Not only will the new Vikings stadium be a dazzling sight to behold, it will also offer superior stadium fare. Food vendor behemoth Aramark has partnered with Andrew Zimmern to create an inspired menu for fans interested in more than heat-lamped hot dogs and ersatz nacho cheese.
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"[Aramark] is the Rolls Royce of [food vending] companies," says the James Beard Award-winning television personality and chef. "It's part of a larger move for me to get back to what I really love, which is feeding people."
Traditionalists can relax: The new stadium is going to have frankfurters, just not the questionably sourced, mystery meat ones that have tarnished the brand. "We've got a killer hot dog," says Zimmern, a vocal fan of the finer tubed meats. He has teamed with celebrity butcher Pat LaFrieda to produce a line of tasty sausages, including a hot dog.
Fans can also expect to find the sort of chef-driven, stands-friendly dishes we've come to expect from Zimmern's food truck, AZ Canteen. Imagine celebrating touchdowns by chowing down on the cabrito burger, made with goat meat, roasted tomatoes, and caramelized onions, or relaxing at halftime with a beautiful green papaya salad.
"It's a state-of-the-art facility that will be filled with the coolest food products of any stadium, anywhere," says Zimmern, who will curate a food court in addition to helping create the menu for inside the suites.
Sports fans won't have to wait until the Vikings stadium is finished in 2016 to get their paws on some of Zimmern's culinary creations, however. His deal with Aramark not only includes working on several concepts inside the stadium, but also involves serving food when the Vikings take up residence inside TCF Stadium. Whether that partnership will continue after the Vikings leave or if it involves serving food while the Gophers are playing, Zimmern couldn't say. But we do know that when the Twins return to Target Field, so will the AZ Canteen concept, straight from his food truck of the same name.
"We will be greatly expanding our beverage and food items," Zimmern says. How exactly? That announcement will come soon from Target Field as they ramp up for the season.
All this talk made us wonder when we could expect to see the bright yellow AZ Canteen truck on the streets again. We reached out to Zimmern's business partner and president of the Minnesota Food Truck Association, John C. Levy. "Early to mid-April," Levy says, "depending on how the weather is doing." If you don't want to buy a Twins ticket just to get your hands on a Zimmern-approved frank, Levy assured us the truck itself will feature a "monster hot dog" this spring. We know what we're ordering first.
With all these irons in the fire, Zimmern is nevertheless planning to keep his television presence in high gear. "I'll still be doing the TV thing 10 years down the line," he says. "[But] I'm thrilled to get back into cooking. I've always believed in growing where you're planted."