By Megan Morketter
Special to Stlouisrams.com
For the St. Louis Rams, player nutrition is about building energy pregame and rebuilding muscle postgame, all while satisfying the cravings of the 52-man roster. Enter Russo’s Catering whose versatility in the kitchen makes for a perfect fit with the Rams.
During the season, the team serves more than 350 meals to the players. As such, the ability of a caterer to provide variety while maintaining the quality of the food is a necessity, according to Shawn Zell, team chef and dietitian.
“Russo’s has a lot of versatility in what they are able to bring out,” said Zell. “The great thing about them is that they are able to do everything. I can send them recipes and go back and forth with them.”
Zell works with Tom Russo, executive chef and owner of the local catering company, to develop 2-3 meals per week that meet the players’ dietary needs.
Prior to games, the focus is on consuming carbohydrates to create a storage tank of energy that players will burn through as they compete on their highest athletic level. Postgame, which is generally when caterers like Russo’s come in, players need protein to rebuild muscle after the breakdown that has happened on the field.
Russo enjoys stepping up to this challenge. As the head of a family-owned business that has been serving the St. Louis community for 50 years, Russo also appreciates the camaraderie formed in the kitchen.
“We have created many ethnic buffets and presentations that players and coaches really enjoy,” said Russo. “Shawn and his assistant Zack are very interactive with preparing their specialty dishes alongside Russo’s offerings. It’s always a fun time ‘chef’n’ with those guys. They are great to work with.”
Zell also noted the importance of having Russo as the Rams’ main point of contact.
“Tom Russo is very involved in the food over there and very connected with the client,” said Zell. “He does an outstanding job. Russo’s is kind of our kitchen away from our facility. We can call an hour before a meal, and they are out here in 30 minutes ready to feed 130 people. They are very good at what they do.”