The Ginormous Olympic Dining Hall Will Serve 60,000 Meals a Day


By Gillie Houston Posted May 13, 2016

Insert your own joke about Olympic-sized apptites.

When the Rio de Janeiro Olympics kick off in August, the residents of the athletes village will have access to one heck of a culinary experience. According to the Associated Press, the dining room will be a space larger than two football fields, where athletes and support staff will consume 60,000 meals made from 460,000 pounds of raw ingredients each day.

The kitchen, itself the size of a third football field, will prepare dishes for the dining hall's five buffets: Asian, International, Pasta and Pizza, Halal and Kosher, and, of course, Brazilian. The Brazilian buffet will introduce the world's top athletes to regional specialties and staples (like rice, black beans and a whole lot of meat), as well as serve 40 types of Brazilian fruit including acai, goiaba, caju, and maracuju.

You can probably guess the reason for all this variety and volume: Athletes from around the world have all kinds of different dietary preferences and requirements. It's the job of the Olympic food and beverage committee, led by director Marcello Cordeiro, to ensure that Muslim and Jewish athletes have access to food that adheres to their religious dietary laws, that anyone used to breakfasting in Japan has access to rice and miso soup or fish and natto, and that there's an adequate supply of kimchee on hand (it's being shipped in from Korea).

To prepare for this massive culinary undertaking, Cordeiro and his team will taste test every item they're planning to serve. Because of the scope of the menu, some 20 tastings have been scheduled to fit everything in, during which the team samples items from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.—judging each on taste, texture, and presentation. "We want to make sure when there is a medal or a record, part of that record also goes to our food team," Cordeiro told the A.P.

There's also the issue of food safety, which is especially complicated in a professional sports environment: Food must be free from additives that could create false positives on performance-enhancing drug tests, such as the steroid Clenbuterol, which is used in some countries to produce leaner meat in livestock.

Tens of thousands of sandwiches, 20 chefs and 4 million biodegradeable plates will all factor into the Olympic feeding frenzy. After all, it takes a village to feed a village—especially a village full of hungry athletes competing for the most important prizes of their lives.

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