Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
By Margie Wuebker
New Bremen native helped fuel Olympians
Kelly Kamin worked with catering company feeding athletes in Beijing, China
Former New Bremen resident Kelly Kamin believes nutritious food helped fuel American athletes to gold, silver and bronze medals at the Beijing Olympics this past summer, and she is proud to have played a part in the team effort.
Kamin, a recent graduate of Sullivan University in Louisville, Ky., was selected to work with the Frambiouse Catering Co. of Staten Island, N.Y. The initial nomination came from Chef Kimberly Jones, a catering professor at Sullivan, but Kamin had to pass a rigorous interview process with members of the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The field of 175 nominees was cut to 22 early this year with Kamin and the others scrambling to obtain passports and make other arrangements. A beautiful Chinese restaurant in the heart of Beijing became kitchen central as the staff prepared to feed Olympians staying at the USA High Performance Center.
The culinary staff prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner for 300 athletes, trainers and coaches on the busiest days with assistance from the restaurant's managers, head chef and sous chef. Given their rigorous training schedule, some competitors had no time to relax in the dining room equipped with five flat-screen televisions. Instead, they relied on boxed lunches.
"I was anxious to see Michael Phelps," 22-year-old Kamin says of the American swimming star who earned eight gold medals and sometimes darted in and out of the dining room wearing a swim cap. "However, the swimmers all look alike with their caps in place."
The U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., provided all the recipes to ensure none of the athletes experienced side effects from new dishes.
"The recipes specified little salt and no butter whatsoever in baked goods," Kamin said. "It might sound strange but the baked goods actually tasted better without butter."
Staff members had an opportunity to see the Beijing area on their days off, frequently teaming up with Olympians who welcomed fellow Americans with open arms. Weather conditions determined their destination with outings to the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square on nice days. Inclement weather provided opportunities to experience busy markets specializing in pearls and silk or the Night Market with its scorpions, snakes and starfish.
Kamin, the daughter of New Bremen residents Frank and Diane Kamin, chuckles recalling how some Olympic visitors went all starry-eyed over some of the athletes like world champion runner Tyson Gay. She remembers spending nearly an hour talking with an American boxer and having no idea if he was in contention for a gold medal.
"They are just normal people in a faraway land where little if any English is spoken," she adds. "It's like encountering a little bit of home and we quickly formed friendships."
Kamin, who recently earned degrees in professional catering and culinary arts, currently works at the famed Brown Hotel in Louisville while looking into various options like a resort in Key West and a western resort in Montana. Chicago also ranks high on her list of places to work.
The 2005 New Bremen High School graduate currently does a little bit of everything at the hotel from helping with three weddings - each with 250 guests - in the span of a day to overseeing details related to the prestigious Ryder Cup tournament that draws golfers from throughout the world.
"My dream position is being an event planner or a food and beverage director," she says. "However, I am ready, willing and able to go wherever the road leads."
Who knows what's cooking in terms of her next assignment.
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