With a furious finish last night in the final 90 seconds of the game, the Blackhawks finished a historic run to win a second Stanley Cup in four years. But, if the unthinkable had happened and there would be a defining Game 7 tomorrow night, a Levy Restaurants army would have been poised and waiting to feed the Madhouse Faithful all 22,000 plus, if necessary. The staff at Levy has been working furiously throughout the playoffs – during the Red Wings and Rolling Stones concerts – a week straight of packed houses.
Before Game 5, I got a chance to see the calm before the storm. Chef Mike Arcomone and Milan Stojakovic, the Director of Operations for the UC, started me out in the Ketel One Club with the specials for the night – Ribeye with housemade Levy Steak Sauce and Potato Wedges and Blackened Salmon over Dirty Rice. Both would fit well on any steakhouse menu. They expected to do 35 steaks in the 200 covers they had pre-game. Their other focus outside of a great dining experience in the Ketel One Club is to get the fans out for the Anthem! No pressure…
From there, we worked our way through the back corridors of the UC seeing the frantic prep not only of the service staff but the media, and NHL staff, as well. Up in the Harris Club and the Theatre boxes, I got to witness a buffet fit for the Stanley Cup celebration. If you ever find your way in one of these swank spots, Hawks or Bulls – come hungry and save room for dessert, Oreo cupcakes!
Chef Mike and Milan also had me taste some new bites showcased throughout the concessions. Chef Mike said, “The shift is to have local places highlighted where we can throughout the stadium. Fans really like that.” That’s apparent with the Sweet Baby Ray’s ribs and pork. Chef’s team does all the smoking in house. I want to see that smoker! From hot dogs to specialty cocktails, they take care of everyone during game time even if the game goes three overtimes. The liquor may be turned off but the fans still want to eat – it’s the nerves according to Chef Mike.
The UC may be quieter than usual and the roars of the fans will be muted until September but Chef and Milan with their team are already planning for another year of feeding Bulls and Blackhawk fans. I can’t wait to see what they cook up.
Huge thanks to the Blackhawks for letting me come in before the game – and the joy you brought with another Cup win. Thank you for another great season of eating and the invite to tag along – to Chef Mike, Milan, the Levy team and the United Center. I salute you with a joyful Chef Mike, “Giddy-up!” That may sound a little more hoarse than usual after last night.
Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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