Daily World Choir Games lunch plan: Serve 5,000 people in three hours

CINCINNATI - Imagine having 5,000 of your closest friends over for lunch and you have to feed them within a three-hour window.

That's the daily lunch challenge for Purvill Chaney, Executive Chef for Ovations Food Services at the Duke Energy Center.

Chaney supervises a staff of 100 people to make sure everyone involved with the World Choir Games gets a nutritious and healthy meal.

That's quite a feat, since there are 362 choirs from 48 different nation performing.

"Every meal period is a challenge, but it's a welcome challenge," he said Friday.  "My passion is food.  What excites us is sharing that passion with different people."

Ovation began planning for the Cincinnati games two years ago, when Sales and Catering Director Maggie Wheeler attended the 2010 World Choir Games in Graz, Austria.

She asked participants what they'd like to see during meals in the Queen City.  The answer was fruits and vegetables.  Both are a vital part of the daily menus.

When the food has been prepared, Chaney likes to walk through the rows of tables in Exhibit Hall A, talk with people and get their opinion on what they're eating.

So far, it's thumbs up.

"I think it's just awesome menus," he said proudly.  "We're touching on everything from fish to beef.  We're doing vegetarian, vegan, Kosher and much more."

Youngsters from Iuventus Gaude of the Czech Republic dined Friday on rice, salad and pot roast.

Katherine Stuchlykova said she wished it had been her favorite food — pizza — but found it to her liking.

"It's not as good as from mom, but it was good," she said.  "It is better than I was thinking."

It was also better than her usual mid-day meal.

"On a normal day, I will have a school lunch, so it will be something really ugly," she laughed.

A short time later, members of the Young People's Choir of Erie, Pa., sat down to similar fare and pronounced it very good as well.

"It reminded me of home," said Emily Johnson.  "It just made me feel like I was back at home sitting with my family."

Briana Westbrook said it reminded her of what her mother makes, but took it one step further.  

"I like everything equally, but the desserts were awesome," she said.  

That was the kind of feedback Chaney cherished.

"I would love for them to be able to go home and tell their friends and family how they enjoyed what we do here," he said.  "That would make my day right there."


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