Behind the Olympic-caliber athletes scarfing down 5,000-plus daily calories at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs is a hardworking chef creating the food that fuels peak performance. And with 350 weary, ravenous athletes walking into the dining hall each day, you get a pretty good idea of executive chef Jacque Hamilton's job.
Besides making sure there's enough milk—OTC athletes gulp down about 15,000 gallons of the stuff annually—she keeps meals fresh and nutritious by varying menu items. Recently, that's meant a variety of Russian-themed cuisine in preparation for the February games in Sochi. Popular items include wild-mushroom stroganoff, a delicious meatless alternative for vegetarian athletes. Other big hits include eggplant caviar served on blini, a Russian-style pancake. Perhaps the most popular dish is Borscht. Hamilton's take on the traditional beet-based soup includes more beets for extra antioxidants and more meat for a little more muscle-fueling protein.
"You can't cook one thing for all athletes. Each person has different dietary needs," Hamilton says. "We just try to stick to clean labels, with only a few ingredients, to give athletes the right kind of fuel for performance and recovery."
Below, Hamilton's most popular Winter Games-inspired meals, which can easily be whipped up at home.