03 August 2023 | in Summer FISU World University Games
Jie Si, FISU Games Village Main Executive Chef
It is spicy, hot, and apparently very healthy.
The province of Sichuan is known for its distinguished cuisine. It turns out that it can also be very powerful for the FISU World University Games athletes.
More than six thousand students are competing this summer in Chengdu. They need to overcome a plethora of challenges: logistics, jetlag, laundry, cultural differences.
And, for many, food.
When you are abroad, thousands of kilometres away from home, it may be very difficult to eat what you are used to. There are obviously many people that like trying different dishes, but experimenting with diet before a competition may not be the best idea.
Preparing food for the athletes then becomes a very critical job. In Chengdu, athletes eat mainly at the two dining halls located in the athletes’ village.Kevin Stone, Executive Sous chef and Jie Si, Main Executive Chef at the FISU Games Village
The facilities offer a variety of dishes from around the world. The menu is divided into four main sections: European, Mediterranean, Asian, and Chinese. There are also special options for vegetarians.
“We have been preparing for these Games for many years. I have come here half a year ago,” said Jie Si, Main Executive Chef, who previously worked at many large-scale events such as the 7th Military World Games in 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
One of the biggest tasks of Si and his team is to find a good balance between local and international food. Sichuan cuisine includes dishes such as ‘Dan Dan Mian’ (a type of noodles), ‘Kung Pao chicken’ or the famous ‘Hot Pot’, which is essentially a mix of different Chinese specialities.
“Most of Chinese food here is traditionally local, but we have changed some bits to make it more accessible. Some people might not be able to eat that spicy,” said Kevin Stone, Executive Sous-chef.
“Spicy or hot food gives you stimulation to your body. It gives you energy and makes your blood [flow] faster. In that way, the local cuisine is good for the athletes, especially bearing in mind the weather that we have here,” added the England-born chef.
The climate in Chengdu can be very problematic for some athletes. Thanks to Sichuan food, they can gain, however, protection that could help them during the FISU Games.
“We were concerned about some foreign athletes. That is why we are very careful about the quality of products that we use. The better ingredients we have, the better performance can be achieved by our athletes,” said Si.
Regardless of the effects at the sports venues, for every cook the most important is the opinion about their food. What is on offer at the FISU Games Village is receiving a rather positive response.
“We have here everything that we need. The one dish that I really like is these local skewers, Chuan Chuan Xiang,” said Piotr Ludwiczak, a Polish swimmer.
“I really appreciate trying food from different cultures. My favourite one so far is the chicken wonton soup,” noted fellow swimmer Kyle Ponsler from the United States.
“Normally I prefer Spanish food, but I have tried some Chinese cuisine here, the best one are the noodles. I will definitely try to get something from local food back home,” added Alma Pérez Parrado, a taekwondo athlete from Spain.