When Vikings team chef Geji McKinney-Banks traveled to London in June for her advanced scouting trip, she already knew she likely needed to outsource USDA beef, otherwise Vikings players weren’t going to be happily fed during this weekend’s business trip across the Atlantic.
McKinney-Banks, well-versed from the Vikings’ first trip to London in 2013, recalled the first time she bit into a hamburger prepared in a London kitchen.
“It came right back out, that’s how off it was,” McKinney-Banks said. “I wasn’t expecting that. It tasted spoiled, but it wasn’t. I had to get the waitress, and they didn’t know what I was talking about. I had to remember, yeah this is what this is.”
Feeding a travel party of nearly 170 people abroad, including 50-plus football players, was no task to overlook.
The Vikings put their trust in Mc-Kinney-Banks, who pulled through four years ago with a separate stir fry station that became a hit when some meals weren’t attracting players. She stuck to the same Plan B this time around.
“No one went hungry and everyone was happy,” McKinney-Banks said.
Keeping NFL appetites satisfied, even for a four-day trip, requires meticulous planning.
McKinney-Banks visited the team hotel in London four months ago to meet with local chefs, many of whom are from far reaches of the globe. She needed to make sure she was on the same page with them. A whole meal can go awry with simple misunderstandings on words like “biscuit” or by serving runny scrambled eggs.
“To them, a biscuit is a cookie,” McKinney-Banks said. “So I had to get our Bisquick shipped over there.”
There were London dishes prepared such as fish and chips, but Mc-Kinney-Banks ensured she packed enough staples of “southern eating” and items as simple as waffle flour, hot sauce, Lawry’s seasoning salt and Lipton sweet tea. In bulk, too, considering she goes through 160 pounds of chicken wings on a regular Thursday at the Winter Park cafeteria.
“Our stuff is a little sweeter and saltier than most places,” McKinney-Banks said.