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Feeding the Grammys

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010, at 03:53PM
Grammy Food Preview Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Levy Restaurants' Area Chef Gilbert Verdugo and Staples Center Executive Chef Pilar Sanchez are in charge of preparing food for approximately 5,000 people during Sunday's 52nd Grammy Awards.

The 52nd Grammy Awards show is still four days away, but the work of feeding the performers and VIPs has already gotten started deep inside Staples Center.

"Today was the green bean cleaning party," notes Gilbert Verdugo, Area Chef for Levy Restaurants.

Levy, the company that holds the concession contract at Staples Center, will serve approximately 5,000 people on Sunday, catering 160 suites, dressing rooms, backstage areas and a large show afterparty.

Verdugo and Staples Center Executive Chef Pilar Sanchez are in charge of a crew that will include "a couple hundred in the kitchen" and nearly 1,000 people once the front-line food service folks are added in.

Figuring out how much food to order for an event like this one is "a science," says Verdugo. "We get pretty darn close," adds Sanchez. "If we run out towards the end, it's a good thing."

The chefs use an Excel spreadsheet to stay on top of what needs to be prepared when in the run-up to show time. There's a lot to keep track of. Sunday's menus will use 500 pounds of artisanal cheeses, 400 pounds of beef short ribs, 300 pounds of shrimp, 200 pounds of live lobster, 200 pounds of ahi tuna and 60 pounds of Dungeness crab meat.

For Sunday, a big emphasis has been put on ingredients that are sustainable and responsibly sourced. "Every year we try to do more and more," says Verdugo. "It's been an initiative with the music industry to go this route. We have to have traceability on all of our products." This year that means organic chickens and hormone-free lamb. Most of the evening's produce is grown within 200 miles of Downtown.

This year's Grammy show will be Verdugo's seventh, the others coming while he was in the role that Sanchez now holds. Sunday's show will be a "passing of the torch," she said.

The role of Staples Center Executive Chef is one that both praised as a dream job. "It's a good place to be," Sanchez says. "Jerry West was like my first crush. I'm very happy."


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