As the official "food-service provider" for the Miami Heat, chef Michael Jacobs is an integral part of the team because, as everyone knows, what an athlete eats before a game is as important as training. After all, there'll be a big difference in performance if you stuff a player with double bean gorditas than if you serve him a nice turkey meatloaf with whole-wheat penne.
As chef to the Heat, Jacobs could probably write a book about the food preferences of our favorite team. Lord knows we tried to pry some good stuff out of him (doesn't everyone want to know if LeBron James has a hankering for apple pie à la mode or if Dwyane Wade puts ketchup or mustard on his burgers?), so he did agree to share some "secret food intel" straight from the Miami Heat players' dining room.
At the last home game, Jacobs served the players a fresh salad featuring hearts of romaine and julienne red peppers, carrots, and cucumbers with a balsamic-dijon vinaigrette; an oven-roasted turkey meatloaf with roasted seasoned potato wedges; turkey picadillo with basmati rice; three-cheese mac 'n' cheese with a crumble crust; whole-wheat penne with homemade marinara; and lemon-garlic-marinated grilled and sliced boneless breast of chicken with sliced tomatoes with chiffonade of lettuce and bread thins.
Pressed to "spill the beans" on some of the players, Jacobs admitted Mario Chalmers loves pasta, especially the above-mentioned three-cheese mac 'n' cheese, while Norris Cole prefers to keep it light before a game, filling up on grilled chicken with rice and tomatoes.
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If you want to "eat like the Heat," Jacobs is throwing a watch party for tonight's game at his Hidden Kitchen, a secret location inside the Imperial House condominium, located at 5255 Collins Ave., Miami Beach (305-868-7442). Parking is available at the adjacent municipal lot.
Beginning at 7:30 p.m., the chef invites fellow Heat fans to watch the home team beat the crap out of the Spurs on two wide-screen TV sets. He'll serve a menu of $3 to $5 house-cooked goodies (many of them team favorites), as well as beer and wine. Menu items include truffle mac 'n' cheese with smoked brisket bark ($3); slow-roasted pork shoulder sliders ($5); mango-fennel-glazed turkey burritos ($4); Italian sausage-stuffed dates wrapped in imported prosciutto with a pork-red drizzle (two for $5); ripe plum tomatoes, red onion and opal basil bruschetta ($5); tarragon-scented crimini and button mushroom bruschetta ($5); and mozzarella arancini with warm goat cheese crema (three pieces for $5).