Aside from intense training and dedication, there is one other thing you need to be an Olympic athlete: fuel. Lots of it. For an example, see Michael Phelps' 12,000-calorie-a-day diet, which made headlines in 2008. While not every athlete subscribes to the Phelps fueling plan, there is still going to be a lot of eating happening in the Olympic Village once the Games kick off this Friday. Lucas Dantas, who works in the communications department for the Rio Olympics, tells Refinery29 that when the Olympic Village kitchen reaches peak demand, it will feed a whopping 18,000 people. They won't all eat at the same time, of course, Dantas notes, due to varying training and competition schedules. So the restaurant will be open 24 hours a day to accommodate all of the athletes.
"For the day with the biggest demand, between 60,000 and 70,000 meals will be served," Dantas says. To create those meals, the kitchen will use 460,000 pounds of raw ingredients each day, the Associated Press reported earlier this year.
At the Olympic Village kitchen, athletes will get to enjoy 40 varieties of exotic fruits from Brazil, including açaí, carambola, and maracuja, AP notes. The buffets will include Brazilian, Asian, International, pasta and pizza, and halal and kosher offerings. To make sure everything is just right, the Olympic kitchen staff are holding roughly 20 food testings before the Olympics begin, according to AP.
The athletes' dining room is larger than two football fields, and the kitchen is roughly the size of one football field. About 20 chefs are behind the diverse menu. The international offerings are meant to help athletes from various countries feel more at home in Rio. One food available at the restaurant, for example, is Korean kimchee, made with fermented cabbage and other vegetables. The kitchen will also offer things like rice and miso soup, as well as nattō (fermented soybeans), for athletes interested in Japanese food. Competitors with food allergies or restrictions don't have to worry, either. The Olympic spread includes a halal kitchen, as well as an "exclusive island" for halal foods, Dantas says. Kosher items are available, too, but the demand is lower for kosher foods, so athletes can ask for kosher items at each specific island, rather than having one area of the restaurant devoted to kosher offerings, Dantas explained.
And if you're wondering what happens to the surplus from those hundreds of thousands of pounds of food, there's a plan for that, too. Celebrity chefs Massimo Bottura and David Hertz plan to use the food waste from the Olympic kitchen to create meals for the needy in Rio's Lapa neighborhood, CityLab reports. They estimate that there will be enough food waste to create 100 free dinners each night during the Olympics, and they plan to start gathering the food waste on August 9.