Chef Eric Labouchere, formerly of Martinique Bistro and currently at Primitivo, has been a regular customer and occasional cook at the illustrious neighborhood bar Kingpin during Saints game over the past ten (or so) years.
Kingpin offers free food for all Sunday Saints games, sometimes from food trucks, guest chefs, or sometimes grilled and barbecued fare cooked up by the owners, Steve Watson and Ben Sherman (who also own deep dish mecca Midway, on Freret.) However, Watson says, these days the two of them don't want to cook anymore.
Therefore, Watson's brought in some culinary ringers like Jason Lambert from Cleaver & Co., Hank Shackelford from Cochon Butcher, as well as Laboucher, who will be taking over the kitchen during away games. "Many of the regulars have season tickets, so it's during the away games when the bar gets crowded," he says.
His specialty is to focus on the stadium cuisine of the opposing team's city. "I got bored making Saints food every week," he says, "and I also like to indulge in a little pageantry." Though he's exercised the theme at Kingpin in the past, with items like Cincinnati-style chili and Texas brisket, this season, he says, will offer a developed menu in a popup situation. "It gives me the liberty to do what I do."
For the upcoming game at the New York Giants, Laboucher is preparing "Meadlowland chow:" hot Italian sausage with blistered sweet peppers and caramelized onions; fried potatoes; NY Strip meatballs; homemade pretzel balls with spicy mustard; and baked ziti. Also, Carnegie Deli-style pastrami, with sauerkraut, Swiss fondue and 1000 island, Reuben-style.
Because food at stadiums has gotten more sophisticated, Laboucher says, he's planning on getting a little more funky and weird with the offerings. For example, when the Saints play the San Diego Chargers in October 2, he'll roast whole fish for tacos and cook seafood to order. "I want people to be able to smell it from the street and come inside."
Laboucher actually contacts the away stadium vendors to see what they're serving to their fans. "It's not just hot dogs and pretzels anymore," he says, noting that the stadium food is now more appropriate to its locale.
But sometimes, he says, you just gotta make New Orleans staples. "Maybe we can set up a food competition - we can pit New England style chowder against gumbo."
Kingpin will have free food for ALL Sunday football games. Home games will cycle between pop-ups and food trucks, Laboucher will be there for away games. All food is free during Sunday games. ALL FOOD. IS FREE. ON SUNDAYS.