If you follow the adage that you are what you eat, introducing your taste buds to the culinary wonders of David Speight is a must.
As executive chef for the Vancouver Canucks, Speight is in charge of every smidgen of food served at GM Place, a responsibility he takes to heart, especially when it comes to feeding the players.
The Canucks sport an impressive 35-15-5 regular season record when their bellies are filled by this Red Seal Certified Chef, who has been with the Canucks for the past 18 months and recently attended the Culinary Institute of America to become a Certified Chef de Cuisine.
A lot goes into the work Speight and his staff of 120 do and he recently gave us a taste of six things you should know about the culinary arts and working for the Canucks.
GET IT WHILE IT'S HOT
“Basically every piece of food in GM Place, at some point, should go through me. I’m in charge of all things culinary in the entire building, including the Best Buy Club, Wiser's Centre Ice Grill, all 82 luxury suites, Captain’s Room, Nortel Champions Club, The River Rock Club and all the concession stands, as well as catering for the executives, the spouses and of course the players. On game days, for example, we feed them breakfast, a pre-game meal and a post-game meal, which is handled by my catering sous chef Brad Vigue. They haven’t taken any of us on the road yet, but they took our banana bread in the playoffs last year to give them a little touch of home. That worked well for the St. Louis series, not so much for the Chicago series.”
WHAT'S ON THE MENU?
“We deal with Roger Takahashi, Canucks strength and conditioning coach, on the food side of things as far as what the players can and can’t eat. For the most part it’s a lot of whole grains and organic food wherever possible, as well as post-game high-carbs and all that kind of stuff. We also have specific player needs as well. Some guys we need to put weight on, a guy like Mason Raymond just can’t keep weight on, so we bulk him up as best we can, other guys we need to keep weight off of them.”
WELLWOOD DIET GETS IT DONE
“We saw it and the whole city of Vancouver saw it with the whole Wellwood situation last season. Wellwood was only on the Wellwood diet for a short period of time, Shane O’Brien was on it all last year and this year, Hordichuk was on it initially as well, so players go on and off it depending on their needs. That’s separate from what the whole team gets, we do three takeaway meals for these guys and that takes the guesswork out of it for them because we keep it in the dietary needs that those players require.”
TENDERLOIN = TENDER TOPIC
“They don’t know what they’re going to get for post-game meal so the result of the game is in no way tied to what they eat afterwards, but for some reason every time we cooked them beef tenderloin last January, they lost. Brad and I came together and decided that was it, no more beef tenderloin, we’ll give them pork tenderloin or free-range chicken breast, and then they were winning every time. That’s gone away now, they can have beef tenderloin and still win, but that run last year was incredible. It didn’t make any sense.”
(editor's note: although the record books do not indicate the reason for the Canucks going winless in eight straight home games last January, we now know it was the beef tenderloin. Please adjust your memories accordingly)
NO MORE MINI-BURGERS LUI!
“Brad and I got in trouble a little bit last year and it’s Roberto Luongo’s fault. He got injured last year and he was out for a while and that was when the new lounge was redone so he’d watch the game there with the other injured or scratched players. One game Roberto decided that during the second intermission he wanted some mini-burgers brought down and this is the captain, you don’t say no to Roberto, so we did it. But then that turned into all the other guys wanting stuff and we were so excited to be helping out that we started taking à la carte orders for the guys that weren’t playing. Roger found out about that and he told us we had to end it.”
SWEDISH DAY IS ON THE WAY
“This year and last year we had a game on American Thanksgiving so we did a big turkey dinner and all that stuff, then Mikael Samuelsson asked when Swedish day was. So we’re going to introduce Swedish day on December 16th, I’m not quite sure how we’re going to handle that, but it’ll be fun. We try to keep it as real as possible for the guys and add that personal service. We’re going to go to a Swedish bakery and buy a bunch of stuff because they’re the experts and I can’t give them crappy Swedish food. We’ll put some Swedish stickers and flags around and make the boys feel at home.”