What's Cooking in the CLG Kitchen?
The players had just about finished their first scrim block of the day and in the absence of the clatter of keyboards and clickety-clacks of mice, you could hear a sizzle coming from the kitchen. And if you couldn’t quite hear the sizzle through headphones, there was no mistake about the sweet smell of caramelized onions and seared marinated meat wafting in a warm afternoon - something good was cooking in the kitchen.
Curious, Jae-hyun “Huhi” Choi peeks inside and glances at the ingredients laid out: kimchi, rice, onions, peppers, sugar, spices, and choice cuts of pork. His eyes light up and he can only put a big grin on his face while stretching his arms wide beckoning for a hug. In front of him, is Counter Logic Gaming’s new team chef Andrew Tye.
There’s something to be said about home cooked meals, and Chef Andrew has been one of the driving forces in helping the players achieve a better lifestyle. Since his introduction to the team’s infrastructure, the word “Chipotle” has not been uttered once. The team wakes up at 8 A.M. to warm croissant breakfast sandwiches, yogurt and granola, or eggs benedict, on top of an assortment of fresh fruit. Everyone now goes to the gym together in the mornings and come back in time for their pre-scrim meetings. Waiting for them might be a light meal with wraps, sandwiches, and salad to fuel the team until their first scrim block finishes around mid afternoon.
In the afternoon the team would have gone out to pick something up from the local eateries. It always had to be quick because they only have an hour break before the next scrim block begins. With Chef Andrew in the house, the players and staff all line up for “second lunch” as people have jokingly begun calling it. That day, it was Korean-style marinated pork, sauteed vegetables, rice, and kimchi on the menu.
Three weeks ago, Andrew never imagined that being a chef for Counter Logic Gaming would even be a possibility.
“It's been so welcoming. Even from the moment I got here, I mean I was nervous as hell coming up to the door. I could hear who I thought, and now know as Devin say ‘Hey everybody come to the door.' And then I heard Darshan and Aphromoo... I almost wanted to run away from the door I was so nervous. I opened the door and shook Darshan's hand and I couldn't believe it. It was still so unreal. We did the house tour and even then it didn't even seem real until the next morning when I woke up in the bed. It's been more than welcoming and I couldn't be happier right now.”
Andrew had been a CLG fan since 2012, watching George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis stream during the days of own3dtv. On a day that can only be described as serendipitous, Andrew just happened to be watching George do a question and answer stream on Twitch.
“I think I have a unique set of skills that can bring value to the company, who can I contact?” Andrew asked in the chat.
George directed him to contact CLG’s CEO, Devin Nash, so he sent an email explaining his culinary background thinking it was a longshot.
It was a number that both Devin and Andrew laugh about today. Eighteen minutes later Devin responded, following up on Andrew’s inquiry. Seven emails more and Andrew had an interview set up the next day.
After the interview, both Devin and Andrew thought they were getting an amazing deal and opportunity. The introduction of a chef of Andrew’s caliber and experience would completely change the way both the CLG players and staff operate. It would save time on travel, the expenses of eating out, give everyone a period of time to eat together, and all of that on top of the added value of just great food. For Andrew, it was the opportunity to merge his two passions, gaming and cooking, “into one perfect chaos” as he would call it.
Experience as a Chef
Andrew’s experience with cooking stretches back years based on both hands-on restaurant experience and a formal education in Culinary Management. People often have childhood dreams that change over time as they grow up. For Andrew, his childhood dream of becoming a chef stuck with him, “I figured out I wanted to be a chef when I ate at the California Grill at Disney World in Florida. It was a beef short rib dish that really solidified that childhood dream. I started out my foray into the restaurant business working at a Burger King in high school. From there I started working in the pub scene and eventually worked my way up in fine dining establishments. At that point I was 21 and decided to enter a dual apprenticeship culinary program.”
He worked as a sous chef in two different restaurants during the program learning culinary management and studying french cuisine. At the same time, he practiced for and competed in the Skills Ontario and Skills Canada competition where he won first and fifth place respectively.
Lots of people in the restaurant industry find it to be not at all what they expect going in. “The chef life is extreme,” Andrew admitted. “A lot of hours. It's definitely a labour of love. You have to love what you're doing to get anything back out of it. So a regular day in the kitchen is twelve to fourteen hours a day. You’re working in a super hot kitchen. It's not an aggressive environment, but it's definitely abrasive. There's a lot of heat, you're around sharp objects, you're under the gun, under the pressure, and customers are waiting.”
Working with CLG, Andrew believes that he can grow as a chef in his goal of becoming the owner and operator of his own establishment. “You want full creative control and to give your customers exactly what you want on a plate,” Andrew said regarding becoming an owner. “This being my first private chef experience hasn’t necessarily changed my long-term goal. But this way of life is very appealing to me because you get to set your own hours and you have more creative allowance by not being locked into a menu. I mean working in esports... I’m a passionate gamer, melding my two passions just works and seems like a really good fit.”
Andrew works closely with the staff to make sure meals are scheduled alongside scrims and takes note of when meals should be on the lighter end. He doesn’t calculate the exact macro and micro nutrients, but makes sure that everyone eats a balanced and nutritious wholesome meal.
“It’s not about eating clean all the time," said Andrew. "It’s about eating a balanced diet that’s going to fill everyone up with good calories, not empty calories from junk food. Everyone works such long hours, they’re working out at the gym, so they need the energy and can’t just live off of greens. Big proteins, vegetables, fruit, grains, and starches - that’s the main part for the players and staff. Being able to give them good food that not only tastes good, but is going to be nutritious.”
The players certainly enjoy the food. "Having Andrew in the house has been a blessing," exclaimed Darshan. "Not only is he an amazing cook, he works extremely hard and is very accommodating to any dietary needs that I have. Plus he's just a great guy. What's not to love about this man?"
And of course, actions often speak louder than words. A few nights ago Jake “Xmithie” Puchero gave himself a generous portion of carrots and squash alongside a serving of slow-cooked roast beef. Something that seemed innocent enough, but was definitely out of the ordinary from the look on his girlfriend's face.
She gave him a stare and could only ask, “Jake?"
It seems like you only need a good chef to get an esports player to eat their vegetables.