Jake Reed wants a hot waffle. Randy Moss prefers two pancakes.
Matthew Hatchette went one pancake further with his order.
The Vikings are serious about what they eat, and when they enter the cafeteria at Winter Park, they know the three-person crew of team chef Jim Muse and his assistant Geji McKinney are prepared to cook up their favorites every day they report to work.
It doesn't matter if it's breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Vikings know a good meal is only a short walk away from their locker room.
It's all a part of coach Dennis Green's master plan of creating a player-friendly environment. Every time a Viking lifts a fork, knife or spoon, the plan works.
"That food is unbelievable, especially the breakfast," said Vikings cornerback Jimmy Hitchcock, who is in his first season with the team. "I come from a different place, and that food is unreal. Sometimes you get specially made stuff like a sweet potato pie, and man. . . . it gives you a Southern down-home feeling. There are a lot of great aspects to being on this team. You have a spiritual part of being on this team, and this is just a great group of guys. They fed us in New England, but not like this."
This kind of compliment is what every cook loves to hear.
Besides making the players' taste buds happy, there is another reason for the home-style cooking in the workplace.
"Nutrition is a big part of it," Green said. "So many guys in the National Football League are young, and a lot of them are single. If they are married, their wives might work. It's so much better to start your day off, primarily because we weight train in the morning anyway. They can come in and get a good meal after weight training to start their day off right. Every study will tell you that you should eat breakfast. If we didn't offer this, then they'll be eating fast food, clearly. That's what young guys do. That's one: the nutrition factor.
"Our schedule is really tight. The guys can go upstairs, get a meal and then continue on to their meeting. It really makes the day good and compact. The other factor is camaraderie. Say a guy playing offensive line is sitting down having breakfast or lunch with a guy that plays defensive back or something. Having that there, it gives guys a better chance to know each other. Now, they aren't just looking at another football player who plays a different position."
It's a far cry from the days when each player would fend for himself on fast food or buy something to eat off a truck that pulled up outside the team's practice facility.
The cafeteria at Winter Park was added when the Twin Cities played host to Super Bowl XXVI in 1992.
"When they put in the bid, one team was going to practice at the University of Minnesota, and the other team would need a facility to practice," Green said. "So, the NFL and the Vikings built that facility (the current indoor practice field) along with it. Rather than have the guys come down from the hotel, practice and go back, they said you ought to have a cafeteria where they can eat there, too. That all came about with that building. When I got here in '92, we were just the beneficiaries of that."
Green has made good use of the resource.
The Vikings Food Service crew not only prepares meals for the players and coaches, but every employee of the organization has an invitation to sample the cuisine.
So, Muse, McKinney and Blair, the older brother of former Vikings linebacker Matt Blair, are cooking for 125 people on most days.
Muse, who started working for the Vikings in 1993, does the bulk of the cooking. He prepares dinner for the coaches on Tuesday, breakfast and lunch on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for breakfast.
He heard about the job through his culinary school in Kansas City, Mo.
"There was a job search firm that one of my teachers saw," said Muse, who also owns his own catering service in the Twin Cities. "I was told to get to Minnesota as soon as I could. I came up in 1992, and that's when I met (Green). I explained to him that I still had a whole semester to finish. He told me to come back when I was done. I came back, and I got the job."
Finishing up the classes has been a tremendous help for Muse. "That was the thing I learned most in school, is batch cooking," said Muse, 48. "It's really paid off. What you do is anticipate what a person is going to consume, which is very hard here. This is my sixth season, so I pretty much have a rule of thumb down at this point. So for somebody to come in would be very tough.
"This whole program was set up to control the players' diet. If you can control the players' diet, you can win some football games. This was the first NFL team to have a team cook. One that is really coming along to this thinking is Tampa Bay. Tony Dungy was here, and he knows the importance of it."
McKinney, 27, is in her fifth season working for the Vikings Food Service.
"It's a lot of work, but I've gotten used to it," said McKinney, who is originally from Atlanta. "You know what to make, how to make it the way they like it. It's cool. It's not as hard as people might think it would be.
"I make a lot of desserts, and I prepare the salad bar. I also cook breakfast food. I do my pancakes and waffles and toast. I help (Muse) out any way I can. The players usually don't have to say a word. It's kind of automatic after a while. They really appreciate what we do."
Many times Muse and company will prepare Southern meals. One specialty is a lunch that includes honey-roasted herb chicken, black beans, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, cornbread and jambalaya.
"It gives you a sense of being at home," Vikings free safety Orlando Thomas said. "You get to eat some nice meals. I'm from Louisiana, so you don't really get too much soul food cooking around here. It's good. They do that often, and that's what I like. I like to cook myself, and I like to eat."
Fullback Chuck Evans added: "We're just in a pretty good situation around here, you know. Denny Green wants the guys eating right. We have breakfast every morning, and that's the most important meal, at least it is to me. When I get a good breakfast, I'm pretty much ready for the rest of the day. Denny has set the standard on that, and it's working out pretty good. You don't normally get Southern cooking in Minnesota, so every now and then it's nice to have."
It's Blair's job to make sure all of the ingredients are ready to be prepared.
"My main function is to make sure the meals get out on time," said Blair, in his fourth year with the Vikings. "I also help Jim and Geji with daily tasks. Purchasing, keeping food in the house, and I plan out meals. We put our heads together with the meal planning so we have an idea of what each day is going to be like.
"Our food bill varies. We can probably get everybody fed here for a little over $2,000 a week. I try to make sure we have enough of everything. We use a buffet style of set up so the guys can get what they want. We just make sure we have plenty of everything. I have an idea of what we need for each meal."
It's another reason why many of the Vikings chose to re-sign with the club when free agency pops up.
"You hear other guys around the league complain about what their teams feed them," said Corey Fuller. "In the morning when we come in, we have it just like home. It makes you want to come to work. Those early morning meals get you ready for the day."
Vikings who have been on other teams know how well they have it now.
"I was in Arizona, and they didn't have lunch, they didn't have breakfast, they didn't have anything," said center Jeff Christy. "For people who never have been anywhere else but here don't realize, but it is very handy thing to have. I definitely like it, especially since I like to eat."