By Graham Kates
It's not easy setting up a high-end restaurant, knowing it will serve massive crowds the moment it opens its doors.
At the U.S. Open Food Tasting Preview, on Aug. 23, celebrity chefs Masaharu Morimoto, David Burke and Tony Manuano showed off the food they created for the world’s highest-attended annual sporting event, but said they would have little time to catch matches or hobnob with tennis stars.
"It’s a triumph to be able to serve that many people correctly,” said David Burke, whose food will be offered at Champion Bar & Grill during the event. “You’re opening a big new restaurant in two weeks. I don’t know if there’s any restaurant in New York City that will be as busy as Champion Grill … to do 1,000 covers a day, I don’t think anyone does that.”
Burke's menu includes ash crusted prime beef Carpaccio with Himalayan rock salt and mushroom chips; dry-aged bone-in rib eye with a vegetable stuffed baked potato; butter poached two-pound lobster, with shoestring potatoes, zucchini marmalade and spiced black honey; and his signature dessert cheesecake lollipop tree.
While this year’s menu doesn’t feature any U.S. Open-themed items (sorry: no tennis ball-sized cheesecake lollipops), Burke said he’s got some ideas for next year.
"When I opened David Burke at Bloomingdales, I had three round sandwiches, made on round Columbian cheese rolls called Buñuelos, and I wrapped them in green paper and put them in a tennis sleeve. It was called a tennis trio,” Burke said. “Next year we'll do something like that. Where you can get the three sandwiches in a tennis sleeve and bring them back to your seat."
But not every chef was already looking forward to next year. Morimoto said before he can start thinking about 2013, he has to fine tune 2012’s service.
"This is my third year. A couple of years ago, it was a lot of work, because I (didn’t) know what was going on. We were very unorganized. The second year, we did OK. And this year, I see it being perfect,“ said Morimoto, whose food will be served at Aces restaurant during the event.
Morimoto’s menu includes Montauk wild stripe sea bass and Skuna Bay craft raised salmon.
Although tennis stars are rarely seen eating at U.S. Open restaurants, Morimoto said he’s always been willing to cater to them.
“If they want a snack, or their family wants food in their suites, we send them food. We like that,” Morimoto said. In fact, one tennis star enjoyed Morimoto’s food so much last year, that he actually did become a regular at the restaurant.
“Andy Murray, he come in a lot last year, every day. He loves spicy tuna,” Morimoto said of the Olympic gold medal winner.
A few minutes later, Morimoto made his best effort to woo another tennis star, personally serving John McEnroe a fresh tray of sushi. McEnroe watched, seemingly unimpressed, as Morimoto grated fresh wasabi root tableside.
The spectacle of an Iron Chef serving food to the Tantrum himself quickly drew a horde of cameras to the table.
“I didn’t know I was such a big deal,” the four-time U.S. Open champion said, as he posed for a photo with Morimoto.
Photo Credit: Graham Kates