Published on December 25th, 2017 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
A Look Into What Fans Of The Dallas Cowboys Enjoyed For The Holidays At AT&T Stadium
Located in Arlington, Texas, AT&T Stadium is not only home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, but also many concerts and other major sporting events each year. Built in 2009, the stadium seats 80,000, yet can hold up to 105,000 people in its “standing room” set-up. AT&T Stadium is spread across over 70 acres of land and features the world’s 24th largest video screen.
When you are talking about that many people regularly coming to AT&T Stadium, you better have some excellent culinary options. Fortunately the food and beverages of AT&T Stadium — as overseen by hospitality leader Legends — are a top priority in Arlington. For Thanksgiving 2017, the Legends culinary team at AT&T Stadium created the Texas-Style Dressing Holiday Meal, as featuring a Texas-shaped waffle made from traditional stuffing, topped with homemade mashed potatoes, a choice of roasted turkey breast or Petit Jean smoked pit ham, fresh green beans, and homemade cranberry sauce. Legends and the Cowboys further show their culinary prowess with the newly-released 2017 Dallas Cowboys Family Cookbook, a special collection of favorites from players, coaches and the Jones family, as accompanied by personal profiles from the Cowboys team and organization; Chef Marcello Guevara, Executive Pastry Chef at AT&T Stadium, also contributed a Crème Brûlée Panna Cotta recipe. The Cookbook benefits Happy Hill Farm, a residential home and school that provides excellence in education for underprivileged youth, which includes The Dallas Cowboys Ed Block Courage House.
On behalf of The Hype Magazine, I had the pleasure of talking with Chef Tony Sinese, Executive Chef for AT&T Stadium, and George Wasai, the stadium’s Food & Beverage director who has been with the Dallas Cowboys for 20+ years. More on these folks and their food offerings can be found on the Legends website. More on AT&T Stadium is online at www.attstadium.com.
What is your favorite item on the AT&T Stadium menu? Or at least some of your favorite items?
George Wasai: My favorite item is our Cowboys Cheesesteak, which is a twist on the Philly cheesesteak as a part of a long-standing friendly rivalry. What’s different about the Cowboys Cheesesteak is Southwestern food tradition, with tender sirloin cut beef, topped with all-natural jalapeno jack cheese, sautéed onions on a fresh signature Hoagie roll. We definitely do not want to call anything “Philly” on our menu, so we added our Texas twist. (laughs)
Also, our Ultimate Nachos are the most popular item in the stadium. All the ingredients in the nachos were created by us, specifically to our taste profile. We are very proud to say that we have the best nachos in the country. When at a game, as you walk around, three out of five fans you see with food will have the Ultimate Nachos.
Chef Tony Sinese: Our brisket sandwich in the Stadium Club Bar and Grille. Our 16-hour house-smoked brisket, piquillo peppers, melted onions and cheddar. It is a redefined approach to Texas BBQ that will leave you thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” It’s THAT GOOD!
Another of my favorites is the Sweet Heat Sticky Wings, a special recipe we do for fans in Clubs and for events. Spicy, sweet and tons of fun to eat with your friends. Not your traditional wings that’s for sure!
Around the holiday season in December, pardon the pun, but a lot of chefs are out to lunch. Where did your inspiration come from to create new items for Christmas?
George Wasai: We are very fortunate that we work for an organization that takes pride in being a part of the holidays on so many levels. As we are a football team, we always have games going on during the holidays, and when fans come to the stadium they always expect us to have something innovative. I am very fortunate to work with a group of individuals that meet and exceed the challenge of thinking outside the box, and having fun with food that can be enjoyed by our fans.
Chef Tony Sinese: The holidays always remind me of being a kid and enjoying mom’s and grandmom’s home cooking. It was my first soul food as a kid and inspires me to re-think these creations to recreate the magic for our fans who are away from home.
Where did the idea for the Texas-Style Dressing Holiday Meal come from? Was that a group effort?
