Saturday, April 04, 2009

Phil Bucco--New Executive Chef--Nationals Park

We can't finish off yesterday's food tasting at Nationals Park without speaking with The New Executive Chef for Levy Restaurants. Phil Bucco is the man in charge of all the menu items now available at The South Capitol Street Ballpark. Whether you sit in Gallery Level, Club Level or somewhere on The Main Concourse--it's Phil Bucco's responsibility to have freshly made, quality food available for you to purchase.

Levy Restaurants New Executive Chef Phil Bucco chatted with Sohna and I during yesterday's media availability at Nationals Park.
Here is that conversation:

Can you tell us a little bit about your background that brought you here? (SBF)

“As you know Levy Restaurants is based in Chicago. I have worked for them in Chicago, in Charlotte, Miami—even been out to The Kentucky Derby (Louisville)—helped at Super Bowls and projects in Puerto Rico. So I have been seven years with Levy’s—been around and seen a lot of good and exciting things.”

What ballparks have you worked in the past? (SBF)

“I have worked at Comiskey Park (South Chicago), Wrigley Field—I have helped out there. I have even been out to Phoenix (Chase Field)”

Everyone’s talking about quality today—why is it different with Levy’s than other concessionaires? What’s different with you guys? (SBF)

“We are all about putting a twist on it. We really want to give everyone a great guest experience. When someone walks into these doors to watch a ballgame, we want them to have options available to them. We really try to spice things up (variety). We (Levy) are on the top lists as one of the most innovative companies in food service providing. And that is what we are all about.”

Can you go into more detail about some of your offerings on display today—like your Crab Louie? (SBF)

“The Footlong Crab Louie is fresh jumbo lump crab meat, tossed with our Louie Dressing, which is a special recipe of ours. It’s a play on a lobster roll. When you go to Maine, you get a lobster roll. You come here to Nationals Park you get a Crab Louie.”

When did Levy start making such a food option? (SBF)

“When I got here. (Really? —SBF) Yes, this has never been done before. That is really what we are all about. We like to do this. We believe in getting into a market or area—anywhere across America—we want to be as local as possible. We look for what are favorites in the area. It’s very important to infuse as much local flair into what we are doing. Certainly, we are still going to give you hot dogs. We are still going to give you the hamburgers, chicken tenders—things like that. But you know what? We are going to have you choose whether you want something unique or something more common—that’s the beauty of it all. Everyone has options to choose what’s best for them.”

We are talking here today about mostly general concessions. Can you give some more details about upgrades in the various club levels? (SBF)

“There is going to be an entire roll out of what we are doing here at the park. We are putting our touches on everything. I am not going to get into those details today, but like I said, with a great organization like The Nationals and an organization like ourselves (Levy Restaurants), we are putting touches everywhere.”

There was talk last year of having sushi. Is that a possibility this season? (SBF)

“Ahh!! There might be some sushi specials run out here—you never know. Things change and that’s what's special about us also. Nothing stays the same. We are constantly upgrading, rethinking, always out there looking for the next new idea--the new innovative thing that we can do better. How can we better serve our guests—that’s really what this is all about. You can never really tell what we are going to come up with.”

“Another important point about today is that we like to sprinkle in the good stuff all over. Whether you want a Turkey Burger, Crab Louie, Buffalo Hot Dog or just Chili Cheese Nachos—you can enjoy that no matter what price ticket you purchase to any game. We have to give everyone options.”

Do you find that baseball fans respond to more exotic options?

“There are those that come for just the hot dog and we are going to give them a great hot dog. But there are also those that come and want something different, something maybe a little more exotic—and that’s here too for them. People get excited about that. Personally, I can’t wait until those gates open and see all the fans come through. I will be standing there greeting everyone. It’s going to be fantastic. People are going to have a great time and not just because of the baseball game. We (Levy Restaurants) are going to give them a better dining experience. We’ve worked hard during the off-season working with The Nationals to create new menu items and bring this fan experience to the next level. Really, I can’t wait.”

With that final answer--Our Conversation with Phil Bucco--New Executive Chef at Nationals Park concluded.


Positively Half St. said...


I just saw your commercial for the first time. Well done! My 13-year-old Kate just told me she thought it was so cool that you are in a commercial.

Let's have a great season.


paul said...

Any relation to Artie Bucco, chef to the Sopranos?

My impressions of the day at the ballpark:

Where was everybody? It was an amazingly low turnout, announced generously as 11K and change. Despite few patrons, service was really inefficient, definitely in the learning mode. I helped inform folks where coffee is served (LF and RF downstairs, closer to 3B than 1B). No souvenir cups for the sodas!

It was really neat to walk on the field. The grass is incredibly perfect. St. Claire and Eckstein were together. I thought, what would the Nats do without those guys?

The music: oldies in the afternoon, got progressively heavier, modern, louder, and more rambunctious as the first pitch neared. Does that promote more alcohol consumption?

Really tasteless contest involving three female bodies before the game. I tried not to pay attention. Clint was in charge.

Nice introduction of DCPS kids before the game. The team is definitely getting smarter on community outreach. They can't rely on the graying male population forever!

Everyone working at the ballpark couldn't be nicer. It's as if they all are trying to help us recover our mental health after a tough winter, both politically and economically.

Then the game: After nearly decapitating Rafael Belliard to catch a popup, Adam Dunn had a truly quality at-bat, extending an 0-2 count to a walk to load the bases. I found it interesting that Josh Willingham, no doubt used to clouting homers here, knew instantly that his grand slam was going to make it. Then Dunn muffed a ground ball. But we did turn three double plays. We got the entire Adam Dunn package today. During BP he hit the longest homer I have seen at the park, halfway up the straightaway right field upper deck, not even swinging hard.

Shairon Martis resembles my impression of a young Ramon Ortiz. He works quickly, has good control, but his pitches don't move very much, nor does he change speeds effectively. It will be interesting to see if he can learn the changeup. (Does he have one? I couldn't tell.)

It as GREAT to be at the ballpark again. Nice to see SBF and his better half, too! But we need more of you out there or we risk bipartisan crowds during the Phillies series!

Dre said...


Have you ever thought of adding Twitter to nats320? I (and I'm sure many others) would be interested in hearing the AQ's and your thoughts during the game... esp for folks with smartphones at Nats Park... kind of like a stadium wide discussion/commentary...

Screech's Best Friend said...

Artie Bucco--Paul that is good. I will ask Phil that as a joke next time just to get his response. That Dunn BP Homer was mesmerizing. His fielding at first base was as well.

yazzy1956 said...

I bet that crab meat sandwich runs you $30.