Sporting Kansas City will kick off its season Saturday with new chef-driven menu items that sound like restaurant fare.
Instead of hot dogs, fans can get a jalapeno cheddar dog and load it with Chicago relish and whole grain mustard. Or they can order housemade chips with ribeye steak, warm blue cheese and caramelized onions.
The Kansas City, Kan., stadium has a new executive chef, Kevin Stenberg, who moved here from Dallas two weeks ago to help his culinary team introduce items focused on fresh ingredients.
“Food is the focus for everything these days. People are blogging about it, writing about it. It’s on television,” Stenberg said. “When it comes to stadium food, it’s no longer just hot dogs and french fries, but grilled cheese with arugula or with short ribs.”
Stenberg was 15 years old when he took a job at an artisan bakery in his hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C. He’s been hooked on cooking ever since.
After college, he planned to enroll in culinary school while working at a convention center. But the center’s chef put him on a different path.
“He said, ‘Save your $120,000 and work with me for two years and get paid. I will teach you everything you need to know,’” he recalled.
He later became executive chef at a bed-and-breakfast and then opened a restaurant with a business partner. It closed in late 2009 when their landlord wanted to double their rent during the recession.
Stenberg then started a career in stadium cuisine after being hired six years ago by Legends Hospitality, which oversees food and beverage programs at stadiums across the country.
Legends recruited him to direct food innovations as executive chef at then-new BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem. He also led Legends’ culinary program at Houston’s Constellation Field, home of the Sugar Land Skeeters and for a short stint worked at the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, England. He also headed the private suites culinary program at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, for more than two years.
Some of this year’s new offerings for Sporting KC:
▪ The Big Cheese: Section 117. A new station offering gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches for $10, including the Short Rib Mac Grilled Cheese (braised beef short ribs and cheddar cheese on Texas toast), Thick-Cut Bacon (applewood smoked bacon and cheddar cheese) and Tomato/Arugula (Manchego cheese, arugula and tomato jam), along with tomato soup.
▪ The Tap: Section 117. Added the $10 Chicken and Waffle Sandwich (topped with maple pecan mayonnaise, jack cheese, caramelized tobacco onion and applewood smoked bacon).
▪ Wok This Way: Section 120. It will now offer rice bowls with white or brown rice and fresh vegetables with chili-glazed chicken, marinated beef and vegetable tofu. The rice bowls are $11.
▪ The Wine and Cheese Cart: Section 122. Wines, fine cheeses and dessert platters, including dark chocolate-dipped strawberries, white chocolate-dipped Oreos, brownies and truffles.
▪ The Fresh Market: Section 123. It will now feature “farm to fan” fresh fruit and vegetables and children’s favorites like the Triple Decker Brioche PB&J (Farm to Market brioche with seasonal fruit jam), and guacamole and chips.
For dessert, the Giant “Sporting” Cupcake and the Rice Crispy Sampler — classic, chocolate peanut butter and fruity.
▪ Sporting Fare: Section 101 & 127. Added a new Smoked Chicken Sandwich (cherry-wood-smoked chicken thigh with grilled tomato, roasted garlic aioli and baby spinach on fresh baked bolillo roll) for $8.50.
▪ The Grill: Sections 114 & 129. Added loaded waffle fries.
▪ KC Steak: Section 118. Added the Steak Ribeye Sandwich (on brioche bun, topped with caramelized onions, arugula and blue cheese) for $12.50 and the Ultimate Steak Chips (housemade potato chips topped with ribeye steak, warm blue cheese and caramelized onions).
▪ Champion Chips: Section 119. Added new authentic Mexican street tacos.
▪ Crafty Dogs: Section 119. Build-your-own hot dog with such choices as jalapeno cheddar hot dog, Chicago relish and whole grain mustard.
▪ The State Line Fare: Section 134. Hand-Battered Klement’s Corn Dog and a deep-fried bacon corn dog, as well as desserts like Blue’s Puppy Chow and funnel fries.