June 15, 2007

Main Dish tackles Stampeders’ training camp

By Shelley Boettcher,
Calgary Herald

Call The Main Dish the little caterer that could.

Someone knew someone who had eaten there. Then someone else said they liked the food. And still another person raved about it.

That’s all it took for this small Bridgeland restaurant and catering company to land an 18-day deal to cook lunch and dinner every day for the Calgary Stampeders training camp (about 95 people including players and employees).

Not bad for a business that only celebrated its one-year anniversary on May 26.

A few days after that, The Main Dish staff kicked into high gear, planning and preparing hundreds of pounds of food for the football team.

On Wednesday, for instance, the lunch menu included 22.5 kg (50 lb) of roast beef, 18 kg (40 lb) of mashed potatoes, 18 kg (40 lb) of fruit, nine kg (20 lb) of homemade creamed corn, gravy, five trays of lasagna, plus a green salad and a pasta salad, garlic bread and three desserts — carrot cake, brownies and apple crisp.

“It’s about 300 pounds of food, twice a day, every day,” says executive chef and co-owner Kevin Pelissier.

Partner and chef Kevin Outhet and his assistant, Peter Truong, have handled most of the Stamps cooking; they start each day around 5:30-6 a.m. and work, well, till dinner’s done and the next day’s meal has been started.

The most popular dish so far?

They served about 80 guys 100 racks of ribs — plus assorted side dishes, salads and desserts.

“None (of the ribs) were left over and they’re still asking for them,” says Pelissier.

“What do you do if you run out of food for a 300-pound guy? Tell him you’ve run out of food? I don’t think so.

“I’m scared to think what will happen if we don’t make them again.”

All jokes aside, The Main Dish founder Jason Zaran says the contract is a thrill for him, both because he used to play football as a kid and because he’s a Stampeders fan.

They like his company’s food, and he likes them.

“I’ve always been a bit of a sports nut. I’m a real football guy and I grew up watching the Stamps,” he says.

“I don’t know if it’s made me a bigger football fan, but it’s given me a greater appreciation for their commitment level and what these guys go through. . . .

“You get a real appreciation of the hard work and the passion these guys have for their game.”

And their appetite.

Although The Main Dish was the official game-day caterer for the Calgary Roughnecks lacrosse team, Pelissier says the experience wasn’t quite the same.

“We thought the Roughnecks did some damage to food,” he says.

“But these guys far exceed them.”