By John Denton Nov. 6, 2013
ORLANDO – Food fans undoubtedly have heard of the ``Tour of Italy,’’ a selection where various kinds of cheesy Italian foods are offered.
Similarly, Magic fans would be wise to familiarize themselves with the ``Tour of the Amway Center,’’ a state-of-the-art facility where traditional sports foods are starting to be overtaken by creative and tasty new food offerings.
The Amway Center recently unveiled revamped menus at restaurants such as Magic Grill, The Big Blue Taco, En Fuego, O-Town and Pinstripes. And while fans can still enjoy the traditional snacks of hot dogs, hamburgers and nachos, the Amway Center now has options for the more sophisticated palette. With the wide variety of new foods being offered throughout the 875,000 square-foot facility, fans can go on a culinary journey taking the ``Tour of the Amway Center.’’
``We have such a great variety of food here at Amway Center and we have a great culinary team. And Levy is such a great partner and they do a wonderful job of providing variety for both your premium customers and the general concessions,’’ said Charles Freeman, the Magic’s Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer. ``If (fans) can come out and experience it, I think they’ll see that we have the best food, or one of the top food offerings, in all of sports.’’
Executive Chef Javier Rosa was hired to inject some new flavors and creativity to the menus at the Amway Center. Some of the new fare includes pork belly sliders, blackened shrimp flatbreads, fish tacos, an En Fuego bowl loaded with flavor and shredded pork and loaded nachos topped with chicken braised on Mexican tinga sauce. Then, there’s the OMG Hot Dog, an all-beef frank that is wrapped with pastrami and smothered in cheese sauce, shoe-string potatoes and sauerkraut relish. It is an explosion of flavor that alerts the senses that this is no ordinary hot dog.
``We can have hot dogs, but I wanted to have a hot dog that made you say, `Oh my God!’’’ Chef Rosa said. ``I want people to go around town and say, `Have you had the OMG Hot Dogs at Magic games?’ When you take a bit of this hot dog, I’m hoping you say, `Oh my God, that’s the best hot dog that I’ve ever had.’’
One of Rosa’s new creations that is becoming increasingly popular with Magic fans is the ``Burger of the Night’’ option. When the Magic recently played the Brooklyn Nets – and won 107-86 in impressive fashion – several restaurants and concession stands at the Amway Center were offering ``Pepperoni Pizza Burger’’ that played off New York’s long love affair with pizza.
Next up on the menu for the ``Burger of the Night’’ as the Magic prepare to the face the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night: A ``Nacho Burger’’ that is loaded zesty beef, tortilla strips, melted cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, jalapenos and sour cream. Rosa said fans are enjoying the variety of burger selections based on the incoming Magic opponent.
``Our burgers are all fresh, never frozen and the best arena burgers in the business,’’ Rosa said. ``That pepperoni pizza burger was to die for. The concept of a themed burger is growing and I’m getting a lot of feedback from fans who love the idea.’’
Freeman said the idea of an expanded menu and creative new flavors is to give fans a wide variety of options to choose from. The Magic want to service the fan who simply wants a beer, hot dog and popcorn as well as being able to reach the one with the more sophisticated desires for exotic flavors and textures. One way of being able to do that is with the En Fuego Bowl, which features pork cooked more than 24 hours, and a variety of spices from pico de gallo, tomatillo cream, roasted corn and shredded cabbage.
The Amway Center was named ``Facility of the Year’’ in 2012 by Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, largely because it pays great attention to the needs and desires of the fans. It also earned TheStadiumBusiness Awards’ 2013 Customer Experience Award. The goal now is to continue to make the experience a legendary one for fans each time they attend Magic games or concerts. And that, of course, includes offering a diverse menu all around the Amway Center that is sure tickle the taste buds.
``As you have the stadium experience, you want the option to have a great meal also,’’ Freeman said. ``We’ve focused on the service levels here at the Amway Center, but we’ve also focused on the culinary experience. What we love about the Amway Center is that you can take a culinary journey as you go around the building. It’s just a great opportunity for fans to enjoy all of the great things on the menu that we have to offer.’’
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