When it comes to culinary choices, the U.S. Open strives to ace it.
And maintaining the level of food quality that tennis fans expect at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is a year-round task.
Chris Studley, senior director of event services for the Tennis Center, told amNewYork at Thursday’s culinary preview at Aces restaurant inside Arthur Ashe Stadium that the process of identifying potential new food vendors sometimes begins at the previous year’s U.S. Open.
"We may be talking to somebody this next week or two, and they’ll say, ‘Hey, I have an interest in coming in next year,’ so it could start as soon as this one ends."
Two of the most notable additions to this year’s lineup are José Andrés and Tom Colicchio. Andrés and ThinkFoodGroup will serve crafted tacos, tortas and more at Butterfly, located both at the Food Village and on the stadium’s Club Level. Colicchio, known to many for his role as a judge on Bravo’s "Top Chef" and with several restaurants in and out of the city, is offering handcrafted sandwiches and salads with ‘Wichcraft concessions.
"We pride ourselves as a sporting event on being able to offer things you wouldn’t get at a baseball game or a football game, and we seem to be known for our food and entertainment," said Studley, referring to the variety of chefs partnering with the USTA this year. "These chefs bring in a high mark for us, between José Andrés and Tom Colicchio, two of the most famous chefs on the planet, I think we’re delivering on that promise to our fans."
Offering local flavor to the roughly 700,000 fans who visit during the two weeklong tournament, which begins Monday, is a priority. "We have a couple partners right here," he said. "Helen You, with Dumpling Galaxy, is right here in downtown Flushing, and we have our friends from JoJu that are doing the bánh mì Vietnamese sandwiches from East Elmhurst, Queens. We’re really proud of the local flair that we can bring to the event."
It’s easy to figure out the specialty of Dumpling Galaxy, which opened in 2014 and is new to the U.S. Open food lineup. Each order includes six dumplings in flavors such as lamb with green squash, chicken with broccoli and pork with cabbage.
JoJu, making its return to the tournament, offers among other choices a bánh mì bacon dog — a hot dog wrapped in bacon which includes spicy mayo, green sauce and bánh mì fixings.
Other locations new to the U.S. Open Food Village and concessions are FieldTrip, from JJ Johnson’s restaurant in Harlem, offering rice bowls, and OakBerry’s acai bowl options.
Studley said the USTA points to variety and quality as the top considerations when preparing its food selection. There’s an understanding on the organizer’s part that visitors come to Queens with certain expectations.
"This is a commitment for a lot of folks to come out, so we want to make sure … you’re getting the right value for what you’re buying," he said.