If you’re a 49er’s fan and a food-lover and you’ve got plenty of cash to spare, get yourself down to Levi’s Stadium to check out Michael Mina’s Tailgate. A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to the exclusive party that happens before and during every home game. The Tailgate is not open to the public; only season ticket holders who have applied and paid for the membership have access to the party. It has an outrageous price tag, but the event is lavishly wonderful.
Each week a different guest chef (when I went it was Thomas Keller) is invited to come cook with Mina and make a signature dish inspired by the opposing team’s home town. I know nothing about the cuisine of Kansas City, but Keller’s lamb and white beans were flavorful and downright delicious.
There’s also several signature dishes by Mina, like succulent lobster pot pie and plump finger-licking good quail, a massive raw bar with oysters, shrimp, and Alaskan king crab legs, a charcuterie and cheese station, a spread of desserts including made-to-order-with-liquid-nitrogen butter pecan ice cream, and a kid’s buffet with insanely crispy chicken tenders.
But wait, there’s more! Chef Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats was outside manning the grill where he served up baby back ribs and a spicy, but addictive cheddar jalapeño hot link. Back inside, a whole pig was being roasted in a giant rotisserie. It’s meat was pulled and tossed with a fragrant KC sauce before being piled onto buttered, toasted ciabatta.
Of course, all this food must be washed down with something, right? There are servers everywhere — it seemed like there were as many waiters as their were tailgaters — who were eager and ready to take your drink order, be it a shot of vodka or a glass of Delirium. Michael Mina’s wife, Diane, offered her secret recipe for bloody Mary’s made with fresh heirloom tomatoes. There are flat screen televisions everywhere, even outside! If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it!
All images courtesy Nader Khouri Photography.