Joe Nader wants the city of Detroit to be showcased both on the gridiron and on the grill at Ford Field this NFL season. Nader is the executive chef of Levy Restaurants at Ford Field and strives to stay true to his mantra of having fun with food.
“We’ve kind of been beaten up over the years and we all want to support the city,” Nader said of both the team and stadium’s local fare.
The team is currently 5-1 — an impressive feat considering its misfortune in recent years. Here’s a look at what’s new this season in the stadium, what Detroit classics are being offered up, and some of Nader’s predictions for the Lions. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Kevin.Ward)
Extreme Loaded Dogs is new to Ford Field this year. It’s a Levy concept that has been launched by the company at various sites, but Ford Field is the first NFL stadium to get “loaded.”
“It’s the fan-favorite hot dog, but we gave it quirky toppings and are having fun with the food,” Nader said. “They’re not a huge culinary departure, but we want to recognize the fun stuff too.”
“The Heater” — This dog is chef Nader’s proclaimed favorite. It’s dipped in Frank’s Red Hot hot sauce and topped with bleu cheese coleslaw.
“Nacho-Yo Dog” — It’s a marriage between two stadium favorites: the hot dog and nachos.
“The Burger Dog” — In another stadium-food twist, this dog is essentially a hamburger in the shape of a hot dog with ketchup, mustard, and pickles.
“Frito Pie Dog” — The ugly duckling of sorts serves up the comforts of chili, cheddar cheese, and Fritos in a bun.
“Hometown Dog” (pictured) — It’s a true-to-form Coney dog, which is what Nader, a Detroit-area native, considers to be Detroit’s chief culinary contribution.
“If you were to ask what the big Detroit famous food is, it’d be the Coney dog,” Nader said. “You don’t get a Coney dog anywhere else in the country the way we do it with the Coney sauce, bean-less chili, mustard, and onions.” (Photo courtesy of Kat Nguyen)
He wants to make sure that food is prepared in line with the dietary needs of fans, which is why a kosher stand is also in the works. Fan demand has also pushed Nader to provide menus that have items “you would never see at a stadium.”
“Levy has pushed the limits as far as that goes because we look at this from a restaurateur point of view versus a concessionaire point of view,” Nader said. “It’s a restaurant, not a concession stand.”
Taste Revolution is a global street food stand that blends menu items that are strictly Detroit with international treats to tempt discerning palettes. Items include lamb and chicken gyros, and chicken and beef satay skewers. Meat on a stick, after all, is universal.
One thing that was deemed unpopular amongst Lions fans? Tofu.
By Kay Nguyen