TORONTO - When the first pitch is thrown at Rogers Centre on Monday, Toronto Blue Jays fans will be able to sample from an updated menu cooked up by a "Top Chef Canada" contestant.
Elizabeth Rivasplata, who competed in Season 2 of the culinary competition, is the stadium's new executive chef.
She says the new menu is inspired by the city's many cultures and neighbourhoods and she's using local ingredients and suppliers as much as possible.
"We work really close with the Jays to develop the menus," she said Thursday. "We will never take the hot dogs or burgers or chicken fingers from the menu. It's just we increased the regular offerings."
The Peruvian native wanted to focus on comfort foods beloved by Torontonians — like the peameal bacon sandwich, which she used as inspiration for a ballpark-friendly sausage.
"We spent a couple of months testing different items and we came up with the perfect recipe for the peameal bacon sausage," she said.
It will be served on a cornmeal bun at the stadium's Hogtown Grill (honey mustard and caramelized onions optional).
The Distillery District Roast Beef Dip sandwich — with jus, roasted garlic aioli, horseradish mayo, crispy red onion and rocket greens on a herb baguette — will be available at Muddy York Market.
The Liberty Village Sausage Poutine, available at Toronto Street Eats, will feature gravy, cheese curds, caramelized onions, sauteed peppers, smoked farmers sausage and peameal-bacon sausage.
A plain poutine will cost $8 while the fully loaded version is $13.95, tax included.
Fish and chips — the most expensive new item at $14 — includes a five-ounce piece of haddock breaded with batter that is 60 per cent beer.
Other offerings include hand-dipped corned dogs and porchetta sandwiches.
"We are trying to cater to everybody because there are so many people coming to the stadium," said Rivasplata. "We have your items that for sure are heavy on calories, but it's once every once in a while. But we also have lots of healthy items."
While some of those will only be served in suites and premium seating, fans in the stands will be able to find meal-size salads ranging from $8 to $9.95 at some concessions. One is a mix of "super" greens — kale, broccoli, chicory — blue cheese, apple and candied walnuts, while an Asian chicken salad is served with sesame miso dressing and garnished with fresh cilantro.
Rivasplata, 35, insists these will be "as easy as a hot dog" to eat in the stands from a take-out container, with the chicken sliced and greens cut in bite-size pieces.
She hinted there are plans to launch some new sweet treats this summer.
Rivasplata, who has also worked with the Art Gallery of Ontario, Eatertainment Group and Mill St. Brewery in Toronto, admits she wasn't into baseball at first but "the Jays are growing on me and I can say that I am a Jays fan."
The Blue Jays play their home opener Monday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.
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