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September 11, 2000
Kangaroo steak, anyone?
Athletes in need of a culinary lift could do worse than check out the kangaroo prosciutto on offer at the Olympic Village.
Chefs for the Sydney Games have cooked up a storm in "bush tucker" to tempt their guests from 200 countries.
Eating kangaroo meat in the land that gave the world "Skippy", the popular television series, may seem odd. But kangaroo steak is a favourite Down Under.
For the less adventuresome, caterers have laid on fare for all tastes and religions.
"We have specifically made sure that items are prepared for athletes with different taste preferences," said Doug Bradley of Philadelphia-based Aramark, which has formed a joint venture with Australia's Spotless Services for the Olympics.
There's more to feeding 10,500 competitors than throwing a few "shrimp on the barbie".
Caterers have to provide Asian food, kosher dishes for Jewish athletes, halal menus for Muslims, and Latin American cuisine.
Besides the athletes they also have to feed 6,000 national team and Olympic officials in the 60,000 square-metre (645,000 square-foot) main dining hall.
"We opened with expectations of 50,000 meals a day but now that is up to 60,000," said Bradley, adding that by the time the Games end they will have served more than 1.5 million meals.
"Handling the logistics is the challenge after the actual preparing of the food," said Bradley, who has served four U.S. presidents.
He said so far the athletes had no favourite dish or type of food.
"It varies from day to day, the Asian stations are popular one day, then the next it will be pastas," Bradley said.
But he added they were careful about nutrition.
"They pay very careful attention to that, many of them are passing up on the deserts now, although they say they will try them after their events are over," Bradley said.
Aramark has brought in chefs from around the world, including the United States, Germany, South Korea and Japan, who select from a menu of more than 1,500 dishes.
"We've been tied to the Olympics in some role since 1968," Bradley said.
Aramark is one of the biggest food service providers in the world with 160,000 employees in 15 countries and $7 billion in annual revenues.
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