KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For many baseball fans, food at a baseball game is just as important as the game itself.
But gone are the days of hot dogs and peanuts. Sure, stadiums still have those. But many now employ chefs who develop new, interesting dishes based on classic ballpark flavors.
Executive Chef Pete Weikel at Kauffman Stadium spends the off-season creating dishes that will satisfy even the pickiest of palate. And he is ready for the 2014 Royals Home Opener.
“We have 40,000 people that are going to come here on Friday so we're looking for things that can really excite a city,” he said.
When experimenting with new recipes, Weikel said it’s important to remember what people love about ballpark food.
“It always has to be sweet, spicy, savory, crunchy,” said Weikel. “It has to have a good mix of everything.”
This year, he and his team at Kauffman Stadium came up with a burger, topped with pepper jack cheese, fresh jalapenos and grilled bacon. But what makes this burger really different is the peanut butter, jalapeno jelly spread.
“It's pretty tasty,” Weikel said. “It stacks up and the juiciness of the hamburger and the peanut butter really adds a different dimension.”
He said they made this burger with Royals fans in mind.
“We have fan feedback surveys and they were looking for a crazy new signature hamburger that had some spice, had some fun and everybody could just really get behind it and celebrate,” said Weikel. “So we thought bacon is good, peanut butter is good, big cheeseburgers are good… so how about a bacon cheeseburger with peanut butter and bacon?”
In addition to the new burger, Weikel and his team of three chefs and 75 cooks will continue to make a fan favorite: Brisket-achos. They developed it two years ago, when Kansas City hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
“We took the best part of a nacho and the best part of Kansas City and kind of pushed them together a little bit,” said Weikel.
Brisket-achos are chips with cheesy corn, baked beans, burnt ends, barbeque sauce and cole slaw.
“All your barbeque favorites, on top of fresh chips,” Weikel said. “Makes the best nachos.”
Of course, Kauffman Stadium continues to offer the ballpark classics like hot dogs and cracker jacks. But they even make those just a little better.
“Our hot dogs are just a little fresher, they're grilled a little nicer,” Weikel said. “Our buns are fresher. They come in that morning from a local bakery.”
Weikel said during the season, they will serve 25,000 hot dogs in one day along with 300 gallons of barbeque sauce. His team will smoke up to 400 pounds of brisket and 600 slabs of ribs every other day, just to ensure they have enough every game day. They serve about 150 pounds of brisket each game day.