When Michael Lockard, the executive chef of the U.S. Open, describes the food served at his event, he does it with evident pride.
“We have this shrimp pizzetta,” Lockard said of a $12.50 item available in the Food Village of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“It’s shrimp and a local farm’s arugula, shaved fennel. And we rub a thin, thin crust pizza dough with herb oil and parmesan cheese, crisp it up and put that salad on top.”
Chicago-based Levy Restaurants, the U.S. Open’s official caterer, appointed the 34-year-old East Hampton native to run its signature event in March.
Lockard polished his high-end culinary credentials for seven years at Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur Restaurant in Grand Central Terminal, and he had little time to ease into the job of supervising a 250-person team who by Sept. 9, the final day of the tournament, will have served some six tons of fruit and 9 1/2 tons of sirloin to fans, players and guests.
Not only does Lockard run the fan concessions and restaurants, he also makes sure the athletes get the nutrition they need before and after matches.
“We have a very carbohydrate-focused menu,” Lockard said of the players’ dining options, including stations for baked potatoes, pasta, sandwiches and smoothies, all of which can be customized.
“We have people jumping through hoops for them. The best food in the world is offered here for the players.”
The event’s drinking options are not under Lockard’s purview.
“I don’t deal with alcohol. Maybe after the event,” he said with a chuckle.
In his first year on the job, Lockard has pushed a green approach — salad greens grown at Satur Farms on Long Island”s North Fork, sustainable seafood choices, biodegradable paper goods, and the daily separation of an estimated 500 gallons of fryer oil for Tri-State Biodiesel, a New York-based company that provides clean fuel.
“Especially when you do this kind of volume, to do something for the neighborhood is great,” Lockard said.
And after weeks of 16-to-18 hour days, what will Lockard do on Sept. 10?
“We’ll re-evaluate what worked and what didn’t,” he said.
“Well, after sleeping.”