"Concessions just don't have to be hotdogs and nachos. I'm trying to come up with something that's just one step above that."
That was Erin Stevens, the head chef from Levy Restaurants at MAPFRE Stadium. She became a part of the Crew SC family a year ago when the Black & Gold announced a partnership with Levy to handle the food distribution in the stadium.
In year one, Levy and Stevens brought a local feel to MAPFRE Stadium that went along with the team's effort to connect more with the city of Columbus.
Levy is back again in 2016 and, like the Black & Gold, looking to improve on the success of last season.
"The feedback was great and we just wanted to take it one step further this year," Stevens said on Wednesday.
Levy will return with all of the exciting food from last year including Schmidt's Sausage Haus, Jeni's Ice Cream, and Hot Chicken Takeover.
"Columbus is a city that very much loves its city, so I try to reach out to the local places and come up with local ideas using the local foods," Stevens explained. "We use Schmidt's and then Hot Chicken Takeover, I actually use their chicken to make a slider for the suites. We have a taste of Columbus package in the suites and it's food from different restaurants in the city. I came up with an ice cream sandwich made out of Buckeye Donuts and Jeni's Ice Cream (???!!!). Just trying to take what's in the city and use it to come up with [new ideas]."
If Levy and Stevens brought their A-game a year ago, the company is coming with an A+ attitude this season.
According to Stevens, the biggest addition this year is a new bratwurst.
"We've changed our brat to the Shock Top brat," she said. "We've partnered with Anheuser-Busch to come up with a brat. We have a spicy one and a normal one."
There will also be a new barbeque stand with in-house smoked meats. That location will feature a pork sandwich and a pork nacho.
As for beer, there will be plenty of exciting options.
"We have partnered with Great Lakes this year and then Land Grant is coming back again and Barley's and we're going to do the craft beers again this year," Stevens told Massive Report.
My favorite new feature is a carving cart that will sit out in the entrance plaza of MAPFRE Stadium before every game. This will not only feature fresh-carved meat, but also a food from the visiting team's city for Columbus fans to sample.
At Wednesday's Crew SC Media Day, Chef Stevens had plenty of the food that will be served at home matches on hand. As was the case last year, the food was fantastic!
There was too much good food to try it all, but I did my best.
Of course I went for the Hot Chicken Takeover first. Although I've had it multiple times, it's too good to pass up. They also had the macaroni and cheese available, a food near and dear to my heart, so I scooped up some of that.
I had one of the brats, the not spicy one because I'm a wuss, a baked potato with more macaroni and cheese in it, and a cookie that was literally bigger than my head. I also sampled some of the pulled pork.
The one thing I can say is that fans may be excited to watch Kei Kamara score goals or Steve Clark make saves, or Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain make extraordinary passes, but what your should be excited for most at MAPFRE Stadium is the food.
Once again, Levy is doing a great job and Stevens is adding to it this year, which will make home Crew SC games that much more enjoyable for those in attendance.