As a Western chef, I am here teaching Western food, methods, and techniques but I have no grasp of the Chinese language. Several of the Chinese cooks speak at least a little English, and that helps. I speak slowly and use broken, simple English, similar to their level of English. That coupled with a lot of demonstration seems to do the trick. If I need to give more complicated directions there are interpreters on hand.

Another major challenge right now is the availability of product. We are going through many levels of bureaucracy - customs approvals, Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, federal government, local government... All the red tape has left our refrigerators empty and our cupboards bare. For example, we have absolutely no fresh or frozen vegetables and none will be available for another week or so. It appears that all of these levels of involvement in the supply chain were not ready for the volume of purchasing...

Now is the time to work out these issues... If this happens when the games start we could be in real trouble.

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