The below post comes from Chef Beth Brown, who helped with all the culinary efforts at New Meadowlands Stadium over the past year. I enjoyed reading it.
So we made it. We did it. We survived the opening of the New Meadowlands Stadium. We began the journey as a group of chefs, strangers to one another with one mission, a single goal, let’s get this stadium up and running successfully. We were like an army led by Chef Eric Borgia, only we had never assembled before and we were going into battle for the first time.
There were many times it felt like just that – battle. Countless days (and I will speak for the group here) we came out of the stadium feeling beat up, wounded and defeated. We did what we knew how to do and that is put our heads down and keep pushing forward. In the process we lost some chefs…maybe they wanted the glory without all the guts? I don’t know, but what I do know is we gained better chefs and with that, a team really started to emerge.
It sounds gruesome and for the first few months and events it truly was. As we began to find systems, teams began to form and everything started to fall into place…we all got into a groove. The army of chefs, no longer strangers began to take on their own projects, a single entity inside this huge building. The success of the building as a whole truly counted on the success of these individuals.
Rick Melfi headed up the Coaches Club, a premier venue feeding up to 2,000 people. Carlos Rimolo took on the Catering Department, an operation that runs seven days a week year round. Camilo Baquero, Chris Pfeifer and Jason DeSiervo were in charge of 200 suites, a huge operation in itself. Kevin Leibfred along with Marc Eyman and Jason Schofield fed the majority of the 85,000 people managing Concessions, the Grid Iron and Touchdown Clubs. Jeff Wheaton was in charge of feeding four owner suites, overseeing all operations of the Food Network Project, and The Great West Hall which feeds up to 700 people. I was responsible for The Commissioners Club (which I talked about in my previous blog) and with the help of Effie Spiegler ran the Legacy and Green Rooms. Chef Eric oversaw it all!
In the beginning it was an upward battle and many times we weren’t positive we could win. Throughout the season we all had our low and high points, but in the end, with the guidance of Chef Eric, we proved to be successful. Things of course are still changing…evolving and I suspect they will continue to do so for the next several seasons. As a whole, the hungry guests were fed and satisfied and when there are 85,000 of them…that’s quite a feat.
Now is no time to rest on our laurels. As we wind down here at the New Meadowlands Stadium we begin the opening of Camden Yards. Jeff and I have traveled to Baltimore once with plans to continue until they are up and running. While baseball is a whole different ball game, I can’t help but feel a slight bit of déjà vu…