Throwback Thursday: Salt Lake Olympics 2002

When the “Crossroads of the West” became the “Crossroads of the World”

There is a lot of buzz going on right now about the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with the Paralympics about to start. The tremendous increase in travel to Brazil, and Rio de Janeiro in particular, has had a huge impact on our catering facility there. (How much of an impact? Read our blog post about it!) However, did you know that this isn’t the first time we’ve had a catering facility in the Olympics Host City? In 2002, the Winter Olympics were hosted in Salt Lake City, Utah, often referred to as the “Crossroads of the West.”

We caught up with Lisa Schoenfeld, Operations Supervisor at LSG Sky Chefs in Salt Lake City to get her impression of what it was like to live in an Olympic Host City. Lisa joined the LSG Sky Chefs team in Salt Lake City in 1984 as employee in the cold food department and was promoted to Operations Supervisor in 1994.

What was it like to have your city host the Olympic Games?

Lots of excitement – Salt Lake City was an electric city during that time.

How did having the Olympics in your city affect your daily life?

The traffic only affected the downtown area, and I live on the west side of SLC. Also, I was working full-time, so I didn’t drive much.

How did you experience the Olympics?

I did not attend any games, nor do I know anyone who did. I don’t like sports, but I do know that my mother watched some of the sports on TV at home.

Lisa Schoenfeld recounts her experience of the Olympics in 2002
Lisa Schoenfeld recounts her experience of the Olympics in 2002

What is your favorite sport in the Olympics (winter or summer games)?

If I had to pick a sport, ice skating would be my favorite.

What is your personal favorite sport (Olympics or not)?

Honestly, I don’t really like sports – I don’t “do” sports.

What is your most memorable “Olympics moment”?

I’ve never watched an Olympic moment – I was always working.

How did the Olympics Games change your daily work at LSG?

There were quite a few demands placed on us from the European-based customers. I remember the chef from one European airline came in with his team. The chef was designated to develop meals for the Olympians traveling, and he gave us a very detailed lesson on how to cut their cheese. Actually, we also had other customers from Europe who came in – they were very particular about their food, presentation, and again, their cheese. The cheese was like nothing I had ever seen before – to us, it looked to be outdated since there was blue/green on the cheese, but he assured us it was of exceptional quality. I’ve never seen anyone so picky about how their cheese was cut and served!

We even had Olympic team doctors come in to observe the quality in our kitchen – we did well in the audit. NBC also had charters transporting their executives and reporters – very fancy people. I remember they even had their own NBC Olympics-branded glassware, plates, etc.

If you could give advice to our colleagues at the CSC in Rio about working during the Olympics, what would you tell them?

Be prepared to come in at midnight – there’s a lot of work, which requires longer (and earlier) hours. This time requires a lot of patience since customers during this time tend to be tense and anxious – it’s much like getting ready for a new airline. There are lots of new customer demands and requests that you’ve never received before. Normally, we don’t cater any charters, but during the Olympics, we had 2 charters flights per day.

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