MINNEAPOLIS – On Thursday, the first aromas of the Vikings 2021 regular season flooded the Medtronic Club at US Bank Stadium.
Delicious samples prepared by local vendors and food and beverage partner Aramark followed.
So are the stories of inspiring entrepreneurs, like Robert Grace of Be Graceful, Darin and Tonja Kjaer of Curds & Cakes and Tina Rexing of T-Rex Cookie, who have enriched the catering program since the opening of the US Bank Stadium in 2016 – and enjoyed benefits for their businesses.
Others like Mohamed Omer from Nashville Coop, Mike DeCamp from Parlor Bar and the Love You Cookie teams (we spoke with COO Octavia Treadway) and Original Hockey Mom Brownies (we spoke with Patti, the head baker) were are preparing for their first regular season game.
“Aramark is excited to announce the details of its reimagined food and beverage program at US Bank Stadium,” said Aramark CEO Jenifer Freeman. “The stadium’s new menu features more local fare than ever before and is sure to provide a fresh and elevated dining experience for Viking fans this season.”
While the Vikings-Seahawks Week 3 contest kicks off at 3:25 p.m., the above food vendors and others will be in the building a few hours early. They expressed their excitement and anticipation of fans returning to Viking football.
The same goes for Vikings COO Andrew Miller.
“Sunday’s game will mark the first time Vikings fans have attended a regular season game at US Bank Stadium in nearly two years,” said Miller. “A crucial part of creating a memorable comeback and a first-class fan experience revolves around the catering program. We are proud to unveil new Vikings partners and the many great local restaurants we will be featuring during our games. “
Here’s a recap of what was sampled for members of the media along with some stories from the food designers (I wish I had had more capacity, or at least had prepared so many mouthwatering items by doing a long run before the event. ). The items are listed in the order I tried them.
Full disclosure, I love the food – from cooking to dinner – but I’m no expert.
Stadium location: FMP Club
I’m originally from Middle Tennessee so it was interesting to see “Nashville Hot” making its way from coast to coast to eateries and eateries driving. I didn’t try it until 2012 or 2013 while still living in Nashville. That day I went with what was half the hottest on offer. He scalded the inside of my mouth as if I had just drunk a pot of boiling water.
I’m no spice wimp, but I’ve generally avoided it ever since. When I saw that Nashville Coop was new to the FMP Club stadium, I chose to start my sampling with the business launched in St. Paul in 2020. Omer and his wife, Nasra, offer three levels of spices. : Minnesota Nice, Coop and Cluckin ‘.
The first two were presented for sampling, and I opted for Coop after Kamal Mohamed and Arif Mohamed explained their confidence that the flavor, which includes Ethiopian spices roasted in-house by Coop, would be on the palate first. and followed by a hint of heat.
They were precise. The seasoning was fantastic and tasty. The heat was well balanced by the tenderness of the chicken and the Coop sauce.
Minneapolis and St. Paul
Stadium location: Polaris Club (inside) and Delta Vikings Village (outside the stadium – no match ticket required)
I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Parlor Bar, but never have been. The double cheeseburger, with American and Swiss cheese and two patties that was offered on Thursday is quite the carnivorous lure. The cheese was good and gooey, and the burger patties were cooked just the way I like them.
DeCamp is looking forward to its first season at US Bank Stadium to help grow the famous cocktail bar brand. What he likes most is that in addition to the Polaris Club, he also has an off-stadium placement in the Delta Vikings Village, which is open to fans with or without tickets to the game.
Edina, Minneapolis, St. Paul
Stadium location: Sections 122 on the main hall and 328 on the upper hall
I first met Grace a few years ago at a similar sampling event. His turkey sandwich that day was the best I have ever had and I built the confidence that when I saw he was offering an impossible vegan Sloppy Joe, I gave him a whirl.
Grace said Impossible is a good place to start, but then Be Graceful takes it to the next level with a special overnight seasoning highlighted with onions, garlic and gravy.
On top of that, Be Graceful has previously featured a French Portobello dip that was very popular in preseason games, and will offer a falafel pita and turkey sandwich.
Curds & Cakes
Foreston / Foley
Stadium location: Sections 114, 129, 143 and 310 (also sold at the First and Fry store at 336)
It’s a big weekend for Curds & Cakes, a mainstay of several sporting venues in the city. They’ll personally drive a refrigerated truck to Ellsworth, Wisconsin to pick up fresh cheese and expect to run 2,000 pounds of cheese. One spot can do this by using a cheese ice cream scoop before dipping into a signature batter. Darin Kjaer wanted to create larger curds to reduce the risk of hot oil burns.
Curds & Cakes has been a part of the stadium menu from the start, along with the two seasons the Vikings played at the University of Minnesota. They have expanded to four booths this year and will have 58 employees. Tonja Kjaer is able to recruit groups like wrestling and volleyball teams and Lions Club members who work on the games as fundraisers to meet demand.
I love you cookie
Available at Twin Cities retailers (including Hy-Vee)
Stadium location: Article 347
Treadway greeted me with a smile and the short but interesting story of Love You Cookie, which launched in 2020.
Sarah Brima, a speech-language pathologist by trade, started baking cookies in her personal kitchen, and rumor has it that chocolate chip and cashew cookies have been sampled and delicious.
Brima also makes double chocolate peanut butter cookies and mound confetti cakes. Her husband, Sahr is a lawyer who is now CEO of Love You Cookie. The Brimas and Treadway go to church together, and Treadway has joined the group as COO of Love You Cookie.
“It’s a good balance, saving souls and selling cookies,” Treadway smiles.
Available at Twin Cities retailers (including Hy-Vee)
Stadium location: Article 336, Clubs and suites
After quitting a corporate job to return to her old roots as a competitive pastry chef, Rexing has never looked back.
Rexing, who has small T-Rex key chains and accented her display with small toy dinosaurs, appeared on “Shark Tank” and traveled to Singapore to help start another cookie business. Its Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Chips were ranked No.1 in America in 2017.
I opted for the Caramel Cookies & Cream and I recommend it.
The only concern expressed by Rexing was to ensure that it has sufficient staff.
Remember, be nice to the salespeople and try to be patient, especially in the first regular season game in so long. Second reminder: US Bank Stadium will be cashless this year, so please plan accordingly.
Original Hockey Mom Brownies
Stadium location: Articles 111 and 360
When I approached the counter, Patti invited me to try a sample of an S’mores brownie and she revealed a little secret to me.
As the brownie was melting, Patti told me it was gluten free. I’ll tell you, it was delicious and it’s one of two gluten-free (the other chocolate) flavors on offer. Original Hockey Mom Brownies have selected seven of their following 60 traditional flavors to offer in their first season at US Bank Stadium: Salted Caramel, Salted Caramel Brookie Paste, Apple Crisp, Cookies & Cream, s’mores, Chocolate Mint and chocolate.
The name of this company is also its origin story.
When Patti’s son, who markets brownies, was playing bantam hockey, Patti made star-shaped brownies for his all-star team to take a bus from Andover to Chanhassen.
The brownies did not freeze, which is very popular during the hockey season.
What started as a way to support the team from a kitchen has evolved into a manufacturing site on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.
Patti, wearing a Vikings No. 13 with Hockey Mom on the nameplate, said it remains important to connect with every customer. It is truly a family business for a group that designates its clients as members of its team. Andrew wore a Vikings No. 23 with “Dream Chaser” on the nameplate. Her sister works in an administrative role, and Patti’s husband makes sure their bakery machines are running.