This is a guest post from Chef Beth Brown.
In March, I embarked on a journey from Yosemite National Park in California to East Rutherford, N.J., along with my husband and fellow chef, Jeff Wheaton. After having worked for several years as chefs for Delaware North Companies’ parks and resorts division at Yosemite’s lodges, including the historic Ahwahnee, we decided it was time for a change and for new challenges.
So, we accepted sous chef positions at The New Meadowlands Stadium with Delaware North Companies Sportservice. Having never worked in a stadium or opened a brand-new facility, we really had no idea just how challenging this undertaking would be. I remember landing in Newark, driving to East Rutherford and then seeing the massive monolith for the first time. I was both excited and scared.
At first, the learning curve was huge, but I quickly found a mentor in Executive Chef Eric Borgia (just as Chef Henin said I would) and began to learn the ropes. I found that my experience in resorts helped me in Sportservice immensely. It did not prepare me for the sheer scale of the facility, the pallets upon pallets of food or the vast amount of labor it takes to run an operation of this size. However, it did prepare me to take on the Commissioner’s Club.
The Commissioner’s Club is a beautiful 400-seat venue, catering to 20 luxury suites. The club is adorned with leather, dark wood and two large fireplaces. I was excited this was my spot. With the guidance of Chef Borgia and Chef Chris Harkness, who came from the New York City caterer Great Performances to help oversee the stadium’s premium areas, I quickly began developing menus.
This is where my resort background really came in handy. I am still curing duck, butter-poaching lobster tails and glazing short ribs, but the menus are fun and interactive. I always include stadium fare because as much as people love lobster, it is a football game and people still want a hot dog. I love taking stadium fare and elevating it. Last week, for example, the baked-potato bar was decked out with all the usual accompaniments – chili, bacon, sour cream — plus some surprise toppings: truffle butter, crème fraiche and caviar.
While I am settling in with Sportservice nicely and every event is becoming a little more natural to me, I am still in awe of all the people, food and planning it takes to feed so many hungry fans. That is just my side…my point of view. I work with many other chefs, my husband included, who also have stories about this huge undertaking, the opening of this giant we call New Meadowlands Stadium.