I believe. I believe that. I believe that you will eat. Sporting Kansas City’s home opener is tomorrow and with a new season comes new stadium food. The Recommended Daily chatted with Harry Smith, the food and beverage director for KC American Sportservice — the concessionaire at Sporting Park — to find out about the arrivals off the field.
The most daring addition will be meat pies ($8) — a staple in the United Kingdom and at soccer matches — that have familiar flavors in a slightly unfamiliar form.
“I fell in love with them at Wembley Stadium when I took at trip to London. Everyone is just walking down the concourse with a beer in one hand and a meat pie in the other,” Smith says. “I knew this was something I wanted to bring back. The park here is inspired by European soccer stadiums and I thought this would be perfect for here.”
The meat pies are a flaky pastry crust stuffed with beef, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions and tomatoes. Smith wouldn’t give up the whole recipe, but did say they’re spicing the pies with cumin, chili powder, black pepper and “a fair bit of garlic.” It’s almost a walking stew.
Once Smith knew he wanted to add the meat pies to the menu, he ordered pie tins and began to search for the flavors and experience he had in the stands at London. After more than 30 iterations, he’s found the one they’re ready to serve on Wednesday.
“The first one was about a pound. It only looked a bit big, but you could barely lift the thing,” Smith says. “These actually fit in your hand.”
While the meat pies will debut as something more akin to Cornish pasties (think British empanada), Smith hopes to transition the recipe to the more traditional circular pie about the size of a large muffin without the top. And if they catch on, he’s even thought about adding a vegetarian pie or one stuffed with buffalo chicken.
“I think it will take a bit of convincing,” Smith says. “But meat pies are basic food for a soccer game. That’s why they’ll be right there with the hot dogs and nachos.”
A few of the other new items find their origin on this side of the pond. The chicken tenders will now be hand-breaded and the grilled cheese made with Meunster and sharp cheddar with applewood smoked bacon and grilled tomatoes is going to be served on Farm to Market sourdough. At the cantina food stand, they’ll be serving carnitas, carne asada and chipotle chicken, which diners can dress up with marinated red onions, cilantro, jalapenos and house red or green salsa. Smith has also made the decision to have a sous chef oversee the concessions to monitor the food quality.
“We have a championship team. We want to raise the bar in the stands and do things you’re not used to seeing in concessions,” Smith says.
As for bar snacks, Sporting Park will have spicy and regular beef jerky as well as fried hominy dusted with habanero powder. The club’s signature drink, Blue Hell Lemonade (Blue Curacao, vodka and lemonade) will be available around the entire stadium after debuting in The Cauldron three years ago. And Sporting Park now has 12 taps on its tap stand — located in the center of the concourse — with Miller, Coors and Boulevard on draft.
“I want to surprise people and I want them to come away thinking there’s great food at the stadium,” Smith says.[Images via KC American Sportservice]