LIFE> Epicure
Peking duck flies off plates of athletes
By Wan Wan (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-08-12 10:12

Peking duck flies off plates of athletes

Athletes take supper at the dining hall in the Olympic village. File photo

Beijing's most famous dish is proving to be a hit with athletes in the Olympic Village, who do not even have to step out of the area to enjoy the treat.

"I like the Peking Duck," said Cyrille Gombrowicz, a badminton coach from France, in the village cafeteria last week.

"It's very special."

Dipped in sweet plum sauce and wrapped with spring onion in a thin pancake, the succulent slices of roast duck is now a must-have on most plates in the village.

A special kitchen in the village cafeteria makes sure the dish is served adequately.

"Asian food is always popular," said Matthew Moss, operations director of Olympic caterer Aramark.

"We couldn't have had a station without Peking duck.

The kitchen serves 300 ducks daily, he said. The fowl are so popular stocks are out by 8 pm.

Aramark has hired chefs from Quanjude, the 136-year-old Peking duck chain, to ensure authenticity of the dish.

"We adapted our kitchen to make sure everything is prepared as it would be in the traditional duck restaurant," Moss said.

"From the oven to the racks and hooks, things are exactly as what the Chinese do."

The caterer has also hired 800 top chefs, as well as 124 executive chefs from 11 countries, to satisfy every palate.

Moss said the Chinese chefs whip up all kinds of dishes and have a particularly good grasp of Asian flavors.

The company has also prepared about 900 recipes, the result of two years of testing and being involved in 14 Olympic Games.

Preserving local flavors goes hand in hand with maintaining a high standard, he said.

"Our local partners help educate us on special flavors needed for making authentic Chinese food," Moss said.

The caterer churns out about 35,000 meals in the village a day, said Doug Bradley, Aramark's Olympic project culinary director.

(China Daily 08/11/2008 page3)