Indian Wells Tennis Garden seeks to create a ‘gastronomic paradise’

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden is known as a tennis paradise. “Our goal was to make it a gastronomic paradise,” Laurence Rua, Sodexo Live! senior vice president, told me.

The BNP Paribas Open 2024 at the Indian Wells site in California, the largest non-Grand Slam event on the calendar in terms of attendance, has completely renewed its catering offering with Sodexo Live! to better connect fan-favorite restaurants with tennis fans across the 54-acre site.

“It’s been incredible,” Rua said of the first week of the tournament. “We wanted something different. We gave the fans more of what they wanted and we expanded.

A series of new restaurants have joined the experience, from Porta Via taking over Stadium 1’s courtyard-facing restaurant to new Garden Food Village options from Jeffrey Lunak’s Sumo Dog, San Diego-based Puesto Mexican Cuisine, local deli from Palm Desert J’s Deli, Michelin Star Burgers and Fries from Le Burger by Camphor and Post & Beam
serving California comfort food from Los Angeles-based chef John Cleveland. Christian Page, also a Los Angeles-based chef, opened Love Love Lionel’s and Love Love Chicken.

Moto Pizza takes up a spot in Stadium 1, with the location facing both the concourse and the field, giving the Seattle-based purveyor of “weird pizza” its second sports location following its successful launch in T-Mobile Park in Major League Baseball. in Seattle.

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Stadium 2, known for its choice of restaurants, brings local Ristorante Mamma Gina and Topspin Bar to the patios, while highlighting year-round gourmet option Nobu, with views of the pitch. Fresh Agave Mexican Bar welcomes Stadium 2’s second restaurant with a view of the field since 2020.

Other local options on-site include Sherman’s Deli, John’s, Dragon Lili Boba Bar & Café, Chef Tanya’s Kitchen, Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream, and Coachella Valley Coffee.

“We had a great time working alongside a client partner deeply involved in the dining experience to curate a mix of new local partners and returning favorites that best capture the elevated vibe of Palm Springs and Paradise tennis”, Belinda Oakley, Sodexo Live! The CEO of North America, tells me. “Whether it’s Michelin-starred burgers, a new Beverly Hills restaurant or Japanese-inspired hot dogs, the options are truly endless this year. »

Throughout the grounds, Rua says they have added additional to-go stands with updated aesthetics and created special cups for to-go champagne that become souvenirs in their different colors.

Lee Kindell, owner of Moto Pizza, tells me he has completely rethought the way he creates food to maintain high quality while handling the crush of fans at an event that draws hundreds of thousands of fans. He did it with technology. Kindell designed its own custom molds so it could proof its dough for three days using its special fermentation process, plating, baking and refrigerating the pizza in the same pan. These 7,000 molds made especially for its process all pass through a robot manufactured by Picnic Pizza which precisely fills each pie.

“I’m going to apply what I’ve learned here at T-Mobile,” Kindell says. “We are absolutely killing it.”

The robot allows him to make 1,000 pizzas in three hours with just one employee, instead of needing 12 employees without the robot. Kindell, who previously used wood-fired ovens, says he was able to use the science of applying heat to adapt it to a wood-fired experience and produce a higher volume that allows him to meet the request for a two-sided stand to serve customers walking down the street. on the pitch and in the stadium hall 1.

The pies also proved very popular, especially the Kissd, with pepperoni, spicy sausage, mixed cheese and spiced honey.

Other trending items on the ground include Sumo Dog’s Japanese-inspired hot dogs – and their frozen beer featuring frozen foam to keep the beer 10° colder underneath – and Puesto burritos and nachos.

In the sequels, Sodexo Live! prepares the food on site, with 90% of the pastries for the entire venue made in the Stage 1 kitchen, and offers additional specialties for the suites, such as Richard Blais.

“We prepare high-end, authentic dishes in volume,” says Rua. “We teach (restaurant partners) how to do it in volume and build those relationships.”

Players’ meals

Part of the new contract included a complete overhaul of player meals. This is why the space is being redesigned, including the catering offer. Sodexo Live! has introduced new equipment and features Nobu chefs preparing sushi on site, making all pasta fresh in the space and a new grill and wood-fired pizza oven in the patio area to increase the options. The introduction of Coachella Valley Coffee in a gamer-only location has also proven popular with gamers.

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