“They were busy days, but mostly just enjoyable,” Haugen said of her time spent preparing food in Vancouver. As the team’s chef, Haugen makes breakfast, lunch, and dinner for about 30 hungry biathlon athletes and their support team — not only for a few weeks of competition, but up to 250 days a year.
Haugen has been a chef for the athletes since 1994, and this was her second Olympic Games. She has travelled around the world with the athletes and with her delicious food and good mood she has become a highly valued member of the team. The athletes call her tante kokk, which is Norwegian for “auntie chef.”
Auntie chef also manages her own restaurant in Sirdal, Norway, where she lives. She has written a cook book called, “Mat midt i blinken,” which means, “Food just right.” It consists of recipes of dishes she serves for Norway’s Olympic athletes.
The Norwegian biathletes have a strong diet to keep them energized during competition. It was designed by nutritionists from Olympiatoppen, an organization with an operational responsibility to develop Norwegian elite sports, but Haugen feels that it is important that athletes choose their own food. She employs nutritionists’ advice when composing her homemade Norwegian fare. The results are tasty dishes that the top-level biathlon athletes really enjoy. “The athletes travel a lot, so when they have the chance they want to eat Norwegian food. For lunch they usually want me to make them porridge, a typically Norwegian dish, which is good because it contains a lot of carbohydrates,” the Olympic chef explained.
Even though Haugen cooks Norwegian dishes she usually does not bring food from Norway when she cooks abroad, except for Norwegian goat cheese. She feels it is important to cook with ingredients the country she is visiting provides. “Canada has wonderful ingredients! The athletes wanted me to make them home made jam the other day and with the frozen berries I got here in Vancouver, it tasted very good.”
It’s important that the athletes consume as many carbohydrates as possible, so they eat a lot of pasta and bread. For lunch, Thorbjørg also serves them salmon and scrambled eggs and typical cold cuts to spread on Norwegian sandwiches.
Norwegian meatballs are popular for dinner. The athletes also enjoy a casserole that Haugen invented. When it comes to sweets, the athletes eat what they want and the chef sometimes makes them rosinboller, or sweet buns with raisins. She has to roll about 130 to 140 buns. “The athletes eat a lot when they exercise during practice,” she said.
(serves two people)
2 ounces of sliced salami (May be substituted with bacon)
1 handful pasta
1 plum tomato
2 ounces of arugula
10 sugar peas
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper
1. Cut the salami into shreds and fry until crispy.
2. Boil the pasta and rinse under cold water.
3. Cut the plum tomato in pieces.
4. Mince the avocado into small pieces.
5. Arrange all the ingredients on a platter.
6. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and pour over the salad.
7. Sprinkle the salami over the salad.
Bjørndalen Salad. Photo: Thorbjørg Haugen