Despite trying to focus on the man at the podium, reporters on Tuesday were fidgeting in their chairs and glancing outside of the glass media room inside the New Meadowlands Stadium Coaches Club. While Bill Lohr, general manager of Delaware North Sports Service, was introducing the chefs and his staff that have planned the stadum's food offerings this season, everyone in attendance was itching to taste-test the food.
With over 800 points of sale, a catered tailgating area outside the stadium, 42 permanent concession stands and 90 portable food carts, the Jets' new home will be rife with opportunities for fans to participate in one of humankind's most basic and natural joys — eating. Delaware North, a global hospitality and food service provider, unveiled some of its 25 new menu items for 2010, including stadium fan favorites and products traditional to the New York/New Jersey area. Lohr welcomed the media to the first taste of what 82,500 fans will be able to enjoy come gameday.
"We know that New York is serious about their food and serious about their football," Lohr said. "This is real football food for real football fans. When you come to a game on a Sunday, it's kind of like 'cheat day' — sure, we offer salads and gluten-free items and healthy things, but a lot of people want to come to a game and have a sausage sandwich and those are the type of foods we've prepared for the concessions today."
With executive chefs Eric Borgia and Christopher Harkness leading the way, Delaware North has introduced original concessions concepts such as the Boardwalk Fryer, cheesesteak stands, Custom Grind Brooklyn Burger and Fries, and New York Deli. In addition, portable food and beverage carts will feature a variety of options, from gyros to Nathan's hot dogs to Taylor ham sandwiches.
"We've invested a lot of time and energy in upgrading the food and beverage experience for fans," said Chris Pierce, Jets senior director of merchandise and concessions. "The mindset in the building is the 'home-food advantage' — it's become our mantra. We have some great recipes. It's the type of food you want to eat at a football game that people might prepare in the parking lot. We've executed that in a stadium environment, which is really unusual. It's going to be an enormous upgrade over what we had previously."
While Jets fans perpetually exude the New York/New Jersey spirit, now their attitude will be reflected in the food. Franks that one would find on Coney Island, fried clam strips that one would find down on the Jersey shore and hot pastrami and corned beef sandwiches will all be available at the stadium in addition to the burgers, hot dogs and fries that fans expect to see at a sporting event.
"We talked about signature items and items that are local favorites," Lohr said. "Things that if you grew up in this area your mom or grandmother might have made for you. Our meatball sandwich is our chef's grandmother's recipe."
Nonna Fusco, Chef Borgia's grandmother, would be proud to know her meatball recipe will be a staple at Jets games this season. Every meatball will be hand-rolled the morning of games, which ensures the freshness and perfect taste of each meatball sub.
Premium dining food that will be available in the Commissioner's Club, Coaches Club, Great Hall Club, Touchdown Club and Gridiron Club was also on display Tuesday. In addition, the attendees were also introduced to the wide variety of alcohol and beer selection, which will be available at 91 locations throughout the stadium.
While there are a wide array of beers on tap and in bottles, Tuesday was truly about the food and the results were fantastic across the board. One item, however, stood out to this reporter more than any other and Chef Harkness took the time to describe it and why it will surely be a Jets fan favorite.
"Don't miss the pork," Harkness said. "We do an Italian roast pork sandwich. Everything is made in house, it has good spice, it has good kick and good energy and that's what Jets fans are all about — good fight and good energy. That sandwich really says everything there is to say about what Jets are like."