Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
‘Chef ’s Garden’ at Miller Park helps feed players
Tomatoes, chard, corn show up in clubhouse
It’s been a great growing season for the Chef’s Garden at Miller Park — especially for the tomatoes.
Chef Seth VanderLaan has four varieties in two modest plots behind a screened fence along the walkway near centerfield.
“The plum tomatoes — those were phenomenal,” he said during a visit this week. “The brandywine tomatoes are just exploding.”
VanderLaan uses produce from the gardens for meals served in the player clubhouse and to accent items like pico de gallo found in the Miller Park concession stands.
It’s a small part of his broader efforts to bring sustainability practices to the home of the Milwaukee Brewers. VanderLaan believes it’s connecting with fans and players.
Although VanderLaan has engaged in a summer-long battle with hungry rabbits, he’s had success with sweet corn and also Swiss chard.
VanderLaan says he likes to saute chard in a hot skillet with some olive oil, salt and pepper and finish it off with a touch of butter.
“I don’t mind if the greens have a little bit of ‘toothiness’, a little bit of chew,” said VanderLaan, who works for Delaware North, the company with the stadium concessions contract.
One challenge is keeping up the garden when the Brewers are on the road and Miller Park is quiet. Such was the case last week.
“I’m going to be out here for about an hour tomorrow picking cherry tomatoes,” VanderLaan said.
Probably the biggest hit in the team clubhouse this summer has been a caprese panini made with fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil and a touch of balsamic reduction on ciabatta bread, VanderLaan said.
“The players like that they can grab them and go,” he said.
He said players pop into the garden occasionally. Pitcher Cory Knebel stopped in frequently and often left with a couple of ripe tomatoes.
“This garden is functional,” VanderLaan said. “It doesn’t look the greatest at times but we really get the use out of it.”