It’s not every day that you hear professional football players clamoring for more oatmeal. But that’s what happened when Fuel for Gold Head Chef, Fauzy Azouz, switched up the Calgary Stampeders breakfast menu one week to keep things interesting.
“One morning we served steel cut oats and the players really liked it,” explains Azouz. “The next week we served fresh waffles made from scratch and they were all asking, ‘Where’s the oatmeal?’ ”
The players were keen to eat more of that stick-to-your-ribs goodness and Azouz was only happy to oblige, but once the players saw what else was on offer they happily took it all in, including the waffles. “These are big guys who need good, fresh, nutritious food,” he says. “And lots of it!”
Fuel for Gold, CSI Calgary’s innovative business offering healthy, nutritious and affordable meals to athletes, students and staff at the University of Calgary, recently began serving breakfast to the Stampeders one morning a week, too. Their weekly team meal at McMahon stadium is player-led and funded, and the switch to Fuel for Gold came after consulting with several other providers.
It was Stampeders linebacker Deron Mayo, who hails from Virginia and was drafted by the NFL Denver Broncos in 2011, who brought everyone together to discuss the team’s options for the breakfast program. After that meeting he got in touch with Azouz to tell him, “Everybody voted for you.”
That vote of confidence strikes a chord with Azouz, who says he knows that the players just can’t get this service, this quality food at this price anywhere else. “What Fuel for Gold offers the players is superior service and quality, like real, fresh eggs, potato hash browns, and healthy waffles made from scratch,” says Azouz.
But it’s not just good food that Azouz says sets Fuel for Gold apart, it’s the sense of community he’s creating around it. “Food is a celebration,” he says. “We don’t sit down together as much as we should or want to. This meal creates a bond for the players and I think they like that. We like to create that kind of excitement and atmosphere on the team.”
For Mayo and his teammates, the food is a hit. “I know their catering is called ‘Fuel for Gold’ but ‘Fuel for Grey’ has a ring to it,” he quips. “It’s been a real treat for the guys to be getting a home-cooked meal instead of having to cook for themselves or stopping at a fast-food restaurant. It allows the team to eat healthier and it really lifts our spirits.”
Fueling top athletes is a joy for the Fuel for Gold crew, who take pride in their role providing high quality, fresh food from scratch at a reasonable price. Adding the Stampeders to their roster has been a boon for the small business with a big heart. Azouz takes it all in stride, even if that means more oatmeal. “We’re doing something we love to do,” he says.
Canadian Sport Institute Calgary: @csicalgary
Written by Kristina Groves: @kngrover
Photo by: Dave Holland @csicalgaryphoto