Youth Olympic Village serves the food of champions
Young athletes with aspirations of winning gold need fuelling, and the Youth Olympic Village in Buenos Aires is doing just that, while also catering to diverse tastes and offering food from all around the world.
Catering for athletes from different countries and cultures is no mean feat, which is why, from 5am until midnight, more than 8,000 plates of food are served in the dining hall of the Youth Olympic Village four times a day for close to 7,000 diners. At peak hours, around 2,000 people eat at the same time, in the same space.
Not surprisingly, it took organisers more than a year to prepare for such an undertaking. Dining hall staff had to learn about food from around the world to better serve their guests.
A specific menu was created specifically for the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018. It focuses on the kind of food athletes need to peak while also considering different cultures, religions, diets and preferences. Athletes can try anything from pasta, local fare and Asian cuisine, to gluten-free and vegetarian options.
While the menu specialises on distinct flavours, employees were surprised to see that young people are more inclined to eat certain foods regardless of their nationality.
"One night we served pizza and everyone wanted it. It was a success since they ate 7,000 pizzas,” said Thaiz, dining hall manager.
Pizza was not the only big hit. "The line for shawarma, a food that comes from Asia and which resembles a kebab, was huge. Everyone wanted to try it."
“People from 206 different countries eat breakfast, lunch and dinner here,” he continues. “This kind of dining environment often leads to friendships among the delegations. What happens in this place is really interesting. In the first few days each delegation sat separately. As time went by the athletes started to meet other people and now you see tables that are very mixed.”
Moreover, Thaiz explained how their dining hall behaviour shows where the athletes are in terms of competition.
“At first it seemed like they were here on vacation. As days pass you notice how the environment changes,” he said. “It’s obvious who is going to play or compete on any given day.”