Athletes’ village at Paris Olympics will feature ‘world’s largest restaurant’

About 40,000 meals are expected to be served each day during the Games to the more than 15,000 athletes from 200 different countries.

PARIS, France — Freshly cooked bread, select cheeses and a broad veggie offer will be among the meals to be offered to athletes and visitors during the 2024 Paris Olympics — including, of course, gourmet dishes created by renowned French chefs.

About 40,000 meals are expected to be served each day during the Games to the more than 15,000 athletes from 200 different countries housed at the Olympic village.

Visitors, too, will be able to enjoy some specially created snacks at the different venues.

French food services company Sodexo Live!, which was selected to oversee the catering at the athletes’ village and 14 venues of the Paris Games, said it has created a total of 500 recipes, which will notably be offered at a sit-down eatery for up to 3,500 athletes at the village, meant to be the “world’s largest restaurant.”

“Of course, there will be some classics for athletes, like pasta,” said Nathalie Bellon-Szabo, global CEO of Sodexo Live! But the food will have a “very French touch.”

Athletes will also have access to “grab and go” food stands, including one dedicated exclusively to French cuisine cooked up by chefs.

Renowned French chef Amandine Chaignot, who runs a restaurant and a café-bistro in Paris, on Tuesday unveiled one of her recipes based on the iconic croissant.

“I wanted the recipe I suggested to be representative of the French terroir, but I wanted athletes to enjoy it at the same time,” she told the Associated Press. “It was quite obvious for me to make a croissant that I could twist. So, you have a bit of artichoke puree, a poached egg, a bit of truffle and a bit of cheese. It’s both vegetarian and still mouthwatering.”

Every day, during the July 26-Aug. 11 Games, a top chef — including some awarded with Michelin stars — will cook in front of the athletes at the Olympic Village, “so they’ll be able to chat and better understand what French cuisine is about — and to understand a bit of our culture as well,” Chaignot said.

Daily specials will be accompanied by a wide range of salads, pastas, grilled meat and soups. Cheeses will include top quality camembert, brie and sheep’s milk-based Ossau-Iraty from southwestern France.

The Olympic Village will also feature a boulangerie producing fresh baguettes and a variety of other breads.

“The idea is to offer athletes the chance to grab a piping hot baguette for breakfast,” said baker Tony Doré, who will be working at the Olympic Village’s main restaurant.

Athletes interested in other than sports, will even be able to participate in daily bakery trainings, and learn to make their own French baguette, said Doré.

In an effort to provide as many options as possible, meals offered will revolve around four cuisines: French, Asian, African and the Caribbean and international food.

Paris 2024 organizers have promised to make the Games more sustainable and environment-friendly — and that includes efforts to reduce the use of plastic. To this effect, the main restaurant at the village will use only reusable dishes.

Additionally, organizers say all meals will be based on seasonal products and 80% will come from France.

Plant-based food will represent 60% of the offer for visitors at the venues, including a “vegetarian hot-dog,” said Philipp Würz, head of Food and Beverage for the Paris 2024 Committee.

There’s “a huge amount of plant-based recipes that will be available for the general public to try, to experience and, hopefully, they will love it,” said Würz.

The urban park at the Place de la Concorde, in central Paris, will offer visitors 100% vegetarian food — a first in the Games’ history. The place will be the stage for Paris 2024’s most contemporary sporting disciplines: BMX freestyle, 3×3 basketball, skateboarding and breakdancing.

AP journalist Nicholas Garriga contributed to this report.

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