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Published: Tuesday, 8/8/2000

Toledoan faces Olympic-sized task in Sydney

Toledoan Jaime Griffith is bound for the Olympics. The Aramark Corporation chef who is based at Toledo's General Motors Powertrain plant will travel to Sydney, Australia, as one of 20 chefs to participate in Aramark's Seventh Annual International Guest Chef Series.

Chosen as the official catering service provider for the 12th time since 1968, Aramark's top 20 chefs from around the world will serve meals to more than 28,000 Olympic athletes, coaches, officials, and media at the Summer Olympic Games.

Mr. Griffith, who will return early in November, expects the team of chefs to feed 5,000 people per hour and 50,000 per day.

As a chef d' parte, he is under the sous chef as he heads a team of working chefs. For the "World Menu Down Under," they will use 600 international recipes that have been developed for the array of cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds of the Olympic athletes.

Each of the chefs was asked to share several recipes. The 1985 graduate of Central Catholic High School considers FrenchCanadian cuisine his specialty. "My mom is French-Canadian," he said.

So, he selected his recipes for beef and chicken Wellington and French meat pies, called tortiere. "Tortiere always has ground pork, potatoes, and mirapoix for flavor," said Mr. Griffith. (Mirapoix is a mixture of diced carrots, onions, celery, and herbs sauteed in butter.)

"The recipe has a homemade pie shell and you put barley in the bottom to absorb some of the juice. Sometimes tortiere is made with wild game, ground hamburger or stew, or chicken. But you always use ground pork."

For the beef Wellington, which is puff pastry enveloping a 5-ounce beef tenderloin, the chef prepares a duxelle. "I add a different touch of [marsala] wine, a little celery, and some parmesan cheese," said the graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and Owens Technical College. "It goes over very well."

Athletes will have the opportunity to enjoy Australian cuisine, which is described as the fusion of many cultures and fresh produce. Australian barbecue, Asian wok food, and an abundance of Australia's freshest seafood will be included. A fusion Asian wok concept "Sydney" style includes wok-fried vegetables, noodle dishes, and regional specialty dishes.

At 33 and single, the chef is eager for this culinary adventure. He expects to work 12 to 14-hour days, but will have one day a week off. On those days, "I plan to sight-see," he said. "I like to explore the city, museums, restaurants, and pubs. I have been told that Australia is a cross between the U.S. and Britain and that pub food is a big thing."

During his hiatus in Australia, Chef Griffith will be missed as assistant manager of the Powertrain food service. "People are used to the food Jaime does," said Harvey Eagleston, manager of vending and cafeteria. "We'll miss him greatly. He has definitely enhanced our business."

"Factory feeding is difficult," he said. "It is mass feeding, cafeteria-style." As such, the food sets on the cafeteria line so it is ready whenever workers come into the room. With catering, the food goes right to the customer."

To personalize the service, "We cook food in front of the customer with an omelet station and a fajita station," said Mr. Eagleston. "So that's on hold until he returns in November."

Mr. Griffith has been employed by several northwest Ohio clubs and restaurants, Clipper Cruise Lines, and he was sous chef at Brandywine Country Club in Maumee. He is a member of the Maumee Valley Chef Association.



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