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Chef’s Corner: Andy Altomare

For this edition of Chef’s Corner – a feature that spotlights members of Delaware North’s culinary team – we talked to Andy Altomare, executive chef at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. 

Altomare, who has more than 15 years of experience in the culinary field, joined Delaware North in August 2013.
In his role, he oversees the food and beverage services at all of the venue’s concession stands, luxury suites and club levels. He also leads the stadium’s catering efforts and collaborates with the Bills’ nutritionist to provide the players with balanced meals throughout the NFL season. Click here to read a recent story featuring Altomare and one of his new menu items for the 2015 NFL season.
Words that describe you
Creative, detail-oriented, results driven.andyaltomare-5673716
Words that describe your food
Locally sourced comfort food with a twist.
Your favorite moment at Delaware North
My favorite moment would have to be the 2014 home-opener, after undergoing a $120 million renovation to Ralph Wilson Stadium and The Buffalo Bills Training Center. We opened multiple new kitchens and introduced more than 30 additions to the menus in the concessions and premium areas. There was so much excitement with the stadium renovation and ownership change, and it was truly rewarding to contribute to the fan experience that day.
On community involvement
Staffing our 18 kitchens is one of the biggest logistical challenges we face at Ralph Wilson Stadium, especially since we do not have public transportation to access our facility on game days. In an effort to source new employees, I began building relationships with local high schools and colleges that offer culinary programs. Over the past year and a half, we’ve given presentations at all of the schools to introduce the students to Delaware North – what we do, where we operate and what job/career opportunities are available, both locally and globally. In addition to guest-speaking at their schools, we invite the classes to take a field trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium to tour our facilities and operation. We even surprised one of the classes by splitting them into teams for an impromptu “mystery basket” cooking competition. The teams each presented a small lunch buffet to feed our staff, who then voted on which buffet they liked better and awarded the winning team with a small gift. The response to our outreach has been extremely positive, and it has resulted in several internships and kitchen hires.
Your favorite food
I would have to say Italian food – especially when it’s made from scratch. I come from a large Italian family that loves to cook, so spaghetti with homemade sauce and meatballs is my ultimate comfort food.
Your least favorite food
Anything involving mint.
The hardest cooking lesson you ever received
Never assume something is done without checking or following up. When I was a sous chef for a large high-end catering company, I was responsible for the execution of several events on any given day. On one such day, the last event I stopped by was a wedding with about 200 people in attendance. My job was to assist with the plate-up for the sit-down dinner service and make sure all of the food went out smoothly and correctly. My lead cook was highly experienced with executing events of that size and had been an employee of the company for several years, so I assumed he cooked the chicken breast all the way through and I didn’t bother to check. As a result, we ended up sending out about 35 undercooked chicken entrees. Fortunately, nobody became ill, but I certainly learned a very important lesson that day – never assume!
Heroes (cooking or otherwise)
Chef Andy Snow, the owner and former executive chef of Feastivities Events in Philadelphia, has been the biggest influence on me throughout my culinary career. He identified my talent for cooking when I was a teenager – took me under his wing and encouraged me to attend culinary school. He taught me to always strive to work smarter not harder, to never settle for mediocrity or just being “good enough” and to always push the limits of quality and creativity.