By Mitchell Nover
Let’s be honest, not all foodies are “sporties.” In fact, some might argue that being a foodie is the antithesis of being a foodie, what with the non-stop gluttony and all. For me, that is not the case, however. I think food and sport go hand-in-hand, from snacks and dips and beer to, yes, even fine dining. That’s why I was excited when the Miami Open (now through April 1st) rolled back around this year and I received an invite to head over to Key Biscayne and check out the action. Not a match of tennis did I see, but I ate and drank to my heart’s content, and I’m here to tell you that there’s actually room for both. If you’re lucky enough to get to the Tennis Center at Crandon Park (7300 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne) for some of this year’s action, you’ll see there’s a plethora of great performances, on and off the court.
Concession highlights: As the official caterer of the Miami Open, Great Performances (see what I did there? orchestrates a food and beverage program for more than 350,000 people designed to appeal to various audiences (i.e. players, general public, sponsors, officials, and press) as well as appetites. From sophisticated fare for the luxury Stadium Suites, members only Collectors Club, and specialty lounges to made-to-order quick service causal cuisine at The Food Plaza eateries and grab-and-go-items from food trucks, carts, and concession stands, there’s literally something for everyone.
This year, the New York City based catering and food service company doubled down (I know, not a tennis term) on its commitment to seasonality and local ingredients, partnering with seven local Miami restaurants (like The Knife and Sushi Maki) and five area food trucks (like Moty’s Grill, King of Racks, and Killer Melts), as well as operating its own propriety concepts.
I’m a food truck lover, so that’s where I started… The Buffalo Melt from Killer Melts is like a Publix Chicken Tender Sub meets buffalo wings meets grilled cheese on steroids. It’s a mix of fried chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, blue cheese dressing, and melted pepper jack cheese on toasted country white bread, and it’s fire. From Moty’s, I went with the Rolling Pita Pocket with Falafel. Basically the best falafel I’ve ever had, no biggie. And, finally, what would a sporting event be without a good, old fashioned hot dog? Well, the Mama’s Beer Dog from King of Racks kicks it up about 27 notches with a 100% all beef hot dog boiled in beer and flash fried served on a toasted bun with grilled onions and saurkraut. Oh, and a side of seasoned fries.
The total program represents the purchase of 4.48 tons South Florida produce and some two tons of regional sourced fish, the creation of more than 400 jobs for Miami-Dade residents, the occupation of Miami hotels room nights for Great Performances staff and management and the generation of more than $5 million in revenue.
Standout dishes: Did someone say Moet & Chandon? Did someone say Ice Imperial Rosé? Did someone say, not yet available yet in stores? Well, ladies and gentlemen, there’s your standout. And, making it even better, a surprisingly perfect pairing with Rosé Roll from Sushi Maki. Designed specifically for the Moet & Chandon Lounge tent at the Miami Open, the roll brought shrimp spicy salmon, avocado, and tempura flakes, topped with salmon spicy mayo and ikura caviar. A true ace!
Mitch’s take: This is one of those events that can you might think can happen anywhere, but can only really happen in Miami. It’s a great blend of everything that makes Miami great. It’s over-the-top, but somehow feels authentic. There’s a local flare despite a ton of out-of-town influence, there’s an air of affluence, but also of aspiration and accessibility, and there’s good looking and fit people everywhere…and I’m not just talking about the tennis players. If you’re into tennis, the outdoors, good food and drink, and some great people watching, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket to the Miami Open and enjoy.
For more from my #MiamiOpenEats experience, check out the gallery below…