What do you get when you cross tacos and Tater Tots? Taco Tots, of course.
Thanks to the Fresno Grizzlies and their new food vendor, the Illinois-based Professional Sports Catering, the 2017 baseball season that opens next Thursday promises to provide some tasty surprises. New concession stand signage, new food partners, and a slew of new food options for everyone from the vegetarian to the hot dog lover.
Although the Grizzlies have earned a reputation for wacky and over-the-top foods – remember the gut-busting Schwab hamburger/sandwich or the pulled pork slider with Pop Rocks – this year’s menu may seem a little tame by comparison.
But officials with Professional Sports Catering say it won’t disappoint. The company specializes in ballpark food, providing food services to 29 minor league baseball stadiums and three spring training facilities.
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People may not always remember the score of the game, but they will remember if their hot dog was cold.
Patrick Day, Professional Sports Catering’s director of operations at Chukchansi Park
“Food is such a huge part of the experience of going to a baseball game,” says Patrick Day, Professional Sports Catering’s director of operations at Chukchansi Park. “People may not always remember the score of the game, but they will remember if their hot dog was cold.”
Day said the company will be bringing several of its signature concepts to Chukchansi while creating stronger ties with local food makers and farmers. Day wants to dig into the farm-to-fork concept that the Grizzlies have already helped cultivate with creation of an Agriculture Zone in the outfield concourse.
Professional Sports Catering Chef Gregorio Torres, a native of San Jose, said he jumped at the chance to work in Fresno.
“One of the reasons I took this job is because we are within 50 miles of some of the freshest food in the world,” Torres says. “It’s all here.”
If Torres gets his way, he may plant Fresno chili peppers, tomatoes, and other vegetables on the stadium grounds. As one of the former chefs at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, Torres is excited about the possibilities of using local produce, including Fresno State corn.
“I had some for the first time about a year ago,” he says. “And wow that was good.”
With the help of Torres, the park’s menu is being revamped from the concession stands to the suites.
At the concession level, the food stands will get new names, including Bear Flag Burger, Franx, Sweet and Flashpoint Grille. Local pizza kings Me-N-Eds Pizzeria will also share space among the concession stands.
Day said that as part of taking over the contract, the company is investing about $500,000 in cooking equipment, including new grills to be installed at several of the concession stands for hotter, fresher food.
Those grills will come in handy to cook one of the company’s signature items: burgers. Each burger is made from half a pound of beef and will come in five different flavor combinations, including the Californian that has provolone cheese, avocado, chipotle mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. There is also the Pit Boss that is stacked with pulled pork, coleslaw, pickles and barbecue sauce.
Hot dog fans will also have five different options from the Oink, Cluck, Moo that consists of a quarter-pound hot dog topped with chicken tenders, cheese sauce, barbecue sauce and crumbled bacon to the Firecracker, a quarter-pound hot dog combined with shredded spicy chicken, jalapenos, pepper jack cheese and chipotle mayonnaise. All of the hot dogs come in a soft pretzel bun.
Day, who has worked at minor league parks across the country, said visitors to Chukchansi will also find lower the prices on some foods, including the beer. A 24-ounce beer will drop from $10.75 to $8.
Outside food vendors will also make an appearance from time to time, including Rosa Brothers Milk Company, Rita’s Italian Ice, and Dutch Bros. Coffee. Day said he also isn’t forgetting the non-meat eaters. He is adding a veggie burger and veggie hot dog to the menu along with applesauce for children.
In The Club, formerly the CRU Club, the menu will also get a boost from some new dishes. Torres plans to add a Cuban sandwich, street tacos, chicken tinga – shredded chicken in a chipotle and tomato sauce – and poutine. His take on this Canadian dish includes tater tots topped with brown gravy, shredded beef and cheese curds.