BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
It will be a big concert AND a big game night when Blake Shelton visits Philips Arena on Thursday.
Shelton, as fans know, is an avid hunter. So the Atlanta Hawks’ new executive chef, Joe Schafer, will pay tribute to Shelton’s passion with a show-night menu featuring deer, elk and kangaroo.
Most concertgoers will have access to the “Coffee BBQ Smoked Red Cervena Deer Brisket” sandwich, which features caramelized onions and barbecue mayonnaise along with deer meat from New Zealand. The $13 sandwich will be available at three concession stands in the arena – Burgers and Birds on the upper level, Buds and Burgers on Hawk Walk and at Chops in the club level.
Fans taking in the show from the suite level can order the full “Big Game Experience” from the catering menu, which includes the deer smoked brisket, elk osso buco and roasted kangaroo loin, in addition to comparably pedestrian offerings such as chilled asparagus salad and root vegetable gratin.
“Coming up with special menus is all part of Joe’s focus, to make the experience different. It’s how are we different from every other live event venue out there,” said Janet Smith, senior director of brand communications for the Hawks and Philips Arena. “That’s what he brings to the table in terms of his ingenuity.”
Schafer - who came to the arena this season after helming the kitchen at the acclaimed Bacchanalia - has been progressive in his food decisions.
The Hawks’ season opener in October made news because of one culinary offering – roasted, dried crickets , which were sold as a snack pack or on a taco.
Schafer said music fans can expect to see more “themed menu options” at upcoming shows.
“One of my goals as executive chef is to not only bring amazing quality and taste to our food, but to keep our in-house dining experience fresh and unpredictable,” he said. “That’s all a part of having a great night out.”