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Alex Guarnaschelli on What to Eat and Drink at the US Open
The celebrity chef will also co-host the grand slam culinary event, Flavors of the Open
It’s that time of year again when tennis lovers gather in New York City for the US Open.
This year, a staggering 700,000 fans are expected to visit the grand slam tournament, which runs from August 28 through September 10.
The US Open will celebrate 50 years of awarding equal prize money for men and women competitors, commemorating when Billie Jean King demanded that men and women receive the exact same prize money after winning the women’s singles title in 1972. In 1973, both men and women competed at the US Open for the same $25,000 prize to both the men’s and women’s singles champions.
And, while tennis is still the ultimate reason why hundreds of thousands of fans make the trip to Queens, New York, food and drink also play a major factor in the total experience.
During the US Open, executive chef Jim Abbey and his culinary team of 250 people will prepare food and drink at seven different restaurants and 60 concession stands to serve mind-boggling amounts of food including:
7.5 tons of crab, shrimp, and lobster
225,000 hot dogs and hamburgers
90,000 pounds of beef
85,000 pounds of chicken
12.5 tons of lettuce
7,000 specialty tennis cookies
Several celebrity chefs will also take part in the US Open, offering bespoke pop-up food and beverage concepts at the grounds including Fare by Alex Guarnaschelli, ACES by Ed Brown and Masaharu Morimoto, Melba’s by Melba Wilson, Crown Shy by Jamal “James” Kent, Mojito by David Burke, and Fly Fish by Josh Capon. In addition, Pat LeFrieda Meat Company will present a signature steak sandwich, available at several locations throughout the grounds.
To give eventgoers a taste of things to come, the US Open will host “Flavors of the Open” on Thursday, August 24 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Ticket holders will be treated to bites from Kwame Onwuachi, Melba Wilson, James Kent, Alex Guarnaschelli, Masahuru Morimoto, David Burke, and Pat LaFrieda. Guests will also enjoy the U.S. Open’s signature Grey Goose Honey Deuce cocktail. Tickets cost $175 and can be purchased here. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the USTA Foundation, bringing tennis education programs to under-resourced communities.
Broken Palate caught up with Alex Guarnaschelli to chat about how to prepare a menu for hundreds of thousands of fans, tennis, and her favorite last meal of summer.
Broken Palate: The US Open is obviously the country’s premier tennis tournament, but it's also a place where people just go for the food and drink and enjoy the grounds. It's very social. What is the decision to host a pop-up at the Open? And how do you create a menu?
Alex Guarnaschelli: I think it's important for chefs to keep in mind that this is one of the most elite sporting events of the year. It's a time when great food should serve a greater purpose of matching the athletes and the level of competition. It's also hot! It's great when there are some comfort food dishes mixed with lighter fare that matches the heat of the stadium!
BP: I think the US Open was a catalyst for good food being served at tournaments, sporting events. What role do you think food plays in a whole experience at events?
AG: I think when you are exhilarated, watching a great athlete or a fabulous performer you want that high of the great moment to continue onto the meal. Flavorful drinks, refreshing first courses, super tasty entrées, and indulgent desserts are just what I see for an event like this. Food should just add to the momentum of a great day.
BP: What can people expect at Flavors of the Open? And what can they expect at "Fare by Alex Guarnaschelli"
AG: I'm very excited to be a part of the squad of chefs at this year’s Flavors Of The Open on August 24th – it’s truly one of my favorite food events of the year. We have an exceptional group of chefs all in one iconic stadium, serving up their signature dishes at the Open - Kwame Onwuachi, Melba Wilson, Masaharu Morimoto, James Kent, Josh Capon, David Burke, and Pat LaFrieda
Fare is a restaurant that seeks to combine Italian classics with Americana. We source ingredients from Dipalo's and Ferrara in Manhattan's Little Italy with the hope of giving such a global audience a taste of true New York. We want people to feel welcome and go to the restaurant to take a break and relax!
BP: Are you a tennis fan? Will we see you and Ava at the Open?
AG: I am a tennis fan. I love to play because it looks so easy and it's actually very difficult. I definitely hope to catch one of the matches.
BP: The US Open for many New Yorkers, signifies the winding down of summer -- do you have a favorite end-of-summer meal for spending the last few warm nights with family and friends?
AG: My favorite end-of-summer meal is the same every year: I make a huge batch of my mother's barbecue sauce and do barbecue and grilled chicken drumsticks. I pair it with a giant platter of steaming, hot corn with spicy salted butter on the side. Stack of napkins. Ice cold, cheap sparkling wine. Great friends.