The Cook Who Guards the Visitors’ Bench

Author’s note: I first met Shawn, the subject of this piece, through fellow OFB contributor Tara Wheeler last season when she and I would cover games together. He often makes chocolate truffles (as you’ll read about below) and brings them to home games, and, since I never met a chocolate dessert I didn’t like, I tagged along with Tara as a familiar face. As a new Caps season begins, I thought Caps fans might enjoy getting to know Shawn’s interests as much as Tara and I did. There are so many people who media members interact with at the Verizon Center but who work without public recognition to make Caps games run as they do. Shawn’s diverse interests are too good not to share.

Down in the basement of the Verizon Center, right where the visiting team files out through the tunnel onto the visitors’ bench, stands someone you probably don’t want to mess with.

Shawn Jewell has been a security guard at the Verizon Center for the Capitals since the building opened, and he spent the 5 years prior working at the Capitals’ old home, Capital Centre. He was a hockey fan growing up and now witnesses the game literally as up close and personal as it gets.

Shawn says he’s able to watch about 60-85 percent of the games, depending on the team the Capitals are playing. Major rivalry games, as expected, leave less time for puck observation. People around there know not to mess with Shawn (especially the fans that try to steal hockey sticks or use language). He’ll give troublemakers a look, then a discussion, and if that doesn’t suffice, it’s in their best interest if they leave the game.

But journalists and other teams also know Shawn for a very different talent:  his cooking ability. One of his signature items are truffles, which he makes in a variety of flavors (from banana to mint) and brings to games.

“I’m not very good on desserts, and truffles were easy, and then I just experimented,” Shawn says.

Despite his claim of not being ‘very good’ at desserts, Shawn’s cooking (including the truffles) has earned the praise of even his home team’s rivals. In fact, one coach for the former Atlanta Thrashers liked one of Shawn’s meals so much that he gave it a shoutout during a postgame interview.

Shawn said he’ll often invite friends over for dinner to try new recipes. Two of Shawn’s coworkers from many years ago are the most regular attendees.

“They tell me, when I’m cooking, they will eat breakfast, and they won’t eat lunch,” Shawn says.

In fact, Shawn is now putting together a cookbook with a working title of The First Date.

“It’s the meal the guy cooks for the girl on the first date,” Shawn explains of the recipes in the book. “It’s hard for guys to make that meal for the girl.”

Shawn says several of his friends are cooks, and one relative is a professional chef. Shawn learned to cook from his mother – a more meat and potatoes kind of cook, he says.

Shawn says his family wasn’t particularly phased when he got the job that allowed him to brush shoulders with visiting stars and Caps alumni. Shawn even remembers Olie Kolzig’s first game at Verizon Center not as a Capital, but as a member of the visiting team.

“Kolzig spent 17 years on that side, came out of here, was super nervous the first time, he told the guys, ‘You guys don’t understand. This is the first time I’ve ever come out into this building out of this side,’” Shawn recalls.

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One Response to The Cook Who Guards the Visitors’ Bench

  1. Mike Rucki says:

    I was fortunate enough to have one of those truffles at a game last winter. SO good.

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