SportsQuest for the Cup


Eat like a champion: An inside look at Tampa Bay Lightning team meals

Posted at 6:03 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 18:03:06-04

TAMPA, Fla. — While the Tampa Bay Lightning prepare for each game of the Stanley Cup Final, teams are working behind the scenes to make certain they’re fed like champions.

To power a team of champions, the Lightning need the right food for fuel. That’s where Waylon Nelson comes in.

Nelson is the Director of Culinary and Premium Hospitality for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He oversees all the culinary aspects of the arena, including managing team meals.

“Game day is always the same,” said Nelson. “They have an omelet station in the morning, a full breakfast, breakfast sausage, bacon, waffles or pancakes, eggs, egg casserole. They move right into lunch a half-hour after that closes, which has a pasta station, filet mignon, grilled chicken, salmon, a full salad bar.”


Nelson said the team gets an afternoon snack, and of course, they’re fed post-game.

“They’ll get sushi, two entrees, another pasta station, a starch, and a vegetable,” said Nelson.

Nelson also weighed in if they ever get any odd or special requests.

“Fresh-made pasta, caviar, chicken wings, ribs, different things like that, and really those are awarded when they’re winning as a cheat day,” said Nelson.

It’s not just the team they’re cooking up for. Nelson is also in charge of food for the games for avid fans.

“I like to say my dining room has 19,000 seats,” said Nelson. “We have 30 plus food stands, the all-inclusive clubs. Some kitchens produce food for as much as 5,000 people a game.”

Nelson said they’ve crafted different items in the concession stands to feature local ingredients, a way to always serve up something special.

“It’s kind of unique to elevate that arena fare from just chicken fingers and hot dogs to we have a triple burger patty of all fresh ground meat in a concession stand with three different kinds of cheese. It’s a triple threat, going for that three-peat right?” said Nelson.