Hours before the New York Yankees took the field Tuesday — a 4-0 shutout win against AL East foe, the Toronto Blue Jays — Yankee fans filing outside the stadium pregame mused about their favorite ballpark food and what they expected to eat during last night’s game.
While Yonkers resident Paul Jones, 38, is a traditional hot dog and beer baseball fan, his 12-year-old daughter Olivia — who is a vegan — was surprised to find out that she could have a plant-based burger for her first father-daughter game on Tuesday.
“When I think of baseball, I think of greasy burgers, nachos and tons of beer,” Olivia told the Bronx Times before Tuesday’s 7:05 p.m. start. “But it’s weird, but also comforting to know I can have my dietary needs met here.”
On Tuesday, members of the media were treated to the depth of culinary offerings at Yankee Stadium, which include new partnerships such as NYC food staple Halal guys in Section 321 and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Streetbird restaurant in Section 112. For Samuelsson, whose name and dishes have been everywhere from Food Network to PBS, there’s a certain pride in having his restaurant in Yankee Stadium.
“This is a lifelong dream, ” Samuelsson told the Times. “Yankee Stadium is one of those locations where you don’t need an address to know where it is. It’s that iconic. And so, to have Streetbird, which we started in Harlem and turned national have a small part to play in Yankee Stadium is a dream come true.”
Samuelsson hopes that patrons — whether longtime fans or first-timers — bring an open appetite and rotate all of the stadium’s offerings for those planning to catch multiple Yankees games this season.
“If you look at all the food offerings, it’s all really great stuff and I think it shows a lot about the Yankees’ curiosity to highlight the best of the city for their fans who live in New York City and elsewhere,” he said. “The stadium should represent the city, and whatever the city looks like, should be brought into the ballpark.”
On display in a private event room of Yankee Stadium for sampling on Tuesday were menu items such as:
- Bacon Crunchburger from Bobby’s Burgers: burger, bacon, cheese, potato chips and Bobby’s Sauce.
- Burrata Burger from City Winery: Burratta cheese with nut-free pesto, cabernet sauvigon and balsamic reduction and arugula on a toasted brioche bun.
- Beef Gyro Sandwich and Chicken Platter from The Halal Guys.
- Hot Bird Sandwich from Streetbird: Boneless chicken thigh with spicy chica shake, slaw and pickles.
- Sumo Dog from Sumo Dog: With Wasabi relish, pickled peppers, spicy Mayo, Teriyaki sauce, wasabi furikake, minced onion and kizami nori.
These food options and their vendors join a lineup of returning partners that were new last season including Applegate Naturals, Chickie’s & Pete’s, Oatly, Sumo Dog and Wings of New York.
Before entering Gate 4, diehard Yankee fan Monica Reyes told the Times that one of her concerns when it comes to ballpark eating is the potential of spilling sauces on her clean pinstripe Aaron Judge jersey. She also said that she used to struggle to find alternatives to red meat since becoming a regular stadium-goer since 2002, but has noticed how the stadium has branched out in recent years.
“I’ve noticed more things that I think people who live around here would like, because baseball’s a long game and you need some good food for all nine innings,” the Claremont resident said.
Accommodating the vocal Yankees fanbase on their culinary likes and dislikes is a balancing act, one that Senior Executive Chef Matt Gibson — who has worked at Yankee Stadium since 2010 — has taken to heart as the stadium’s concessions have evolved from standard finger food to more complex and diverse dishes.
“We have very direct feedback from our fans, but that helps become better because if you’re not coming out with 5, 10, 15 new concepts, you’re behind the 8 ball,” he said. “I moved to New York to cook professionally, and this city is so widely-regarded … the partners we have the opportunity to work with here at Yankees Stadium is tremendous for us and our fans.”
Gibson said the chefs behind the iconic ballpark’s constantly-updating menu have worked tirelessly to improve their offerings with new partnerships — including with many widely-known names that have brought their creations to the Bronx.
His word of advice for patrons? “Come hungry.”
“I would come hungry,” Gibson said. “There’s so many different options from Halal Guys, to a crispy chicken sandwich from Marcus Samuelsson, to a nice glass of wine from City Winery — it’s so hard to narrow down to one recommendation — that we just want people to bring their appetite and open mind to the options.”
Much of the Bronx’s recovery from COVID-19 relies on the year-over-year success of the local ballclub as the Yankees are routinely North American sports’ highest-valued franchise with The Bronx Bombers’ valuation climbing 14% to $6 billion this year.
As many are itching for a shred of pre-pandemic normalcy, Opening Day Weekend saw the Yankees take two out of three from their bitter rivals, the Boston Red Sox — a small sense of normalcy returned to Yankee Stadium, for Gibson.
“There’s a relationship between our sports experience and food, and as chefs we love to prepare food,” he said. “Opening up with Boston and having this placed packed on Friday was bonkers. It felt normal, because it hurt [in 2020 and 2021], and having the fans back and engaging with the team, the stadium and our partners is just amazing.”
Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes