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OWU Executive Chef Selected to Cook at 2002 Winter Olympics

October 30, 2001

[ Steve Ishmael Photo ]DELAWARE, OHIO -- Ohio Wesleyan's Executive Chef, Steve Ishmael, received his first taste of what it will be like to be part of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, after a three-day on-site visit in late October to Olympic Village at the University of Utah. Ishmael was selected to join an elite group of individuals who will feed visiting dignitaries as well as the 4,000 athletes and team officials who are part of the Olympics. "Reality really didn't set in until I visited and actually stepped into it in Utah," says Ishmael, who is the only chef from Ohio to have been picked for this honor. He will leave on Jan. 27 for his assignment at the Olympics which runs from Feb. 8-24.

Ishmael explains that when he first heard that Compass Group, parent company of OWU's food service, Chartwells, would be the official catering supplier of the Olympic games, he told his OWU boss, Bill Tian, of a wish to be considered for the culinary coup. "I was placed on a list, and my wish came true," says Ishmael, who will work alongside chefs who come largely from the Washington D.C. and New York areas.

During his October visit, Ishmael became familiar with menu options and the intricacies of cooking for world-class athletes with very specific and regimented dietary needs. He also learned about heightened security measures that will be taken at the games, and what to do in the event of a "lock down" in the village, should threatening situations occur.

"We hope that this doesn't happen, of course, but we need to be prepared," says Ishmael, explaining that the chefs will have a three-day supply of food on hand at all times. He and his colleagues must be ready to feed (each day) the 112,000 spectators, 16,000 Olympic Village residents and 7,000 sponsors, whether crises emerge or not.

Ishmael, who has been at OWU for three years, enjoys the opportunity for creativity, and expresses that well with his unique menu designs, and of course, his excellent cooking.

"Food and dining experiences are cross cultural, allowing people of different backgrounds to share the common pleasure of eating," says Bill Tian, resident district manager of Chartwells, OWU's dining program that was recently singled out as the Regional Account of the Year. "Steve was selected for this honor because of his culinary abilities, his ability to teach and train, and his enthusiasm. His role is paramount in facilitating important cross cultural relationships."