Food Fit For An Athlete – And Everyone Else

With the 28th edition of the SEA Games gracing Singapore in less than a month, loads of preparations have been underway to guarantee a near-flawless execution of the biennial showcase of athletes from South East Asia.

While a bevy of athletes have been working exceptionally hard in hopes to outdo their rivals, a group of dedicated nutritionists and cooks have slogged out as hard as (if not, even harder than) the aforementioned sportsmen and women to ensure everybody involved in the games – athletes, officials, and volunteers – would be well and properly fed.

Together with the Singapore Southeast Asian Games Organising Committee (SINGSOC) and Singapore Sports Institute (SSI), project chief Chef Kenneth Francisco (Head of Food and Beverage Operations during the 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG)) “believes at least 70 per cent of the food that will be served can be eaten by everyone.

In an attempt to balance “tasty” and “healthy”, recipes of local favourites such as Hainanese chicken rice and mee soto have been tweaked in order to be “leaner” and “contain lower levels of salt”. Only time will tell as to whether they would pass the “tasty” test. These are among the 120 dishes scheduled to make an appearance in the specially constructed menu over the course of the Games.

Clockwise from top-left: Chef Kenneth Francisco (in black), along with Team Singapore athletes (in red), and members of the kitchen team (in chef jackets); sauteed pasta with garlic and fresh herbs; a medley of dishes which would be available for athletes and officials during the Games; and local favourite – Hainanese chicken rice. (Photos: Lawrence Wong Facebook page and Yahoo Singapore)

If this meal initiative is to be genuinely broadened to include the army of Games volunteers, it would certainly be very encouraging news. Such honour and luxury wasn’t the case five years ago.

During the inaugural YOG held in Singapore in 2010, 21 volunteers went down with food poisoning after consuming a catered meal. Fortunately, the affected volunteers fully recovered. No athletes were affected; as they consumed different meals which were not provided from the said catering company.

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