That’s why Managing Partners and Lead Chefs Daniel Niedermayer—Native of Charlottesville—and University of Virginia alumnus Sandy Archer decided to partner with the UVa Cavaliers athletic program to provide nutritionally balanced meals tailored to the needs of eight sports teams and nearly 400 student athletes.
Flavor Exclusive Catering is approaching the fourth anniversary of its partnership with UVa’s Department of Athletics, where Niedermayer and Archer are working with nutrition experts to create menus and meal plans to serve student athletes before, after games, and after training. The catering company team works with nutritionists from several teams, including men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s tennis, field hockey, soccer, and softball.
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“Meals and schedules vary from team to team, but our main focus is to provide pre-match meals,” Niedermayer said. “We want to make sure they are getting adequate nutrition and not just eating in the food court before they go out to compete.”
While the food from the three dining halls on the grounds might feed a college student’s hunger, Niedermayer said, it was probably more processed than food prepared by a catering company’s staff.
“When you think of a food court, you think of a pizza bar or a pasta bar or the subs they make and other things like that,” Niedermayer said. Although they can be delicious, the nutritional values behind them are not there. We really take the time to make sure the carbs for the students are not just boiled pasta with red sauce. We’ll make sure they’re delicious as well as providing everything every athlete specifically needs.”
The catering team works with nutrition experts from the Cavalier teams to identify the best carbohydrates to help student athletes sustain their energy as well as the most effective proteins to help students rebuild muscle while exercising all week.
Not only is each meal served for the athletic team, but also for the specific roles of each student-athlete on the team. For example, linebackers, wide receivers, and linebackers all have different nutritional needs, Niedermayer said. While one student-athlete may have a goal to gain weight, another may need to lose weight or gain muscle, so their weekly meal plans and menus will reflect their different goals.
Both the principal chefs and managing partners at Flavor Exclusive Catering were athletes growing up, Niedermayer said. Archer is a former jockey who ran track and field at UVa before graduating from Darden College of Business in 1996 while Niedermayer played lacrosse at Bridgewater College.
“Being former student-athletes is a big part of why we love working with the university,” said Niedermayer. “I know for myself and my boyfriend that nutrition was never my thing. There wasn’t much of a focus when we were in college. When we look at it now, we think about how much of an impact we could have had if we had that kind of outlet.”
Four years after launching the partnership with the UVa Cavaliers, Niedermayer said he’s eager to continue working with the university’s nutrition experts to fuel student athletes to fire up game day.