One special is the "Cheet-o-lote," a crushed Cheeto-covered corn cob that’s been slathered in mayo
Ryan Evans is getting ready to feed 55,000 fans at Dodger Stadium. They’re coming in for Game 6 of the World Series, which could be a make-or-break for the Dodgers, who haven’t won a title since 1988. If you live in L.A., you get how monumentally huge this is.
And Evans feels the pressure, too. He’s the executive chef for the entire stadium, overseeing all food that gets made and served to fans. More than just Dodger Dogs, there are fried chicken and waffle sandwiches, poké bowls, vegan noodles and al pastor nachos with pork carved off the spit, traditional trompo style. The list goes on.
“I’ve been here since 9 a.m. this morning and don’t plan on leaving until 10 p.m. tonight,” he says.
As far as the concession stand goes, stats during your average Dodgers game are crazy: there are 5 chefs, 80 cooks and 2,500 front-of-house staff. They serve 55,000 people a game for 82 games over 6 months. And that’s not including the playoffs.
During the World Series, fans eat and drink even more—especially when the Dodgers are winning, which they have been. “We definitely sell and serve more when the atmosphere is great,” he says. “If we’re losing 6-0, people are in their seats, frustrated. They don’t want to get up, they don’t want to spend money.”
During the World Series, Evans notices that fans splurge on higher-ticket items. Usually, for example, the stadium sells about 35,000 Dodger Dogs during your average game: the iconic 10-inch grilled pork hot dog is served with mustard and relish. For World Series games in L.A., however, that number has jumped by about 5,000, with fans also spending more on wagyu cheeseburgers and lobster rolls, the latter of which is a special menu item specifically for the World Series.
Other specials include the "Cheet-o-lote," a crushed Cheeto-covered corn cob that’s been slathered in mayo. It’s a riff off elote, the Mexican street snack you can find on the street at Echo Park and neighborhoods all over L.A.’s east side.
There are also al pastor nachos and loaded fries, both served in huge plastic helmets—it’s what Evans calls “basebowls.” For the Championship Series, there was donut fried chicken sandwich—basically what you think it is—with a hockey puck of ice cream wedged in the middle. It was, forgive us, a home run.
When developing the menu, Evans coordinates tastings for the owners and executive team to make sure they’re on board. “If he’s here, [co-owner] Magic Johnson might be there. It’s for all of the Dodgers leadership. They want to be the best in baseball, and we want to be the best in MLB as far as food is concerned,” he says.
Evans graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, just up the road from Dodger Stadium. As a kid, he loved baseball, and he's since made a career out of working in sports arenas, including in college football, NFL and now MLB. The food culture in football is different, he says, because fans pre-game before the game starts and then get up around half-time. This is because most football stadiums don’t allow you to have sight of the field while you’re waiting in line for concessions; all MLB stadiums are open concourse, though, so you can turn around and watch the game when you’re in line.
“Back in the day with football stadiums, it was just like, 'How do we fit 80,000 people in here,'” he says. “Now, they’re slowly evolving.”
Even compared to his previous MLB positions, however—he also worked for the Seattle Mariners—he says that Dodgers fans are different. “I don’t know, it just feels different here,” he says.
“One of the things I wanted to do is represent L.A.,” he says. “You go three or four blocks in any direction from the stadium, and you have communities of Latinos, Armenians, Indians, Koreans.” He tries to reflect that diversity with the menu, as well as with cultural nights the Dodgers put on.
“Puig and a few of our other players are Cuban, and we did a huge takeover on Cuban night,” he says. There was Cuban music, fedoras were given away, and Cuban born right-fielder Yasiel Puig gave a speech. Next season, Evans is working with Roy Choi to have him guest chef at Dodger Stadium to cook his crave-worthy Kogi tacos.
For now, though, the focus is on the World Series. “When this is all over, we’re definitely going to get some time to regroup and reload. But it’s an honor to be a part of it.”