Entertaining: How to serve up a World Series party

We talked to Great American Ball Park’s chef

With the World Series beginning tonight, it’s time to start gearing up to make party plans for a grand slam event that family and friends will be buzzing about.

The Cincinnati Reds missed a shot at the championship this year, but they still know how to host a great party.

Doing a wide variety of food for a stadium that seats more than 42,000 people, serving up everything from hot dogs to fine dining is no small task. It falls to Great American Ball Park Executive Chef James D. Major.

Formerly the executive chef for the Cleveland Indians, James, who graduated from The Culinary Institute of America, came to Cincinnati about three months ago with his parent company, Delaware North Companies. James draws on 25 years working in restaurants and food service as well as time working as a cook in the Navy. He says his job takes creativity, vision and knowing how to think out of the box when it comes to food and presentation.

“There’s a lot a of different ways to kick up a World Series Party. Don’t stop at the food, make everything else look right, as well,” said James. Get creative — if Martha Stewart can do it, so can you.”

James suggests taking traditional ballpark fare and putting a creative spin on it.

“Wrap the hot dogs in bacon and make a topping bar. Use different seasonings for the nuts and popcorn. Make a ton of additions for the nachos, and by all means make things from scratch,” said James. Here are some more entertaining suggestions from James:

• Throw a hot dog party. Get a variety of different mustard, ketchup, relishes and get several fancy gourmet hot dogs to make some haute dogs that guests will enjoy indulging in. “You can do the same things with a nacho bar – different cheeses, different meats and to dress it up, put nachos inside of cheap baseball helmets,” said James.

• “Theme it out! Serve things in the teams colors and make catchy menu cards. If you put all your heart into the making of the food you need to do the same with the presentation,” said James.

• Take traditional baseball food and make it gourmet. Make your own Cracker Jacks using cashews, almonds and herbs to create more robust, complex flavors.

• Sports drink themed cocktails. Use Gatorade or Powerade to mix up fun drink recipes.

Creating a fresh, interesting spin on staples of ball park cuisine will make it fresh and new while relying on the dishes guests would expect will be served says James.

HOMEMADE PRETZEL RECIPE

James D. Major, Executive Chef of the Great American Ball Park, says he likes to make hand-rolled Bavarian pretzels for VIPs at the stadium. Here is the recipe he uses:

Ingredients

Dough

3 cups warm water

2 tablespoons sugar

4 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 ounce yeast

9 cups flour

4 ounces melted butter

Poaching water

20 cups water

1 1/3 cups baking soda

Egg wash

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons water

Pretzel salt as needed

Instructions

1. Mix dough and let rise.

2. Scale out and shape into pretzel.

3. Poach in baking soda bath till they rise. Put on coated pan and brush with egg wash and sprinkle with pretzel salt.

4. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes

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