George Wasai: Yes, as we do everything else, this was a group effort. Every year we always have a holiday meal to offer the fans, this year I asked my team to think outside the box to do something different. We have a big fan favorite on the menu of the Texas Chicken & Waffle that we launched in 2014 when we hosted the NCAA Final Four Men’s Basketball Championship. The idea for the Holiday Meal was inspired from this dish. But there was no way I thought that we would use the traditional dressing and turn it into a Texas-shaped waffle and have it taste exceptionally good. With that amazing foundation, and all of the favorite elements of house-roasted turkey or Petit Jean-smoked pit ham, homemade mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and homemade cranberry sauce and turkey giblet gravy, we were honored that this was so well received by everyone, both locally and nationally. The biggest compliment was when our fans and guests raved about it during the game. Due to its being so well-received by our fans from the Thanksgiving game, we are excited to be serving the Texas-Style Dressing Holiday Meal again for the Christmas Eve game.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Chef Tony Sinese: Supporting our culinary team’s growth and our driving our fans’ dining experience with excellence!
George Wasai: As Director of Food and Beverage, this comes with a huge responsibility. But I wouldn’t be able to do my job if I didn’t have the talented group of individuals I have the privilege to work with every day. So the favorite part of my job is being able to work with the BEST team in the country — the F&B Powerhouse Team!
What was the first live event you ever attended at AT&T Stadium? Was it a Cowboys game?
George Wasai: On June 6, 2009, after 12 hours of gaining occupancy, we had our Opening Day at AT&T Stadium with the George Strait concert where we hosted over 65,000 people. That will always be a memorable day.
Chef Tony Sinese: I staged for a week with the culinary team at the then Cowboys Stadium — named AT&T Stadium in 2013 — during a Dallas Cowboys game. Working for the first time in a stadium was an amazing experience that was new to me.
Do you have a favorite player on the Cowboys?
George Wasai: My favorite Cowboys are: Erik Williams, Leon Lett, Troy Aikman, Daryl Johnston, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Robert Newhouse, and Tony Romo.
Chef Tony Sinese: Rowdy — he is always smiling and happy!
Is there an off-season for you? Or is it still busy when the Cowboys are not playing?
Chef Tony Sinese: We are always “on season” here at AT&T Stadium. We host many “off-season” stadium-wide events and many special event caterings year-round. Some of them we even host on the playing field!
George Wasai: It is still busy when the Cowboys are not playing. During that time is where we put our creative minds to use and prepare for the upcoming season. We also have major events all year round. We are looking forward to hosting the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium this coming year, also.
Do you ever collaborate with chefs from any of the other Legends Hospitality venues? Or is AT&T on its own culinary island?
George Wasai: AT&T Stadium, for the most part, does work within itself. But we have a lot of great chefs within all of the Legends properties, so there is also time where our chefs will share ideas.
Chef Tony Sinese: We are indeed a highly-collaborative team. Since we are centrally-located to the east and west coasts, AT&T Stadium becomes the perfect location and venue to share innovation and ideation. Also, as we work and partner locally with our community to promote and support awareness about food insecurity, we also work with our colleague chefs at all properties to help define the awareness of the culinary opportunities in non-traditional venues such as sports and entertainment.
When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?
George Wasai: Spending time with my wife and daughter, while trying to spend as much time fishing as I can —
when the wife lets me.
Chef Tony Sinese: Spending all of my time with my family. They are the center of my universe.
Other than AT&T Stadium, do you have a favorite restaurant in Dallas or the nearby area you can recommend?
George Wasai: Tupelo Honey in Frisco has recently become my favorite restaurant to go to.
Chef Tony Sinese: So many great choices that I cannot pick just one. My fave is to find a small fiercely-authentic place that creates and serves it as it was meant to be and I have to learn to understand the back story, philosophy and culture that brought it to life in order to appreciate it for whatever it is.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
George Wasai: I think it is very important that we all understand that food is about enjoyment. Don’t be afraid to put anything, food-related, together to your enjoyment. You’ll be surprised to see what that will turn into. Most of the great food that we all enjoy today started off out of necessity or just plain creativity. So, have fun, play with your food, and create something unique.
Chef Tony Sinese: Do you. Nobody else can do you like you. Make life happen.Tweet