How to Feed 1,800 Young Athletes

How to Feed 1,800 Young Athletes

Preparing for the Maccabi Games means working countless hours to ensure healthy, yet tasty meals in large quantities for the athletes.

Photos by Chloe Levitas // Added Touch Catering team at the Marcus JCC.
Photos by Chloe Levitas // Added Touch Catering team at the Marcus JCC.

Preparing for the Maccabi Games means working countless hours to ensure healthy, yet tasty meals in large quantities for the athletes.

“We ordered over 1,200 pounds of chicken, 300 pounds of lettuce, and 560 pounds of ground beef just for one event,” said Emily McConnell, head chef for Added Touch Catering.

“The reason we have quantiles like this is because we have to feed 1,800 athletes,” said Erin Lis, Added Touch’s director of sales and marketing.

Added Touch Catering, run by Sandra and Clive Bank for two decades, is preparing the menu for the 2019 JCC Maccabi Games. The catering service will provide lunches for the coaches and athletes, along with a coaches’ dinner on Sunday night after the opening ceremonies. And Monday night of the games they will provide dinner in Peachtree Corners. “We have planned the menus for months and decided to come up with the most exciting foods that kids would love,” said Clive Bank, owner and second-in-command. The catering team plans to alternate between kid-friendly dairy meals and meat meals.

Because there will be so much food at the games, Added Touch decided to make meals that will stay fresh and hold well and not dry out even after they have been reheated. “The chicken, for instance, I would normally do chicken strips or fajitas, but instead, we are doing a beautiful, juicy, braised chicken so it will reheat beautifully,” McConnell said.

Chefs Clive Smith, Emily McConnell and Miguel Nunez.

“The logistics were crazy. We had to rent refrigerated trailers that we are keeping in each location, Marist [School] and MJCCA, because half the kids are split in either direction. We are not heating everything up at one time, we have the meals rotating from the fridge to the oven on to the buffet.”

Added Touch differs from other catering companies because it does not make the food ahead of time and reheat it on site. “We are all about prepping things in advance and finishing them off in the oven to make it like your mom just brought it out,” Lis said.

“For instance, we will grill mark the burgers and they are still raw in the center, but it looks like it’s been cooked on the outside and put them in the oven to finish it. They are still juicy and awesome like it was just cooked, but we can cook 300 burgers at one time in the oven that look and taste like they’ve been on the grill because they have,” McConnell said.

Feeding 1,800 is no walk in the park and there are many different dietary restrictions that Added Touch has to accommodate. “Each food item will have menu cards and every menu item will have a list of the top seven allergens that are contained in that menu item. The whole facility is peanut-free, and we use latex gloves for the entire event,” McConnell said.

“We also have a separate food-sensitives buffet and we will be accommodating for those who are vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free. For example, on the taco night we will have tofu tacos on the food-sensitives buffet, that way we can accommodate for lots of different people, but not be too crazy.”

Not only does Added Touch Catering have to worry about food allergies and different dietary restrictions, they have to get all of their food products approved by the Atlanta Kosher Commission.

Head chef Emily McConnell prepares food for the Maccabi Games.

“Sourcing all the ingredients to the AKC standards has been a huge challenge for us, pre-planning to make sure we have everything AKC approved,” Bank said. “It has been difficult … because trying to wash 900 pounds of lettuce, the feasibility of that is impossible. So now we are sourcing pre-chopped and pre-washed, AKC-approved lettuce, which is very complicated because the AKC in Atlanta won’t take a farm that is AKC-approved in Taylor Farms in California, but they will approve the Taylor Farms in Tennessee. It is the same brand, but just different locations,” McConnell said.

“As far as the kosher aspect goes, there is a serious science behind it where AKC knows certain farms and fields have larger infestation of bugs or use pesticides, so produce must be thoroughly washed, and we have had the produce pre-washed to accommodate to this volume,” Lis said.

Luckily, Added Touch Catering will be preparing the food at the MJCCA and will have a dairy kitchen and a meat kitchen as well. They will also have mashgiachs who will supervise the kashrut.

At the MJCCA, the athletes will be able to eat in the Brill Family activity room and on Main Street, and at Marist, they will be able to eat in the cafeteria and outside. “We will be going to Marist’s kitchen to clean it and to make it kosher,” Lis said. “Parents and spectators are not included in the meals during lunch, but we have A Healthy Touch Café at the MJCCA that they can get food at,” Lis said.

“One of the things with the company is that, in Atlanta, there are a lot of Jews here,” Bank said. “There are very few catering companies that have the ability to pull off something like this.”

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