OMAHA — Last year, Levy Restaurants played it safe with food for the College World Series because of the pandemic.
Figuring that fans would be craving the familiar after a year away from the stadium, the company introduced just a handful of new items that focused on classic ballpark food.
This year, new executive sous chef Alec Woockman leaped out of that comfort zone.
His menu features more than 10 new entrees with atypical ingredients. For example, a shrimp po’boy with Cajun remoulade and a vegetarian snack featuring cauliflower.
“I definitely wanted to change last year’s approach, (with) a broad spectrum of flavors,” Woockman said. “All of it is something I love, made more interesting and out-of-the-box.”
Woockman is from Crofton and is a graduate of the Metropolitan Community College Institute for the Culinary Arts. He’s also a seven-year employee of Levy, which handles food service at Charles Schwab Field and CHI Health Center Omaha.
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He was promoted to his current job — which includes creating and coordinating CWS food — about six months ago.
That was exciting, he said, because devising the CWS menu was a career goal. He began working on it right away.
Here’s what he came up with, beginning with two things he thinks are the most unusual:
Cauliflower and Tots: The veggie is fried crisp with a spicy batter and served with potato tots and curry aioli. It’s the only new item that’s vegetarian, Woockman said.
Chicken In a Pickle: A chicken breast is fried crisp, then served with a thin, crinkle-cut dill pickle slice, fried pickles and an aioli made with sweet bread-and-butter pickles.
“It’s certainly a fun one to have at the CWS,” he said.
Chicken and Waffle Fries: Small chunks of breaded fried chicken topped with bacon and a maple sriracha aioli.
O Dog: A grilled hot dog covered with queso, diced grilled steak, green onions and housemade sauce.
Jalapeno Popper Dog: Grilled and topped with bacon, a house-made jalapeno jam, cream cheese and fried jalapeno peppers. Messy and yummy.
The Slugger: A 14-inch-long Italian stock-cooked-beef sandwich, with giardiniera and melted cheese on the top.
Shrimp Po’Boy: Fried jumbo shrimp with lettuce, tomatoes and a mild Cajun remoulade. Too bad LSU isn’t here this year.
Ballpark Braised Brisket: Tender meat on a hoagie bun with caramelized onions and dressed with arugula. Delicious in its simplicity.
Italian Sub: All the right stuff: ham, salami, capicola, red onion, oil and vinegar, lettuce and tomato.
Chicken Parm: The classic Italian restaurant entree on a sandwich.
Fried Sweet Chili Ribs: Small bone-in ribs topped with cabbage and carrot slaw.
Jalapeno Artichoke Dip: Hot cream cheese dip with small pieces of jalapeno and a gooey cheddar crust.
Bratter Up Burger: Made with an all-beef patty, a bratwurst patty and caramelized onions.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies: A gooey and delightful dessert with a whole peanut butter cup embedded on the top.
Woockman said favorites from past seasons, such as NachOmaha, will return to the concession stands.
There are two new concourse vendors this year: Sticky Stuff Confections, which will sell colored kettle corn in Section 132, and eCreamery, which will sell ice cream on the club level, said Alex Cross, director of concessions and retail for Levy.
Returning vendors include Sno Floss, Dippin’ Dots, Shaved Ice, Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ and Maui Wowi.
Pint 9, Kinkaider, Kros Strain, Brickway and Glacial Till are the craft beer and cider vendors.
Each year, some Levy items are offered only in suites and club seats. This year, that includes ribs, chicken and waffles, cookies and the jalapeno dip.
More will be available throughout the stadium this year.
“We tried not to go too crazy-fancy that we wouldn’t be able to afford to have it for the masses,” he said.