Steve Coombs is the director of foods for this week’s B.C. Winter Games in Greater Vernon.

Steve Coombs is the director of foods for this week’s B.C. Winter Games in Greater Vernon.

B.C. Games athletes to be fed healthy meals

B.C. Games food services group in Greater Vernon will prepare and serve close to 19,000 meals over the four days of the Games...

Think your weekly grocery bill is big?

Try filling out this order for more than 1,600 guests, coming to stay for four days:

  • 800 pounds of fruit salad;
  • 850 pounds of potato salad;
  • 650 pounds of roast beef;
  • 9,200 sausages;
  • 2,050 garlic toast slices;
  • 500 pounds of pasta;
  • 2,000 fruit snacks;
  • 11, 800 pieces of fruit (apples, oranges, bananas);
  • 12,000 juice boxes;
  • 2,000 litres of milk (two per cent);
  • 3,200 yogourts;
  • 6,400 buns and bagels.

Plus, you have to deal with guests’ specific requests, such as no nuts, gluten-free food or vegetarian.

And that’s what, as director of foods for the B.C. Winter Games, Steve Coombs and his volunteers will be working with this week in Greater Vernon.

“Our difficulty is trying to provide a nutritious meal on a scale of 1,600 to 1,700 people for each meal, plus handle all of the allergies,” said Coombs, 52, banquets manager at the Best Western Plus Vernon Lodge Hotel, who began training as a chef in his native London at age 16.

“Nuts, dairy, gluten and vegetarian are the four main issues. We’ve had about 80 different dietary requests. It’s fairly predictable, it’s just the quantity that’s the issue.”

Coombs and his foods group are responsible for the preparation and delivery of breakfast, lunch and dinner for four days, an estimated 18,000 to 19,000 meals from Thursday to Sunday.

Breakfast and dinner will be handled by Coombs’ executive chef chair, Bob Dykes, former chef to Jim Pattison.

Meals will include roast beef and pasta, along with scrambled eggs, omelettes, pancakes, bacon, sausages, cereal and porridge.

Lunch will be handled by another of Coombs’ key directorate, Kyla Macaulay of Gumtree Catering, who will set up shop at Fulton Secondary to prepare 1,600 box lunches every day of the Games.

Coombs and his volunteer chairs – which also include Laurell Cornell (equipment), Trish Stamhuis (food volunteers) and Chris Russell (health department) – submitted their ideas for the menu to the local host committee and to the B.C. Games office in Victoria.

“Kyla has certainly added her flair to the lunch menu, which is great,” said Coombs. “And Bob has chefs from golf courses that are not busy at the moment helping him out. We’ll be working on about 30 volunteers per meal, some will be helping in the kitchen, but we’ll have about five or six chefs working throughout the four days.”

Cobbs Bread have donated the bread for the foods group and Buy-Low Foods have supplied a great deal of the fruits. Sysco Canada from Lake Country will donate refrigerated trucks to keep the food fresh.

“There’s been very little friction on anything,” said Coombs. “Lots of people have been saying ‘we’ll lend you this or we’ll lend you that.’”

Coombs praised his co-chairs and all the volunteers who have signed up to help with food preparation. He’s anxious to get cooking, so to speak.

“We’re all anxious to get started,” he smiled. “Us chefs and caterers, we’re not meeting-oriented, we don’t fit well into that. Just give us the job and we’ll get it done.

“We’ve got a very good team. We’re ready. We’ve got meals to prepare and meals to get out.”