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Olympians to eat gourmet in Paris

PARIS (AP) – Some 15,000 athletes will get to feast on fresh baguettes, gourmet dishes and environment-friendly French cuisine when Paris hosts the Summer Olympics next year.

The company tasked with serving 40,000 meals a day at the Olympic Village unveiled on Tuesday some of the items on the menu of a sit-down restaurant that plans to serve food created by some of France’s most-renowned chefs.

Bringing a “fun, gourmet and healthy” touch to the plates is key to the job, said Alexandre Mazzia, whose AM restaurant in Marseille earned three Michelin guide stars. He presented a recipe made of crushed chickpeas with herbs and a smoked fish sauce.

Other chefs unveiled dishes that included an elaborate quinoa risotto and a chocolate mousse with raspberries.

“It’s a pride and an honour to be able to show French tradition and skills,” Mazzia told The Associated Press (AP).

French food services company Sodexo was selected to oversee the catering at the athletes’ village and other sites of the Paris Games. The company was assigned the challenge of making the 2024 Olympics an occasion-appropriate opportunity to explore France’s legendary gastronomy.

French chef Amandine Chaignot presents her poultry with crayfish, potato gnocchi, chicken sauce and reduced juice dish during a media conference in Paris, France. PHOTO: AP

“France will invite the world to its table,” said catering manager for the Olympics organising committee Philipp Würz. Athletes “know they will eat well here. Our goal is to provide them with high quality food”.

The eatery at the Olympic Village, which is meant to be the “biggest restaurant in the world”, is expected to seat 3,500 people.

In addition, athletes will have access to “grab and go” food points, including one dedicated exclusively to French cuisine cooked up by chefs, Sodexo said.

“What I cooked here is poultry, guinea fowl slowly roasted with a nice crayfish jus, very reduced, very intense, with a ‘poulette’ sauce (white sauce), so it’s a kind of creamy, comfort food,” renowned chef Amandine Chaignot, who runs a Paris restaurant, explained.

“I wanted it to be a bit representative of what we do in France so it’s quite ‘gourmand’,” she said.

The Olympic Village also will feature a boulangerie producing French baguettes – recently given United Nations (UN) world heritage status – and other breads. Croissants and other pastries will also be available.

One exception will be made to the French way of life, though: Any form of alcohol will not be offered to Olympians in the village, organisers said.

Chef for Sodexo’s venues and sporting events branch Stéphane Chicheri said more than 500 menu items will be available to meet the needs of all sports, special diets, eating habits and religious beliefs.

Another challenge Paris 2024 organisers promised to meet is to make the Games more sustainable and environment-friendly.

In that regard, the main restaurant at the village will use only reusable serving dishes, according to Sodexo. The company said all meals will be based on seasonal products, and plant-based food will represent one-third of the offerings at the Olympic Village.

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