Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jetcetera: Jets fuelled by passion, and great food

Chef provides them with nutritious meals

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The Winnipeg Jets' marketing slogan -- Fuelled by Passion -- is a white lie. Sure, the community is passionate about its reborn NHL hockey team, but the players are actually fuelled by chicken, salmon, steak, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, broccoli and asparagus.

And a variety of other scrumptious -- and energy-producing -- menu items that Chef Roger Wilton from Centerplate and his team prepare for the team every game day.

It starts with porridge before the morning skate, then a healthy lunch of vegetables, fish and chicken, a mid-afternoon snack of nuts, fruits and eggs and finally a late-afternoon buffet that includes steak, chicken, salmon, whole wheat pasta and some very specific vegetables.

"All the vegetables are green on game day -- no carrots, no corn," Wilton said. "It's an array that covers everybody's needs on game days."

The Jets' spread also includes a full salad bar, some organic items and gluten-free bread.

At the beginning of the season, the team's chef meets with trainers and nutritionists to come up with a menu. The rules are simple -- no fried foods, no butter, no oils (except for olive oil) and everything is baked.

Wilton said Andrew Ladd is a frequent provider of feedback and the captain is also the reason why the Jets import coconut water from Chicago for the players to drink.

Defencemen Zach Bogosian and Grant Clitsome are big fans of the meal preparation, too.

"It's awesome," Clitsome said. "When I played in Columbus, we didn't have that at home. Guys just went out on their own, I think that's the case for a lot of teams.

"To be able to come to the rink and have your routine, take your time and have a meal makes things a lot easier."

Clitsome's usual pregame spread is a plate of salad, a lot of vegetables, rice, chicken with rosée sauce and coconut water.

Bogosian said professional athletes need to take care of their bodies and having professional chefs feed them takes the guesswork out of it.

His pregame meal is usually chicken noodle soup, spaghetti with meat sauce and alfredo sauce and a piece of chicken with hot sauce on it.

He admits that the soft hands he often displays on the ice are nowhere to be found in the kitchen.

"If we didn't have our meals, I'd probably be eating grilled cheese sandwiches or some Easy Mac. As a young guy who's not a very good cook, I take full advantage of what we have at the rink," he said.

There's even a postgame meal that can often include -- gasp! -- the occasional piece of pizza and ice cream.

"Sometimes we get our hands slapped a little bit," the chef admitted with a laugh. "The players will ask, 'Can you make sure we get some meatballs tonight?' "

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 28, 2013 A2

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