overpriced nachos drenched in curiously orange cheese, and ditch the
disappointing stadium hot dogs.
stadiums across the US are reinventing field-side fare with chef-helmed stands
and snacks, and the latest is a pop-up at the New York Mets’ Citi Field from
major league meatpacker Pat LaFrieda.
If there is
such a thing as a celebrity butcher, LaFrieda is it. A second-generation meat
maestro, his award-winning beef is the darling of such discerning New York chefs
as Michael White of Marea fame, and April
Bloomfield of the Breslin and the Spotted Pig. His 500 or more
products are so beloved that the Food
Network even cast LaFrieda in his own primetime US television program, Meat Men.
LaFrieda is bringing high-profile protein to the Queens ballpark. In August
2012, he launched the eponymous pop-up behind the centrefield scoreboard at
Citi Field, where hungry fans wait up to three innings for the chance to sink
their teeth into the Pat LaFrieda original filet mignon steak sandwich. Made
with hand-cut Black Angus beef, the hoagie serves up LaFrieda’s signature steak
alongside sautéed vidalia onions, Vermont monterey jack cheese and beef au jus
on a locally-baked baguette.
gourmet grand slam is not alone. The same Citi Field concourse has an outpost
of Danny Meyer’s US and Middle East burger powerhouse Shake
Shack. And, less than 10 miles away in the Bronx, the New
York Yankees’ stadium serves an array of Italian-American sandwiches from the
rabidly popular Manhattan restaurant Parm. Of
particular note is the Fresh Mozz, a Yankees Stadium exclusive that packs
house-made mozzarella, marinated eggplant, tomatoes and spicy sauce on a round
roll. Prince Fielder aside, it may just be the boldest vegetarian in baseball.
baseball cuisine has spread beyond New York City, with chefs infiltrating
concessions stands across the country. In Houston, Texas, Astros fans
down beef fajitas on handmade, pressed-to-order tortillas from local
restaurateur Bryan Caswell. At the Padres’ Petco Park
in San Diego, California, taco tycoon Ralph Rubio serves spicy shrimp burritos
and signature fish tacos at a stadium branch of his popular San Diego
mini-chain, Rubio’s. In Seattle, Washington,
chef Chris Garr created Ivar Dogs for the Mariners’ Safeco
Field. Named for Seattle seafood mecca Ivar’s
Acres of Clams, the hearty dish tops lightly-fried cod filets with
house-made tartar sauce on a freshly baked bun.
Innovative eats are nothing new at the Giants’
AT&T Park in San Francisco, where stands serve up local specialties
like Dungeness crabs, Ghirardelli sweets and fries topped with California’s homegrown
Gilroy garlic. But at the April 2012 home opener against the Pirates, San
Francisco raised its culinary rankings yet again. The stadium inaugurated what
will be an annual food truck event, bringing city favourites like Phat Thai, El Norteño
and the Crème Brûlée
Cart to the field at the start of each season. The Giants defeated the Pittsburgh
Pirates that night, but Major League Baseball’s gourmet game is just beginning.