Christian’s Sports Beat: The team behind the team
As many of you know, I participate in many team sports, such as running and soccer, and I understand the value of being a team member.
I recently got to see and experience up close and personal the team that works behind the Cincinnati Reds that makes everyone’s eating experience a fun one at the Great American Ball Park.
On any given day or night, there could be over 42,000 fans attending a Reds baseball game at GABP, and making sure everyone is enjoying their ballpark food is Manny Slomovits, the executive chef at the facility.
When walking around with Chef Manny before a recent game, I watched him talk to his frontline employees and was very impressed. “It’s a big operation and I have a great team,” the chef said. “I always say without a team behind me I am nothing. When it comes to food, my goal is not to micromanage the culinary team, but just to keep all of them moving in the right direction. I just want to give them confidence and the tools to succeed, give some direction and let the passion come. My style as an executive chef is to provide motivation and team building.”
If the first pitch of a game is at 1:10 p.m., Chef Manny gets to the stadium around 5 a.m., while some of his workers arrive as early as 11 p.m. the night before to start preparing.
I found out from Chef Manny that he didn’t start his current position until right before the 2017 baseball season began. This is after spending the last 14 years traveling around the world, working on luxury yachts and on remote islands. I had to know why he chose one of the finest ballparks in the league.
“I have always loved baseball,” he said, “but lost interest when the ballplayers went on strike in 1994 and stopped watching the sport. But Cincinnati drew me back, as I have family here, including a 107-year-old grandmother and my parents. I have bounced around long enough and I guess it’s just a mixture of being with family, loving food and loving baseball again.”
Chef Manny is employed by Delaware North Sportservice that handles the food and merchandise for the Cincinnati Reds and a number of other Major League ball clubs, including the Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox.
When the ballpark is full, that means there are a lot of hungry baseball fans in the stands. Chef Manny told me that is when it’s all hands-on deck. “It’s a complete hands-on effort by everyone here at the ballpark. It’s not just back-of-the-house culinary, but it’s everything from front to back, from the security guys making sure all our food deliveries get where they need to go, to folks that clear the tables. It’s non-stop for my team during those sold-out events. Most fans just don’t realize the time and effort behind feeding, but, at the end of the day, they don’t need to. It’s just up to us to make sure when someone bites into their hot dog, before the game or anytime during the game, everything is fresh and they are ready for another one off the grill.”
During a busy ballgame, Chef Manny estimates that they will cook over 10,000 hot dogs. Can you imagine all of those on your backyard grill?
At the end of my culinary tour, it dawned on me that it wasn’t just about the nine Reds players on the field, but also those 500 food employees at the Great American Ball Park that make sure everyone has an experience to remember.
Christian Deiss, 13, of Scott Depot is a student at Hurricane Middle School.