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Mariners chef has a lot of mouths to feed

Chef Jeremy Bryant with Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez. (Contributed photo)

You think it’s tough feeding your family? It’s nothing compared to what Jeremy Bryant whips up every game during baseball season.

Ever since he was young, Bryant loved two things &#8212 cooking and the Mariners. But little did he know one day he’d be able to make a living combining both.

Related: Jamie Moyer: Mariners need to pick it up at home

After attending culinary school in the 1990s, Chef Bryant formed a catering company with a boyhood friend, fulfilling his lifelong dream of cooking for a living.

In his spare time, the Seattle native spent as much time at Mariners games as possible, where a chance-meeting would change his life. He was hanging outside the locker room where he learned for the first time the M’s had a cook preparing food before and after games. He begged for a shot to show his chops.

“I just kept calling them and coming down and saying please let me cook for the team,” he said.

The clubhouse manager finally gave him a chance and Bryant gave it his all.

Bryant and a good friend cooked a spread for the team. It featured an ice carving and all.

The meal was a hit and when Safeco Field opened several years later, the clubhouse manager called again for him to fire up the grill. He’s been there ever since.

But Bryan didn’t know what he was actually getting into.

Bryant begins his day shopping. As he’s cooking for the evening’s dinner, he’s also making meals to order.

Every night, Bryant and team whip up something special for the post-game feast &#8212 from fresh fish to Fajitas. The biggest challenge? Keeping all the players who think they’re better cooks out of the kitchen.

Kendrys Morales once brought in a whole pig and cooked it during the game. He would come back and check on the pig during at-bats, Bryant explained.

The roast actually turned out to be a roaring success. But others, not so much. Like the time former reliever Norm Charlton tried to impress his teammates.

“He calls me up and says, ‘Hey ,Jay, I got dinner man,” Bryant said. The chef was told not too worry about the meal. “I’m thinking great, that helps my budget.

“I thought he was going to buy dinner. I didn’t know what was going on.”

But what Charlton brought most definitely didn’t come from a restaurant or store.

“He shows up with pheasants he just shot, still with feathers,” Bryant continued. “He’s so excited. I’m like you know, Norm, my chicken doesn’t usually have feet and head and feathers.”

Needless to say, the whole endeavor made a bloody mess. “There’s feathers everywhere &#8212 there’s still pellets all inside these birds,” Bryant said. “I keep seeing myself on the news: four Mariners choke…”

Bryant ended up switching the pheasants for Costco rotisserie chickens. Charlton had no idea.

“Charlton was absolutely beaming,” Bryant said.

Experiences like that are the ingredients for a lifetime of memories. Plenty of people have encouraged Bryant to write them down, perhaps share them along with his favorite recipes in a cookbook. There’s just one problem with the recipes: “I would have to call it a guessipe book, because I don’t measure anything,” Bryant said. “We turn music up and cook. I can’t make it like yesterday because we’re freestyling everything.

But as they say, if you can’t stand the heat, you better get out of the kitchen. And after 16 years, Bryant has more than proven he can take as much they dish out &#8212 even if it means catering to 25 different tastes.

He’ll do whatever it takes to satisfy all those appetites. At home is another story.

“I haven’t cooked for my wife probably for a couple years,” he said. “That’s sad. I’m gonna make her dinner tomorrow.”

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