Chef Vince Navarrete prepares big flavors for a big event calendar at Marlins Park in 2017.
As the ALSD finishes its planning for its annual big event, Levy Restaurants is planning menu concepts and unique service offerings for two of baseball’s biggest events in 2017 – the World Baseball Classic and the MLB All-Star Game.
Any all-star game is no longer just the game. It’s a multi-day festival. This year in Miami, the event schedule includes a concert at AmericanAirlines Arena and a gala across from Marlins Park. To ready for the main event and the panoply of fan festivities on the periphery, it starts with preparation.
“We’ve been looking at this [event] since last June,” says Chef Vince Navarrete, Executive Chef for Levy Restaurants at Marlins Park. “We started formulating exactly what it will take to make this an amazing event and an amazing experience for guests coming in, as well as represent the Marlins and Marlins Park to the fullest.”
One advantage Levy Restaurants has enjoyed is the fact that in March, Marlins Park hosted the World Baseball Classic, the first time that a venue has been selected to host both the WBC and the MLB All-Star Game in the same season.
“We’re humbled and honored in that aspect,” says Chef Navarrete.
The benefit to Levy Restaurants of hosting the WBC is that it served as a test drive of sorts to try a few new ideas and fortify planning.
“We’ve worked out all the bugs for [the MLB All-Star Game],” Chef Navarrete says. “Operationally, it was a nice way to do a practice run.”
On the Menu
Marlins Park has 65 separate menu items, offering a variety well beyond the traditional ballpark menu.
“We strive to give not only the best quality, but variety,” says Chef Navarrete. “It’s about all the different flavors in Miami and the surrounding areas.”
Ample kitchen space and prep areas, as well as cross-utilization of menu offerings, allow Chef Navarrete and his team to feed the masses.
“We want the fan to be able to experience all types of cuisine, whether you’re sitting in the most expensive seat, or you’re sitting in any part of the ballpark.”
Navarrete’s goal for the all-star menu is to provide a taste of Miami.
“Obviously, if [fans] want a beer and a hot dog, we’re happy to oblige. But if they want to be adventurous and look at the whole culinary scene of Miami, they will be able to enjoy that.”
– Chef Vince Navarrete, Levy Restaurants
“I think it is important to give guests an experience that if they only got off the plane, went to Marlins Park, and got back on their plane and left, they get a full essence of what it is to come to South Florida. I hope they get out of their hotels and explore, but I want them to have an experience that’s all-encompassing just by coming to the ballpark.”
The melting pot that is South Florida is extensive when it comes to cuisine, and is home to many iconic restaurants and dishes that will inspire the all-star menu. Guests will experience whole roasted pigs prepared using the Cuban-inspired caja china method. They will enjoy schools of fresh, locally-sourced seafood, executed in elegant dishes like ceviche. No seafood towers here. Unfortunately, no Florida stone crabs either, as the crustaceans aren’t in season in July. But look for plenty of Florida pink shrimp, mahi-mahi, grouper, and snapper.
“Obviously, if [fans] want a beer and a hot dog, we’re happy to oblige,” says Chef Navarrete. “But if they want to be adventurous and look at the whole culinary scene of Miami, they will be able to enjoy that.”
Big Eats on Small Plates
On the suite levels, guests will order F&B packages, encompassing an appetizer, a salad or a ceviche, an entrée, and sides.
In the Ricoh Diamond Club, located behind home plate, and the two Dugout Clubs, located along the first and third baselines, club seat holders will enjoy sampling, small plate atmospheres, and a unique service experience. Inside all three clubs, Levy chefs will cook to order at action stations, and in the exclusive Ricoh Diamond Club, chefs will cook in view of the guest.
The level of in-seat service Navarrete is planning for in the club sections, which are all-inclusive, will set the experience apart from other big events. The Levy culinary team is aiming to provide fans in their seats with the same experiences available in the clubs, just on smaller scales. Fans will literally never have to leave their seats if they don’t want to miss any of the action on the field.
“The assumption is, especially for the Home Run Derby, fans don’t want to miss the action,” Navarrete says. “We’d like to start sending out different in-seat items, because these are all-inclusive areas, throughout different innings.”
Starting with batting practice, and continuing each inning, a new food item will be prepared and passed out by in-seat servers, who will encourage guests to taste different pairings right in their seats.
“Everyone is there for the whole experience, but we don’t want you to miss out on something,” says Navarrete. “So we want to take [food] out to you, so you can watch every second of the game if you so choose to. That’s something that’s going to help us stand out from the pack from what normal operations would be for an event of this scale.”