Locally Sourced Chili Means Big Per Caps for Super Bowl XLVI

Centerplate teams with Farm Aid to provide regional cuisine for championship game

  • by Linda Domingo
  • Published: February 15, 2012


Green pork chili, made with hormone and antibiotic free pork from Stanley and Evan Hall of Hall Farms in Paoli, Ind.

Centerplate, food and beverage provider at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, reported that the 68,658 fans at Super Bowl XLVI there averaged an $88.44 per cap on food and beverage Feb. 5.

“While we’re extremely happy with these sales figures, we’re proudest of the total fan experience we provided at the Super Bowl – a true taste of the Heartland that helped make this game a once-in-a-life-time experience for fans,” said Centerplate CMO Bob Pascal. “The fact that we achieved these sales figures, while at the same time reducing prices on several key menu items, shows the incredible level of fan engagement we achieved through our hospitality program.” Centerplate also helped nonprofit groups raise over $150,000 through volunteer efforts at the game.

Signature food items at the Super Bowl included a pork tenderloin sandwich, shrimp cocktail, braised buffalo short ribs, and a Homegrown vegetarian white chili, which was the first organic concession item ever served at the Super Bowl. Centerplate will also serve as the hospitality partner to Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans in 2013. In 2012, the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots, 21-17.

At this year’s Super Bowl, Centerplate partnered with Farm Aid, a nonprofit organization created by John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, and Neil Young that promotes purchasing from family farms.  Centerplate, with the help of Farm Aid, locally sourced ingredients for three flavors of chili featured at the event, and promoted the local, sustainable, family-owned farms through signage around the stadium.

Pascal explained that a month before the Super Bowl, Centerplate had most of its plans finalized, but wanted to add another aspect to make the experience more memorable. The team began considering working with a celebrity from Indiana. “In an ‘a-ha moment,’ we thought about John Mellencamp and his relationship with Farm Aid,” said Pascal. Centerplate then reached out to the organization, who, he said, were as passionate and excited about the project as Centerplate. “Really, within a month, we went from the idea to actually serving food at the Super Bowl,” said Pascal.

Centerplate decided to work with local farmers to create three flavors of chili, which were already on the menu before the partnership was forged with Farm Aid. They felt that because the weather was going to be cold and the dish was tailgate appropriate, it was the perfect item to feature and locally source.

“We didn’t want to do something like a microgreen salad,” said Pascal. “In some ways it would be easier to source, but it wouldn’t have that broader football appeal.” The three flavors of chili, which Centerplate and Farm Aid named “Homegrown” chili, were red beef chili, made with hormone and antibiotic free beef from Patty Reding of Langeland Farms in Greensburg, Ind.; green pork chili, made with hormone and antibiotic free pork from Stanley and Evan Hall of Hall Farms in Paoli, Ind.; and organic vegetarian white chili, made with organic beans from the Fields of Agape Cooperative in Carthage, Ind.

According to Centerplate, the three chili dishes are the first dishes ever offered at the Super Bowl that were sourced exclusively from local family-owned farms. The vegetarian chili was also made with USDA-certified organic onions, celery, garlic, carrots, peppers and oil, making it the first organic concession dish ever served at the Super Bowl. Each serving was $8.

Signage recognizing the Indiana farmers was displayed inside Lucas Oil Stadium, and Centerplate donated $2 from each bowl of chili sold to Farm Aid. Pascal said the final donation to the organization was $4,000. While the cost to purchase ingredients from local farms was higher than buying ingredients without taking sourcing into consideration, Centerplate found that the cost was still in the relevant range, and did not need to adjust its retail prices. “[Organic and locally sourced foods are] just a part of the continuing trends we’re seeing towards a greater awareness and interest on behalf of Americans in general in what they are eating, where it is from and the story of the chef it’s prepared by,” said Pascal. “In our relationship with Farm Aid, we were really able to take, in some respects, what we were doing to the ultimate level.”

The senior chef at the Super Bowl was Chef Orlando Morales, who has now overseen three Super Bowls. Centerplate also brought in 40 chefs and culinary personnel, and had 4,500  employees total. In addition to the chilis, Super Bowl attendees on the main concourse were offered fried pork tenderloin sandwich, home-style pot roast sandwich, and shrimp cocktail, among other items.

“Indianapolis is known, interestingly enough, for a shrimp cocktail with a very spicy cocktail sauce,” said Pascal. The cocktail sauce included fresh horseradish root. In the suites, Centerplate served braised buffalo short ribs, a locally-sourced vegetable medley, and chicken pot pie. 

Pascal sees the partnership between Centerplate and Farm Aid growing in the future. “We were really pleased and excited with the relationship, so we are actively working with them to see how we can roll this out more broadly in our operations.” The organizations are currently exploring offering Homegrown menu items in more Centerplate venues across the country. Centerplate, will serve as the hospitality partner to Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome in 2013.

Interviewed for this article: Bob Pascal, (203) 975-5943

  • by Linda Domingo
  • Published: February 15, 2012