FINISHING TOUCH: Dayanny De La Cruz, Hard Rock Stadium’s executive chef puts the finishing touches on a salmon and tomato carpaccio, one of the items that will be offered at the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix. (Matthew Noel photo for Sodexo Live!)

Sodexo Live! executive chef no stranger to major events

Expectations are revving up for the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix when it debuts as the newest race on the F1 calendar May 6-8 in Miami Gardens with top international drivers, eager motorsports enthusiasts and a menu worthy of the winner’s circle.

It’s the inaugural event on the 275 acre property where Hard Rock Stadium, home of the NFL Miami Dolphins, sits. The spectator layout is split into eight, distinct zones that reflect local culture and lifestyle including a marina, beach club, and luxury suites for viewing the action on and off the track.

There will be plenty to see. The 3.36 mile Miami International Autodrome was constructed from 24,000 tons of asphalt and features 19 corners, three straightaways and has an estimated top speed of 135 mph.

Zachary Williams, director of Sodexo Live! at Hard Rock Stadium, the Dolphins’ food provider, put transforming the venue’s massive parking lot into a small city for race week in perspective: “That is a major chunk of land to cover,” he quipped.

Covering that area with high-end food and beverage is a challenge. A year in the making, Sodexo Live! will set up 70 different locations with three major production kitchens and satellite kitchens in each zone preparing fresh foods on event days. Each location will be fully stocked so that there are no delays for covering the vast distance and having to restock items.

“Each kitchen will operate independent of everyone else,” Williams explained. “Everything will be produced there and ready to go.”

Over the weekend, Hard Rock Stadium executive chef Dayanny De La Cruz and the Sodexo Live! culinary team will handle the menus at the campus around Hard Rock Stadium, including the terraces, villas, suites and the MSC Cruises Yacht Club. The chef will be supported by more than 2,500 workers and more than 30 culinarians flown in for the race. De la Cruz was executive when Super Bowl LIV came to Hard Rock Stadium in 2020.

Williams said while it’s new terrain, the Sodexo Live! contingent is ready following other major events including the Super Bowl, the Rolling Loud music festival and the Miami Open tennis tournament.

“We have a great staffing department and we know what the expectations are,” he said.

Variety and scalable price points make the experience accessible for general admission guests as well as luxury patrons.

“We want to provide for each guest at different levels; from the general admission grounds pass all the way up to the luxury clients,” he said. “We will have a value range and experience that fits every different guest we have.”

That means offering something for everyone; burgers, hog dogs, and chicken tenders in the $7-$8 range all the way up to a $20+ wagyu hot dog topped with dollops of caviar. The Miami-inspired menu also includes rock shrimp ceviche, smoked lobster arancini, filet mignon bites, crab avocado toast, mini Cuban egg sandwiches, smoked marlin dip, beef wagyu satay, chicharron bites and Key West shrimp cocktail.

In addition, South Florida Motorsports, the event promoter, turned to South Florida’s best local restaurants including Michelin-starred eateries and James Beard Award notables, as well exceptional minority-owned businesses in Miami Gardens, to upgrade options for race fans.

Over the course of the weekend, 35 restaurants will be on the grounds, including Seaspice, Michael’s Genuine Cafe, Harry’s Pizzeria, Groot Hospitality, Casa Tua, COTE Miami, ZZ’s Club, and acclaimed chef Michelle Bernstein. Race weekend guests will also have unique bar offerings with liquor brands Hendricks, Herradura, Glenfiddich, Cincoro, Flor de Cana, Organika, and Whistle Pig.

With a menu that looks significantly different from the typical NFL game day offerings, Williams said the Sodexo Live! team will be focused on detailed training of part-timers and making sure the first plate is as good as the last. When the gates open, he plans to be on the westside food hall, the largest on the campus: “I want to see them when they walk in that space and see options they don’t normally see. I’m excited to see people react to that.”

And when it is over, Chef De La Cruz and Sodexo Live! will work to donate unused food items to the Miami chapter of Food Rescue US, to help local missions and shelters around South Florida. The group regularly rescues food from Hard Rock Stadium and has kept three million pounds of food out of landfills since its start in 2018.