In their continuing quest to offer baseball fans more to eat than hot dogs and nachos (not that there’s anything wrong with them), the Houston Astros are always introducing new menu items at Minute Maid Park. Although it will be hard to top last year’s smash success of a chicken and waffle cone that rung up 20,000 units in sales, the team has turned to a celebrity chef to keep diners coming back for more.
That chef is none other than Andrew Zimmern, the author and TV host of Travel Channel programs in the Bizarre Foods series including Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Bizarre Foods America, and the recently introduced Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations. In 2012, Zimmern began serving ballpark concessions in his native Minneapolis via his AZ Canteen brand, and now Houstonians get to taste what Minnesotans have been raving about.
Available at the FiveSeven Grille and the Street Eats concessions in sections 126 and 409, the team will roll out to two of Zimmern’s dishes over the course of the season. The first is a battered, fried Korean pork belly sandwich that balances out its gochujang heat with a slice of sweet grilled pineapple. A lamb burrito is waiting in the proverbial culinary bullpen and will roll out later this season to give fans something new to try.
Of course, the club is no stranger to celebrity chef partnerships; Minute Maid already offers food from Reef chef/owner Bryan Caswell via Little Bigs sliders and El Real tacos. Aramark district manager Mat Drain tells CultureMap that fans like “the comfort of something they know from outside” available in the stadium, and he thinks they’ll be intrigued by Zimmern’s offerings.
“You see a lot of the things that he does on TV, but you wonder, what does he cook? What does his food taste like that? I think it will bring an attraction to what people want to see at the ballpark," Drain says.
Of course, the club is also rolling out some other new items like street tacos, a hand-battered corn dog, and a Nolan Ryan branded jalapeno-cheese hot dog, but they're mostly variations on conventional ballpark fare. The two Zimmern-branded items are definitely something different and should tempt people who might have otherwise dined outside the stadium.