By Kelli Gustafson – RogersPlace.com
The excitement you will feel when you experience your first event at Rogers Place will unquestionably stir your every sense — from the roar of the crowd when your favourite band takes the stage, to the electrifying goal horn and bone-rattling body checks when the Oilers and Oil Kings hit the ice.
But it is also the tastes of Rogers Place that will complete these unforgettable moments. Aramark Sports & Entertainment, Rogers Place’s food and beverage partner, has been working diligently for the past three years to create fresh, local menus for the general concessions, Suites and Club level dining, as well as the Loge level restaurant.
“We’re looking to do pierogi nachos.”
RogersPlace.com recently spoke to O’Brien Tingling, Regional Executive Chef for Aramark Sports & Entertainment, as well as Susan Darrington, Rogers Place Vice President and General Manager, to get a preview* of what these menus may include.
“On the Loge level restaurant, you will have everything from some real, Alberta beef, some cowboy steak, filet mignon, a nice salmon, handcrafted desserts, complimented by some wonderful handcrafted cocktails coming from the bar,” Tingling explained.
The Loge level restaurant sits one level above the main concourse, and is open to all ticket-holders inside Rogers Place. Darrington anticipates the restaurant will be open hours before an event, providing guests with an opportunity to enjoy a best-in-class meal before watching their favourite team hit the ice, or hearing their favourite band take the stage.
“[You can] share a bottle of wine, visit with friends, and make it a whole evening out in downtown Edmonton,” Darrington said.
The hours of operation for the Loge level restaurant may depend on what events are taking place inside the arena, and fans will be able to find these hours by checking the Rogers Place website ahead of their visit.
“…some really great unique products that make Rogers Place a special destination.”
The exceptional food experience does not stop at the restaurant. Tingling explained the concessions along the concourse will offer “unlimited options,” where fans can not only expect to find classic offerings, such as hotdogs and hamburgers, but also new items like a teriyaki rice bowl, Indian food, porchetta sandwiches and much more.
“Wherever you are in the building, the dining experience is very important,” Tingling said.
He also described what fans can expect to find in the club sections of the arena: hand-crafted artisan pizzas, fresh hamburgers and a unique chef-attended condiments station including caramelized bacon, mushrooms and onions that will take that fan-favourite hotdog or hamburger to the next level.
“Whether it be the hot dog, or whether it be the filet mignon up in the restaurant, I can tell you it is designed in a way that any guest can have a great product.”
Darrington echoed Tingling’s words, saying, “We’ll have all the fan-favourites, a lot of local-sourcing and then some really great unique products that make Rogers Place a special destination.”
One item Darrington is most looking-forward to — “We’ve done some really great things with the pierogis.”
A Northern Alberta favourite, the Rogers Place team has been crafting some unique ways to serve up this eastern European classic.
“Fans have always been used to being able to get that at Rexall Place, now at Rogers Place they’ll be able to find that in a new and unique way.”
Tingling says he has been studying in Edmonton on how to make “the best pierogi poutine.” Fans can even expect to find a pierogi pizza and Darrington added, “we’re looking to do pierogi nachos.”
“The local-inspired food and beverage will be prevalent here.”
Fans will be treated to excellent customer service and tremendous food and beverage options.
“We’ve increased our point-of-sale ratio, which means there are more places to go and buy food throughout the building, as well as all of our products that are food-inclusive,” explained Darrington.
“We want fans to really get to know the venue and move throughout all the different levels to see the different options we’ve made available.”
In addition to the main concourse concessions, fans can explore the Ozone bars on the west side of the building as well as the two-level Sportsnet Club and Sky Lounge on the east side of the building. These clubs offer a full-service bar, with a food-inclusive, rotating menu of fresh and locally-sourced food. Following an event, the Sky Lounge’s curtains will be drawn, turning it into one of the most sought-after nightspots in downtown Edmonton.
“You can go and see a hockey game, go and see a concert, and then join us all night in the Sky Lounge,” said Darrington.
Below the main concourse, fans can explore the mezzanine level which Darrington describes will resemble an “Edmonton marketplace.” It is here you will find an array of fresh and diverse ingredients.
Located on both the north and south sides of the arena, the mez level will offer at least 16 different points of sale and include items from around the world, from a gourmet hamburger, to Mexican cuisine, to fresh, handmade sushi.
Other anticipated food offerings include a mac & cheese bar with toppings of pulled pork, bison, chili and more; a beef brisket sandwich stacked with pancetta and wild boar; and a signature hotdog with unlimited, gourmet toppings.
Menus are expected to change weekly depending on what is in season as well as what events are taking place inside the arena.
“The local-inspired food and beverage will be prevalent here,” said Tingling.
Sustainability is an aspect that will continue to be carefully considered by Aramark and the team at Rogers Place when deciding on menus.
Congrats to our team in Canada, named one of @Green_Employers for 2016! #EarthDayEveryDay pic.twitter.com/q2FGbQtB7A
— Aramark Corporation (@Aramark) April 22, 2016
“Sustainability is a great part of what we do,” said Thingling. “It’s important to make sure we partner with the local farmers or ranchers to source the best possible proteins and vegetables and fruits while it’s in season.”
Darrington added, “Alberta has a proud culture of farming. We want to use that as a resource, and go out and source the best beef, the best vegetables, the best produce and bring that into the arena.”
Besides locally-sourcing food and beverage options, Rogers Place will continue to execute the Rock and Wrap it Up program in conjunction with local food banks in Oil Country. An NHL campaign, the Rock and Wrap it Up program donates prepared but unserved foods to those in need, while avoiding the landfill and supporting the venue’s green initiatives.
With food and beverage options on every level, fans are not only excited to see Rogers Place at the Public Open House on September 10, but to also get a taste of what the new arena will have to offer.
“[It sounds like] a lot more options than Rexall used to have, so I’ll be really excited!” said a neighbouring resident near Rogers Place, Jas Panesar.
Fans who do not have a ticket to an event will still be welcomed to join the excitement inside the Winter Garden, socialize in the beer garden, and be a part of the lively atmosphere of ICE District.
“So when you come in,” Darrington explained, “if you don’t have a ticket for the event, we have an opportunity for fans to come and [still] be part of that experience.”
“This atmosphere will ultimately extend out into the plaza once construction is complete”.
The unique design of Rogers Place will play host to the many memorable — and tasty — moments to come!
*Stay tuned for the full menu announcement coming this summer.