Meet the team responsible for feeding the US team in Tokyo

Brian Knutson was busy.

As director of nutrition and nutrition services for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, he is responsible for orchestrating the extensive operation that will help feed the U.S. team at the Tokyo Olympics – ensuring that athletes continue to have access to their favorites. food even when you are preparing to compete in half the world.

For more than a year, Knutson and his team have worked with dietitians Team USA, working with local vendors and laying the groundwork for the operation of the USOPC High Performance Center at Okura Sports Park in Setagaya, Japan will serve. as a local training center around the games.

Athletes, who are subject to strict restrictions on when and how they can leave the Olympic Village due to COVID-19, will have the Knutson function as a known source of food outside of what the village has to offer.

As he said, Knutson estimates that his team will provide 7,000 meals to athletes and staff over 27 days.

“We serve lunch and dinner while we work every day,” Knutson wrote in an email earlier this month. “Our teams eat mostly lean meats, chicken breast, fish and vegetarian meals and of course lots of pasta and meatballs.”

Ahead of the Games, Knutson said staff sent about 72,000 pounds of food and drink to Tokyo from the Colorado Springs, Colorado, home to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center. Shipments included products in kind from Team USA sponsors such as Coca-Cola and Smucker’s.

Knutson’s team has also enlisted the help of a local chef, Michiko Nakamura, and worked with seven vendors in Japan to supply some of the key ingredients for the dishes.

Knutson wrote in the email that he has already ordered 2,000 kilograms of various proteins from an American company in Japan and over 350 kilograms of salmon from a local fish seller. “And we just started ordering,” he added.

Knutson said his staff will primarily cater to athletes from 11 teams in downtown Setagaya – the only one of its kind for U.S. athletes at the Games including those from swimming and track and court. The goal is to recreate meals that may be familiar to athletes, such as favorite dishes from the US Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, and to inject Japanese flavors whenever possible.

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“Knowing we can’t get all the same ingredients, our chef has made changes to reflect the flavors here in the country,” Knutson wrote.

“I’ve seen some amazing quality products here right now, while at the beginning of the growing season for Japan.”

The Knutson team, which includes five people in Japan, works with sports dietitians for individual teams to ensure that athletes are well nourished. The food is buffet style, according to COVID-19 countermeasures, although dietitians can also order canned meals for individual athletes or teams, Knutson said.

Of course, preparing so much food requires enormous cooking and serving equipment. So in addition to the 60 food pallets, Knutson said Team USA sent 20 pallets full of various equipment – including silverware and plates. He also ordered 13 larger items such as gas stoves, refrigerators and freezers.

Knutson wrote that when the Games are over, the kitchen equipment will remain with the Setagaya Sports Foundation, which manages the sports park used by Team USA as a training center.

Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

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