Seattle’s Safeco Field gets food concession with local ingredients, menus by award-winning chefs

Buh-bye, limp hot dogs in soggy buns. Baseball season starts April 1st, and Seattle’s Safeco Field–go, Mariners–is celebrating its first home game on the 8th with some serious food.
Centerplate, the leading hospitality provider to North America’s premier sports stadiums, has developed a partnership with award-winning Seattle chef Ethan Stowell, as well as chefs Roberto Santibañez, owner of Brooklyn’s Fonda/culinary director of Hoboken’s The Taco Truck, and Bill Pustari, chef-owner of New Haven’s Modern Apizza.

The revamped Bullpen Market at Safeco Field will feature fresh, local ingredients and easy-on-the-budget prices. In addition to an Apizza outlet, there is chef Stowell’s Hamburg + Frites, and La Crêperie, and Flying Turtle Cantina/Tortugas Voladoras from Santibañez.

Says John Sergi, Chief Design Officer of Centerplate, “Our mission was to create a restaurant-style experience–the anti-fast food–in a concession environment. We (brought in) Ethan as our consulting chef…in order to help us make the food ‘restaurant-real.’

Stowell is the executive chef and owner of Ethan Stowell Restaurants, which includes Tavolàta, Anchovies & Olives, and How to Cook a Wolf. He is the acting chef at eight-month-old Staple & Fancy Mercantile, in Seattle’s gorgeously revamped Kolstrand Building in the Ballard neighborhood.

Best-known for his use of local ingredients and simple, seasonal food, Stowell was named one of the 2008 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine magazine and has been honored with multiple James Beard Award nominations for “Best Chef Northwest.” Santibañez and Pustari were added to the line-up to create programs featuring the signature concepts for which they are both nationally acclaimed–Mexican food and pizza. I might get into sports if this is the future of stadium food.

Minor league baseball teams and their mascots aim to please

As Aaron wrote in a post today, baseball season has officially started. I was reminded of this also while listening to an NPR story on minor league teams and how they got their their names and mascots. The Albuquerque Isotopes was one of the teams featured. The Simpson’s cartoon show is responsible for the Isotopes name after Homer said something about the baseball team being called the Isotopes during an episode. Fans named it.

I went to an Isotopes game when I visited friends a few years back. Even though the stadium has been gussied up since I lived in Albuquerque and favored the Dukes, there’s still that minor league team feel. I am a minor league fan, particularly because I go to games to watch crowds. There’s much more interaction between the game and the crowd in minor league teams. One gets the feeling that the players and the fans belong together. Plus, there are the cheap hot dog nights, the free bobble head nights and the free tickets that get passed out through local parks and recreation centers for kids. My son is always getting tickets to the Columbus Clippers from somewhere. Minor league teams seem to want to build a relationship with fans.

To me, major league teams aren’t about building relationships with a city and its people. Their games are just not as much fun. They aren’t a yawn, but crowd pleasing is more difficult when some fans are several benches up from the action. That’s my impression anyway. I do admit, I love Jacobs Field where the Cleveland Indians play, even though, the ball park is not called that anymore. There is some other corporate sponsor name that I can’t recall. The view of Cleveland is still terrific from the top bleachers. I like how you can see the seagulls from there.