Sweet chili smoked salmon and crab salad

1/2 cup smoked salmon
1/2 cup crab claw meat
1/4 cup diced red and yellow pepper
1/8 cup thin sliced red onion
1 head frisée lettuce
Fresh figs

1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
1 T sesame oil
1 T rice wine vinegar
Fresh squeezed lime
2 T diced chives

Sautée salmon with 1 T sesame oil to warm. Remove from pan. Combine all ingredients for dressing. Place chopped frisée on plate. Combine salmon, crab, peppers and onion with half the dressing. Drizzle remaining dressing over frisée. Toss salmon mixture with dressing and placeover frisée. Quarter figs and toss over salad.

ALLENDALE, Mich. - Grand Valley State University Executive Chef Paul Mixa said cooking for Olympic athletes in London was the experience of a lifetime.

Mixa, a Chicago native who joined Grand Valley in 2004, was part of a team of international chefs selected to prepare dishes for athletes who competed in the Olympics from August through September.

"It really was a great experience," said Mixa. "I think the most amazing thing about it was that all these different chefs and people who never worked together came together to pull off a huge event. We were feeding 18,000 people a day."

Chefs were divided into smaller teams to prepare different types of cuisines, such as African, Asian and Italian. Mixa was part of the "heart of the kitchen," the team that gathered and prepared ingredients for all the different stations. The kitchen was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. "Some athletes were there at three in the morning, it was pretty steady throughout the whole day," Mixa said.

Mixa had to learn how to use the metric system, which he said was challenging at first. "We used it every day so I got a handle on it quickly," he said. "On my last day, someone needed two kilograms of peppers, so I prepped them, and I was like 'Yes!' when she said they were spot on," he said.

Learning the different names of ingredients used in Europe also took some getting used to, said Mixa. For example, cilantro is called coriander and sugar snap peas are called mange-tout.

Mixa got a chance to watch runners during the Paralympics and the match between Japan and the U.S. in women's soccer finals during the Olympics. "All the cheering sent shivers down my spine when the U.S. scored their first goal. It was great to see so much American pride," he said.

Mixa has taught food science courses in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program at Grand Valley and attended Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Arizona.

Courtesy: Leah Zuber, Grand Valley News and Information Services