Tuesday, Feb. 8th:
🍰 Let’s talk food! It’s always one of the big questions people ask about when I cover the Olympics and obviously my answer changes depending on the host country and accommodations.
On this trip we’re staying in a pretty nice hotel with a free, buffet breakfast. Unlike Tokyo where we got tired of the hotel breakfast buffet on day two, this one is fairly legit with custom omelettes, lots of fruit (I like the dragon fruit) and baked goods.
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I try to hit up the lobby buffet in the morning, but sometimes I just make coffee in my room and eat a protein bar to save time. Our hotel as two restaurants for lunch and dinner which are not free, but I’m not typically at the hotel during lunch or dinner hours, so it doesn’t really impact me.
Thankfully NBC has a big presence at the Olympics and we have our own cafeteria (most people call it the commissary) serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is a huge operation and the food is really good. As someone who isn’t afraid of going back for seconds, the commissary is one of my favorite parts of every Olympics. Since we don’t have much to do here in Beijing given the quarantine bubble, I’m doing my part to make sure the food doesn’t go to waste.
The menu switches daily with steak, chicken, salmon, pork and other hot entrees as well as lots of sides. There are also constants like fries, pizza, burgers and paninis which I’m trying to avoid.
There is a salad, fruit and soup bar. I’m a sucker for the desserts though. I mean they’re just sitting there waiting for me. The commissary also has a row of coolers with drinks and two Starbucks coffee machines.
You can take your masks off when you’re sitting and eating (obviously) but it’s still hard to have a conversation with any colleagues because the tables are all divided with plexiglass. You have to talk loud or repeat yourself a lot.
The food operation is one of the major logistical challenges for NBC which hires a San Diego based company, Behind The Scenes Catering, to run the show. I’ve done several stories with owner John Crisafulli over the years, but he is already back in San Diego. He actually tested positive for COVID-19, although he didn’t have any symptoms on his second day in the country and had to spend 17 days in a COVID- quarantine motel! A story for another time. There aren’t nearly as many people to feed at these games. I’ve heard about 650 NBC employees are here. During the Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro back in 2016 NBC had about 3,500 people working the games. There were fewer in Tokyo last August because of the pandemic, but there were still thousands. The Winter Olympics always have fewer people, but this is a lean operation for sure.
The other option for food at the International Broadcast Center is in the main media dining hall which is where all of the other journalists from around the world eat. You have to pay for the food here, so I haven’t used it yet. This dining hall is unique from other Olympics however because it uses robots to make and deliver the food. That’s right robots. There is a robot bartender, robot cooks, and robot cleaners. In one area your food gets dropped down from the ceiling to your table. It’s a wild scene straight out of the future and worth the trip to “robot watch.” I’d spend more time there, but I think the NBC commissary just put out more desserts.
Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics
Watch all the action from the Beijing Olympics live on NBC
NBC 7's Steven Luke is in Beijing, China to bring us the latest updates from the 2022 Winter Olympics. Click here to follow his journey, day-by-day