Talking Marlins Ballpark Food With Chef Morales: Part Two

In part one of yesterday's interview with Centerplate Sun Life Stadium Executive Chef Orlando Morales, we went over some of the logistics of providing food to tens of thousands of hungry Marlins fans. Today the chef describes some of the specific new foods -- like paella!

New Times: There are all these great sounding new foods being promoted this season at the other Centerplate vendored ballparks, but the only things announced for Marlins games was new equipment. Why shouldn't we feel screwed?

Orlando Morales: It's true, the other Centerplate venues had some major menu concept overhauls this season, but Miami did not get the short end. Sun Life Stadium is sporting some creative new food concepts as well, only we debuted ours a little early this year at the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl. We had the nation's attention, so we pulled out all the stops here a few months before everyone else. If you haven't been here in the past two years you wouldn't even recognize the place. There used to be hot dogs, popcorn and  burgers. Now it's a beautiful Stadium with lots of new flair: Latin cuisine, open flame grills, carving stations, pulled pork smoked in-house at Everglades BBQ, Carnegie Deli, a more open feel and new POS system and flat screen menu boards to better our speed of service.  Football fans already had a preview, but the benefits of new upgrades in service areas and menu concepts made their official MLB debut when the Marlins played their season opener.

What else you got?

Stop by any Friday game and check out the Paella -- traditional

seafood, sausage and vegetable paellas slow-cooked in a cast iron pan

are sold on the concourse level. We started this at the Super Bowl and

are getting a great response so far this season. We also completely

reimagined the way we make pizza this year with a new recipe to make

and knead hand-pulled dough from scratch right before the games. The

smell is intoxicating. Marlins fans should also stop by the Franks

stand, which wasn't around last season. It offers themed hot dogs, like

the Mexican Dog, Cuban Dog, Miami Dog, Pretzel Dog and Chicago Dog.

Why can't you come up with a better nachos?

I think we have some of the best nachos in the business! I'm stunned.

When was the last time you tasted the nachos we sell here? We make our

own chips, our own chili con carne, and all of the toppings are fresh.

Our different stands also have their own take on nachos, for example

the nachos at our Everglades BBQ stand adds barbequed pulled pork to

its version topped with red jalapeno peppers that we bring from

Chihuahua, Mexico.

OK, I admit it, I haven't been to a Marlins game the past couple

of years. But don't think I won't go this season just to see if you're

right about the nachos. What's the best bang for the buck?

Not to sound hokey, but all of them.

C'mon now.

Honestly. We create items and want them to sell. If the price turns

people away, we lose, so fan value is a huge consideration for us. As

for a specific item with personal value appeal, I'd go for the Grilled

Chicken Sandwich. It's a seven-ounce chicken breast, marinated in

spices and flame-grilled, served with lettuce, tomato and pesto mayo.

We grill the focaccia and assemble it fresh. It's served with home-made

potato chips dusted with parmesan cheese for $10.

How would you describe Centerplate's overall philosophy concerning ballpark cuisine?

As we see it, so much of the game-day experience is the food: the way

kettle corn smells coming down the aisle, juggling 5 hot dogs on the

way back to your seat, trying to time a pizza run with a pitching

change. We're fans and we're foodies - that's the foundation of the

business model. Baseball is an iconic piece of American culture, and

Centerplate has much respect for game-day traditions like hot dogs and

popcorn, but we are also excited by the multi-cultural influences

driving the future of the game.

Thanks chef. And remember -- I'm going to be checking out those nachos.

Tomorrow: Want to stay home and watch the Marlins on television, yet still yearn for a taste of authentic ballpark food? Chef Orlando shares Centerplate's recipe for arepas.

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