Locavores Score! Fresh Food Offerings From Bay Area Stadiums

By Stewart Putney | October 10, 2014
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With Northern California being the birthplace of the local and sustainable food movement, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that our local sports teams are leaders in providing quality, locally sourced food and drinks to Bay Area fans. From gardens in center field to celebrity chef tailgates and all the way to food trucks in the stadium, there has never been a better time to enjoy eating well at the big game. Move over, peanuts and popcorn, here come some highlights of the newest ballpark eats.

Mason-jar-salads

San Francisco Giants

When the San Francisco Giants and their award-winning food service partner, Bon Appétit Management Company, and Peet’s Coffee opened The Garden in center field at AT&T Park, you might think it was to supply All-Star Hunter Pence with enough kale to power him through the stretch run. And it may do just that. But, in fact, the center field garden came from the 2012 Championship Giants visit to the White House. “Last year, during our visit to the White House in honor of our 2012 World Series title, President Obama announced our plans to create an edible garden at AT&T Park,” said Giants President and CEO Larry Baer. “For the past year, our partner Bon Appétit has worked tirelessly under the leadership of its CEO and co-founder Fedele Bauccio to make this vision a reality. As usual, Bon Appétit has exceeded our expectations and has created a special place in the ballpark, which will certainly become a popular place for our fans to gather and an outdoor classroom where our children can learn.” Over 4,000 square feet in size, The Garden supplies fresh-picked greens, vegetables and fruit for Bon Appétit’s ballpark menus and serves as a culinary and nutritional classroom for local kids. Also featuring a bar, dining tables and fire pits, The Garden is open during games and available for private events. Says Bauccio of Bon Appétit, “We believe strongly that fresh, delicious food is a powerful teaching tool. All over the country, at the universities and corporations Bon Appétit serves, we’ve been excited to create and support kitchen gardens and campus farms. This particular one has been a dream of mine for a long time, and I am so proud to see it finally blooming.”

Green-market

San Francisco 49ers

With their new Levi’s Stadium just open, the 49ers and food service partner Centerplate had an opportunity to create a truly local concession program, and they didn’t disappoint. Every 49ers game will be a welcome tour of local food and drink, with 85% of stadium food suppliers from California and 78% from within 150 miles. Local foods include meats from Niman Ranch and Neto’s Sausage; breads from Le Boulanger and Suhki’s Naan; cheeses from Marin French Cheese, Cypress Grove and Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese company. Local produce comes from farmers like Earthbound Farm Organic produce and Christopher Ranch. If you enjoy a beer or a sip of wine at the game, the 49ers have you fully covered. 100% of the wine at the stadium comes from California and they pour local beers from standouts like Anchor Steam, Gordon Biersch, 21st Amendment and Cellar Maker. As 49ers President Paraag Marathe says, ”From the fresh, locally grown ingredients on menus to the investment in equipment and service at every level of the stadium, we are very excited to welcome guests to an unparalleled and highly differentiated stadium experience.” And if you want your local fare cooked up by a Michelin-starred chef, the 49ers also have you covered though their partnership with local legend, and serious 49 fan, Michael Mina. Mina operates a branch of his Bourbon Steak & Pub in the stadium every day. But on Game Day he transforms it into Michael Mina’s Tailgate, a very different type of tailgate party. Open to season-ticket-holding members only, who pay up to $5,000 for a 10-game season, the tailgate takes pregame dining to a different level. With a custom, one-of-a-kind, 13-foot-tall rotisserie (which will cook whole ox) and an elaborate mega-pot seafood boiling station—both complete with loading cranes—diners can expect singular creations from Chef Mina. “Bourbon Steak & Pub at Levi’s Stadium has been the ultimate passion project for me,” said Mina. “I’ve had the rare opportunity to pair two of the things I love most—food and the football—to create two dining experiences that will create the perfect atmosphere for fans of sports and fans of great food.”

food-truck

San Jose Earthquakes

While the San Jose Earthquakes are the most recent addition to local pro sports teams, they already have some history supporting truly local food. Starting in 2011, they were one of the first sports franchises to allow lo cal food trucks to serve fans directly as part of the game experience. For the Earthquakes, including food trucks was an easy way to expand concessions to their fans. And for the fans, it was an opportunity to enjoy a variety of fresh, local and eclectic food. With a revolving lineup of local food truck favorites like BBQ Kalbi, Gold Rush Eatery, Soulnese and Twisted Chill serving unique dishes, Earthquakes fans enjoy some of the best, and most original, food at every game. Even with a new 18,000-seat stadium opening in 2015, the Earthquakes will still support local food trucks, and designed their location into the stadium plan. Along with food trucks, the new stadium will feature one of professional sports’ largest outdoor bars, at over 3,600 square feet. And fans can be assured of a deep lineup of local beer, wine and spirits. “Our new stadium is going to be a great spot for soccer fans and foodies alike,” says Earthquakes President Dave Kaval. “We have brought in local food trucks to set up shop inside our stadium since 2011 and will continue to do so when Earthquakes Stadium opens in 2015. Whether you’re looking for Korean BBQ, chicken and waffle burritos or handmade ice cream sandwiches on a warm night, we’ll have plenty of options available.”

Golden State Warriors

We expect more “foodie” news from the Warriors when their new San Francisco arena opens in the next few years. But, in the meantime, the basketball team is working from a strong foundation. Along with food service partner Levy Restaurants, the Warriors serve local favorites like Niman Ranch meats, Diestel turkeys, Point Reyes Farmstead cheeses, 4505 hot dogs and Acme breads. As Tim Radack, Levy Restaurant’s Executive Chef for the Warriors and Oracle Arena, says, “we definitely try and work local, we source our wines from Napa and Sonoma, pour local beers and get over 80% of our produce from California…we even source oysters from Tomales Bay and Hog Island for champagne and oyster bars at special events.” The Warriors are also leaders in reducing food waste and encouraging recycling. The Warriors and Levy provide compostable, recycled and biodegradable serviceware along with recycling food grease and kitchen composting programs. Considering that the Warriors new arena will be just blocks from some of the Bay Area’s best artisan food providers, brewers and distillers (and a short walk from the Ferry Building) we expect some very tasty news on the horizon. We can’t wait….

Giants photos courtesy San Francisco Giants and BAMCO 49ers photos courtesy of San Francisco 49ers Earthquakes photos by John Todd  

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