News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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July 18, 2012

ISU chef selected to help support Summer Olympics

Jordan Bayles is a graduate of Terre Haute South Vigo High School

TERRE HAUTE — An executive chef for Sodexo at Indiana State University, Jordan Bayles, will take his culinary skills to the Summer Olympics in London next week.

Bayles, 26, of Terre Haute, will be among 20 Sodexo employees from the United States headed to the Olympics to provide catering services.

He leaves Sunday and will learn his specific assignment when he arrives. “Just to be part of a big event like that is a huge honor,” he said Tuesday. Opening ceremonies are July 27.

As an executive chef for Sodexo at ISU, Bayles works with catering and Generations Restaurant. He has been cooking professionally since 2006.

He applied for the Olympics opportunity in December through Sodexo and was recently notified that he was selected. Since then, he’s been busy securing a visa and making travel arrangements.

Bayles wanted to “get out and experience an event of a large scale in a different country with a different culture,” he said. “There’s a lot of similarities between our cuisine and theirs, but there’s also a lot of dissimilarities. I thought the Olympics might also be a good time to learn a little bit more about other cultures and cuisines.”

According to a Sodexo news release, the company has won the contract for spectator catering at the Olympic Park South, including the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre and Water Polo Arena.

It will cater to an anticipated 4 million spectators as well as media, officials, Olympics workers, artists/performers at opening and closing ceremonies and potentially some of the athletes.

Food services will include everything from fish and chips at concession stands to 10,000-person appetizer parties for opening and closing ceremonies, Bayles said.

He attended DeVaney Elementary, Sarah Scott Middle School and Terre Haute South Vigo High School.

His interest in food comes from his family, he said. His mom was a kitchen manager, his dad was a cook and his grandmother ran a small restaurant in Parke County.

He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and did a six-month internship in Hong Kong. He also has managerial experience; Sodexo at ISU routinely caters events for hundreds of people.

Before joining Sodexo at ISU in February 2011, he worked at the Country Club of Terre Haute, Terre Haute Regional Hospital and Westminster Village.

Bayles hopes to bring back some of what he learns in London. “Even when you cook in such large quantities, you can still learn ways to cook more efficiently on a smaller scale,” he said.

Asked whether he hopes to see Olympic athletes or other famous people, he said, “I never even really thought about that part of it. If it happens it would be cool.”

Sue Sluyter, ISU Sodexo resident district manager, said of Bayles’ selection: “We’re really excited. It’s an amazing opportunity. We’re excited about what he can learn and bring back to us.”

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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