Inside a rental residence in Latvia with a gaggle of individuals he’d solely met two months earlier, chef Jade Berg might not maintain again his feelings.
It was the ultimate cease of a journey with the Canadian luge staff that had taken him from B.C. to Utah and eventually japanese Europe, and the athletes handed him a thank-you card and a signed bib as a token of their appreciation.
“I used to be blubbering somewhat bit, attempting to combat again tears like, ‘Oh, come on guys.’ And that was an actual massive shock for me, the connection that we made collectively as a gaggle and to simply really feel like I’m a part of a staff,” Berg stated.
Berg, who was born in Saskatchewan, grew up in High River, Alta., and at the moment resides in Campbell River, B.C., was employed within the fall by Luge Canada to function a non-public chef on the highway.
Luge Canada is not the primary affiliation to rent a non-public chef — if something, you can query what’s taken so lengthy. But it is a step in the proper path for a staff searching for its first Olympic podium look since 2018 and first-ever gold medal.
Berg, in the meantime, had by no means labored with athletes beforehand. He calls himself a forager and out of doors chef and he usually offers non-public companies for wealthier shoppers.
“I had nearly extra intimidation going into this with [the luge athletes] than I’d going out onto a millionaire’s yacht,” Berg stated. “For no matter motive, I’ve them on this pedestal in my thoughts like, ‘Oh they’re like these high-performance athletes. Is my meals gonna be ok?'”
Berg, now 32, moved to B.C. at 18 with a wholesome serving of resumés, a heaping dose of his dad and mom’ apprehension and a definite lack of money. He slept on park benches for a pair nights earlier than connecting with an aunt who lent a sofa.
Before lengthy, Berg secured three jobs — two at eating places and one at Tip Top Tailors. He slowly labored his manner up within the culinary world till forming Wild Isle Cooking, his non-public cooking firm.
The enterprise hummed alongside till a again harm throughout the pandemic meant a sudden cease and a profession transfer from the kitchen to the entrance seat of a tractor trailer. But Berg’s ardour for the outside and meals was reignited when he was invited to hitch the present Chefs vs. Wild, which premieres in Canada on Jan. 25 on Disney Plus.
Through press for the present, Berg reconnected with a high-school acquaintance who’d seen Luge Canada’s job posting for a non-public chef and thought it was the right match.
“Somebody that’s prepared to place monetary success to the facet to pursue ardour is anyone that I actually establish with and actually join with,” Berg stated. “So if I can assist them whereas they’re chasing their ardour, it type of provides me one thing that feeds my soul and offers me far more out of it than simply cooking a meal.”
Berg cast a fast reference to Canada’s luge athletes whereas working as their non-public chef. (Brooke Apshkrum)
Carolyn Maxwell, a Canadian luge athlete who has competed on the senior circuit since 2018, stated Berg made a right away distinction.
“With Jade it was quite a bit higher as a result of we might type of inform him what we wanted. He was actually good at ensuring we had snacks all through the day and that we at all times had what we wanted nutritionally to get by way of the day,” she stated.
Maxwell stated she and the remainder of the staff had been beforehand restricted to the lodge choices at totally different stops world wide. She stated they’d be fortunate to have the selection of a buffet meal versus no matter was handed to them on a plate.
The hope now’s that the staff is best ready for the world championships, which start Friday in Oberhof, Germany. Live streaming will probably be accessible on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem starting at 7:26 a.m. ET.
Berg will not be current because the staff could not discover the correct lodging.
Commitment to feeding athletes
But you possibly can guess he’ll be watching from afar, as he determined from Day 1 that he did not wish to be the private chef that hid within the kitchen — as a substitute, he wished to be a part of the staff.
And so at each meet and each coaching session, there he’d be ready on the end line with nourishment, usually within the type of date bars.
“I wasn’t going into meals simply ravenous as a result of I actually hadn’t eaten all day,” Maxwell stated.
As a end result, she was in a position to higher management each the standard and amount of what she put in her physique throughout the gruelling World Cup season.
Maxwell stated her favorite meal from Berg was ginger beef since it’s pure consolation meals. But though she’s a self-proclaimed choosy eater, she additionally loved the meat coronary heart curry Berg ready in Latvia.
Berg pours butter over a seafood chowder. (Brooke Apshkrum)
As Berg’s preliminary intimidation blossomed into friendship, he shortly discovered simply how unglamorous life as a high-performance athlete may be, regardless of his prior false impression to the alternative.
Now, he is dedicated to creating nutritious meals simpler to entry for athletes.
“Whether it is possibly some beef farmers that I’ve labored with or fishermen or no matter it’s, attempting to get some type of a meals program collectively for these athletes has been like tremendous excessive on my record,” he stated.
“Then I do some distant cooking courses to indicate them how we will make the most of this, how we will get that very same vitamin and take somewhat little bit of a burden off of their plate — pun meant.”
He’s already trying ahead to being again with the lugers subsequent season.
“I could not see anything.”