Past the stands offering California wine and local charcuterie platters, you’ll find open kitchens at Levi’s Stadium slapping buttered sourdough bread on a flattop, an early step in creating a Bay Area specialty: the grilled Pacific crab sandwich. That’s the scene Centerplate, the concessionaire for Levi’s Stadium and thus Super Bowl 50, hopes to paint for hours on Sunday.
Preparing for the Super Bowl works different than any other regular-season 49ers game, Sal Ferrulo, executive vice president of Centerplate, tells SI.com. “The mindset shifts a little bit.”
With gates opening four hours before the game and the game itself taking longer than a traditional NFL Sunday, they plan to feed the roughly 75,000 fans two meals. To do so, Centerplate more than doubles staffing to about 1,300 employees and tweaks its menu.
In the general concession areas, menus will be trimmed by about 35 percent so they can have proper storage to keep up with the increased volume. In the suites and clubs, expect staged menus. One menu represents pre-game, another for the start of the game and a third at halftime, almost like a Super Bowl-themed tasting menu.
With so much time before the game Ferrulo knows fans will wander the stadium. “We have a lot of open kitchen space (at Levi’s Stadium), so it makes the food prep a lot of fun.”
While Levi’s Stadium will have its staples, expect a few new items too, all approved by the NFL in a process that started at the beginning of the season.
From the grilled crab on sourdough—the one item Ferrulo makes sure he’ll grab on Super Bowl Sunday—to new items, such as the Big 5-0 Sausage with a blend of 50 ingredients including beef, pork, spices and herbs all grilled and served on a poppy seed bun with sautéed bell peppers and topped with ketchup and gold flakes, Centerplate plans to celebrate local offerings.
The game will include a bay shrimp roll, California charcuterie plates (Saucisson sec, cabernet salami, prosciutto, coppa, duck-pork gallantine, assorted pickled vegetables, stone ground mustard, and sliced baguette) with an increased selection of local wines, a sourdough chowder “boule” new for the big game, a local farmstead cheese platter, lobster and truffle mac n’ cheese, carved beef tenderloin, a California artichokes display, barbecue jackfruit sandwich and, of course, the Bay Area’s well-loved garlic fries.
For those not taking in the sights, smells and tastes of Super Bowl 50, Centerplate has a way to create the feel of Levi’s Stadium in your own home with a pair of Super Bowl recipes from chef Santana Diaz.
2-2.5 lbs Hand-cut fries (keeping some skins on)
1/2 Cup Chopped Garlic
1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley (must be hand-chopped)
5-6 oz Olive Oil
1 TBsp Kosher Coarse Salt
1 TBsp Ground Pepper – Coarse
1. Fry French fries until golden brown.
2. Drain well of oil or blot on towels.
3. Combine olive oil, chopped garlic, and fresh parsley in a large mixing bowl.
4. Fold in the fries and toss until fries are well-coated.
5. Season with Kosher salt and coarse-ground pepper to taste.
6. Serve and enjoy.
BBQ JACKFRUIT SANDWICHES
Makes 6 Sandwiches
6 Plain Egg Buns
Apple Jalapeño Dressing, see below recipe
Cabbage, shredded with carrot – 18 oz
Jackfruit, fresh, cleaned, seeded – 30 oz
BBQ sauce, smoked – 15 oz
Vegetable stock – 8 oz
Tomato paste – 1 oz
Apple Jalapeño Dressing: makes 58 oz. Store remainder in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Vinegar apple cider – 6.5 oz
Applesauce, unsweetened – 25 oz
Dijon mustard - .8 oz
Dill weed, fine chopped - .8 oz
Kosher salt - .8 oz
Pepper jalapeño, fine chopped – 4 oz
Oil salad, canola – 20 oz
1. Toss cabbage, carrot with apple jalapeño dressing, check seasoning, set aide
2. Place jackfruit, smoked BBQ sauce, tomato paste and 4 oz of vegetable stock in an oven-proof saucepan, bring to a slow simmer, cover and braise in oven until jackfruit is tender. Add more stock if needed.
3. To build the sandwich, toast egg bun, place braised jackfruit on the bottom part of the bun, place cabbage slaw on top of jackfruit, half cover with top part of the bun.
4. Serve and enjoy!
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and technology for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.