by Justin DeMarco
If you’re one of those people who has a hard time deciding what you’re going to order when you go out to eat, your head’s going to be spinning when you see the variety of food at the US Open. As soon as you enter the Food Village at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center be prepared to immediately become overwhelmed. The choices seemed endless as I struggled to figure out what my taste buds craved.
Did I feel like Mexican, Italian, Indian, Chinese, or Japanese food? I could go the burrito, pizza, chicken tikka, vegetable fried rice, or sushi route. Maybe I’d have a pastrami sandwich from the Carnegie Deli or Texas Beef Brisket from the Southern Barbecue place though. Then I saw Fulton Seafood and realized I’ve never eaten seafood at any sporting event I’ve ever attended. I quickly glanced at the menu and walked away when I saw the Cold Maine Lobster Roll cost $17.50. I continued walking until I came to Sweet and Savory Crepes. I considered trying the strawberries and Nutella crepe until I realized I’d sound like a fool when it came time to order – “Un Plaisir.” How do you pronounce that again?
With about 40 countries represented by the athletes in this year’s US Open, as well as tourists and New Yorkers with many different ethnicities, the wide range of food selections made sense. The only downside was that it complicated my lunchtime decision making process. It didn’t help that I had no specific type of food in mind before my stomach started growling either.
I scratched my head and checked out all of the options one more time so I wouldn’t have buyer’s remorse. I started at New Delhi Spice, the first food stand on the left if your back is to the Grey Goose Bar and Arthur Ashe Stadium, and spoke with the owner, Christopher Barretto, who also owns Curry & Curry and Curry Kitchen in Manhattan.
Barretto, who is working at the US Open for the fifth time, said he usually sells about 1,000 meals on a slow day and close to 3,000 on a busy one. After I heard that, I worried no more. I knew my one meal wasn’t going to make or break anyone’s business, but I was curious as to how they could produce such a large quantity of food at one time.
“We do the cooking in the main kitchen and use food warmers,” Barretto said, sharing his efficiency secrets. “We also have three runners who transfer the food back and forth. Our goal is to make sure we serve everyone as quickly as possible so there isn’t a long line.”
Inspired by the productivity of Barretto and the other US Open food vendors, I knew I had to step up my game and finally make a decision. As tasty as the pulled barbecue pork sandwich, shrimp and lobster salad, corned beef, and Szechuan stir fry sounded, I chickened out. Literally. I ordered my go to stadium food – chicken tenders with waffle fries. The most American choice I could think of at that moment. After all, it is the US Open.
Been out to the Open? What did you eat? Let us know below.