Cooking class a recipe for success

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Most of the players attending Pittsburgh Penguins Development Camp are in college, fresh out of college, or have grown used to living the billet family life in juniors. They might be talented as all-get-out on the ice, but cooking is not even close to being in their wheelhouse.

“A lot of runs to Chipotle,” Jake Guentzel said of his cuisine when he joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton late last season. “Chipotle, for sure.”

There has been more and more emphasis in recent years on the food athletes use to fuel their performance. While a protein-loaded stomach anchor at Chipotle might get the thumbs up every now and then, professional hockey players that are on the ice every day and playing games three times a week require something that doesn’t come served over a counter wrapped in tin foil.

That’s why for several years in a row now, Pittsburgh has had its future stars attend a cooking seminar so that they can learn how to prepare quick, easy meals that also match the diet of a pro athlete.

“Nutrition is really important is you’re going to be a serious athlete,” said new Penguin Michael Webster. “It’s great to learn new things from the pros. Obviously, they’re at the highest level, so they’ll probably have the best advice for you.”

blog_cook2Lunch on Thursday at development camp consisted of grilled chicken breast, escolar (fish), vegetable medley, a kale, quinoa and red onion salad, and for a little extra flavor, players tossed whopping additions of guacamole/mango salsa onto their plates. After the mean, the Lemieux Complex’s executive chef, Geoff Staub, gave the players a up-close demonstration of how to prepare the meal they had just eaten.

Staub covered all the bases. No player will walk away from camp wondering at what temperature to bake a chicken breast, what parts of a kale plant to avoid, what is the proper cutlery to invest in,  and (most importantly) how to avoid poisoning oneself.

Group A had their session with Staub on Thursday, and Guentzel’s Group B stepped in front of the stove top today. Perhaps the rookie will retain a thing or two, so that he doesn’t have to resort back to his old college habits at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

“Thursday night, me and my roommates would make pasta,” Guentzel said. “That was about all we were good at! Pasta, noodles, yup. That was pretty much it.”

blog_cook3Webster, who says he has much more chef experience than Spaghetti Guentzel from learning how to barbecue with his dad, feels this lesson can go far for development camp participants of all ages.

“Some of these 17, 18-year-olds, you know, they might not have picked it up yet. So it should be  great learning experience for them, and I’m always open to learning new things.”

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