Day One in Germany
After flying directly from Cincinnati to Frankfurt overnight (with only a few uncomfortable hours for most of the team, and no sleep for other members), we were able to get (quickly!) through customs and security to retrieve our bags and pick up our rental car. Because of confusing one-way roads in the rental car garage, getting out of the airport took longer than it should have and cost a little bit of money (1.50 Euros). But all is well and weâ€™re now in possession of a 9-passenger diesel van, which we loaded with all of our equipment and luggage and began the long trek (230 kilometers through lots of construction zones) from Frankfurt to Gotha, a small town about 20 minutes away from Erfurt which is to be our home while weâ€™re competing. We stopped for lunch in an unknown little town â€“ basically, what the GPS said was close when we decided we were hungry â€“ and had a nice Italian meal of pasta (including a dish that Brian couldnâ€™t eat because of dietary issues but turned out to be one of the best on the table, drizzled with truffle oil and dressed with shaved truffles), capresi salad, soups, and bread before heading on. I was tired from the trip but Brian helped keep me awake & alert during the long drive.
When they participated in the International Culinary Olympics in 2000 (at which the team took a silver medal), Chefs Potter and Neace stayed in the Quality Inn in Gotha and really built a kinship with Chef Thomas Zajaczkowski, who warmly welcomed us when we arrived today. Not at all deterred by the lack of a common language (weâ€™re English-speakers with a tiny smidge of German; Chef Thomas speaks very little English), the team reacquainted and presented gifts that we brought over from the USA for Chef Thomas and his crew. Chef, typically understated, mostly smiled (a lot) as he and his crew accepted the gifts.
We got checked in and situated in our small, comfortable hotel rooms before moving to the preparation area reserved for us by Chef Thomas. There are a few other teams using the hotel as their home base, so space is at a premium. Weâ€™ve got a really nice area in which to work, and they let us use their main kitchen as well. Unpacking and examining our materials, we were pleased to note that everything seems to have made the trip without damage.
Afterward, we asked Katja Haja, the front desk manager at the hotel, for a recommendation for a good German restaurant nearby where we could have our first dinner in Germany. She recommended a place close-by and we programmed the destination into our rental vanâ€™s GPS and took off on the short trip. We never found the restaurant but ended up, after a few conversations with locals, in a very nice Italian restaurant called Bocelli. The five of us had a cozy table in one corner of the dining room where we enjoyed the food very much. We met a local, Mattias, at the next table who was very interested in our Culinary Olympic story.
We walked back to the car and made the short trip back to the hotel for a quick team meeting to discuss plans for the next day â€“ Brian and I have several errands to run and a few elusive last-minute items to pick up. We also wrote this blog article.
Afterward, it was time for bed, for much-needed rest before the acceleration begins tomorrow! Alan Neace competes on Monday and Greg Skibinski competes on Wednesday.
Stay tuned to this website for frequent updates!