Phillip Baxman Delivers for Hungry Soccer Fans

The executive chef for FC Cincinnati loves the sport as much as he loves to cook.
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Phillip Baxman’s long, winding career through the wilds of the culinary scene landed him right where he wanted to be—cooking while enjoying a sport he’s loved for years. We talked to him about reinterpreting fine dining for soccer fans and how Microsoft Excel is still useful in the culinary world.

Illustration by Chris Danger

What made you make the move away from the fine dining scene? 

I don’t necessarily feel that I have left the fine dining scene; I’ve only changed venues. I not only have the opportunity to create fine dining food and a fine dining experience through private events, but I look for ways to incorporate those techniques and mentality into our everyday business.

Describe an average day at the stadium. 

The days leading up until the match are all about the 5 Ps—proper planning prevents poor performance. We ensure that all food is prepped as close to the day of the match as possible to highlight the freshness and quality of the product. The day of the match is all about execution. We create a detailed timeline that we follow as we execute cooking and distribution of food for up to 50-plus suites, two all-inclusive clubs, three additional club lounges, stadium media and staff, and our concessions. Once all the food is in the respective areas, [I] walk all of the suites while the senior sous and sous chef walk the clubs and concessions to review final details.

What’s it like cooking for a sporting venue? 

Such an amazing feeling walking through these doors every day. The atmosphere is unlike any other place that I’ve worked.

What would you say is the most popular food item at the stadium? 

Some of our most popular items are the schnitzel sandwich from Rhine Roost in concessions and Noonan’s Nine Layer Nachos, named after FCC coach Pat Noonan, in the First Financial Club.

What are some of the “must taste” items on your menu? 

I suggest checking out the offerings at Smokhaus in concessions, which features smoked brisket and smoked pork, among others.

Soccer is such a big sport internationally. Does that play any role in your cooking (dishes, ingredients, etc.)?

We try to pay homage to each team by creating a competition battle burger. For example, when FCC played CF Montreal, we created a poutine burger.

Which skills do you use regularly in your current role that you acquired from previous positions? 

There are many skills that I have acquired over my career, all could be argued as the most valuable and all used regularly. However, I have to say that the use of Excel has been such a valuable tool.

What’s the most surprising thing about the work you’re doing now? 

I can’t say that I’m that surprised by anything that I’ve seen here. I have worked in a kitchen for close to 23 years now and have seen many, many things. However, I must say that I am pleasantly surprised with how cohesive a team I have here. The culture and environment throughout the ranks makes me want to come to work every day, knowing that I get to do what I am passionate about (food) every single day in an environment that I love (sports) in a culture that is based off of diversity and inclusivity being led by a great manager. That is a great feeling.

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