Otsego alum cooks up ballpark appetizer
Written by JORDAN CRAVENS Sentinel Staff Writer
Tuesday, 04 June 2013 08:46
TOLEDO - Pass on the popcorn. Lose the stadium dog and ditch the salted pretzel.
|Dusten Brown at the Toledo Mud Hens baseball field where he is the head of food services. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Instead, replace these ballpark relics with crab cakes, lobster rolls, chicken fajitas, fresh cannoli, stromboli and handmade potato chips.
All of the above are offerings for the Toledo Mud Hens catering group, A Cut Above, for which Dusten Brown, a 2003 Otsego High School alumnus, serves as executive chef.
"We can do everything from hot dogs to high-end," said Brown from his kitchen at Fifth Third Field.
This week for the Sentinel-Tribune's Cook's Corner column, Brown shared his Summertime Bruschetta dish, which has made appearances on the Mud Hens catering menu.
The appetizer, featuring strawberries, crumbled goat cheese, arugula, honey and balsamic vinaigrette, has great texture and leaves the taster refreshed. The honey and vinaigrette coat the dish in a light glaze.
A career in the food industry has been a long time in the making for Brown. He has known he wanted to work in hospitality for many years.
"I sort of fell into it," he said. "When my mom was pregnant, I had to do a lot of the cooking at home. I really enjoyed doing it."
He attended culinary school in Portland, Ore., and then snagged an internship at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. He was there for a year and worked in a variety of positions including as a grill cook for award-winning chef Michael Mina's restaurant.
After Vegas, Brown moved back to northwest Ohio where he worked at Hilton Garden Inn at Levis Commons in Perrysburg. From there, he was promoted to sous chef at Hilton Garden Inn, downtown Cleveland. Next, he was again promoted to executive chef at the Hilton Garden Inn in Newburgh, New York.
Brown accepted his current position at Fifth Third Field in January.
"I've never done anything like this before, so I decided it would be a nice career change and allow me to move closer to home," Brown said.
Brown, the son of Debbie Archambo and Steve Brown, lives in Grand Rapids and has four sisters and a brother. He is the grandson of Wood County Commissioner Jim Carter.
One of his first assignments in his new position was to create a catering menu. He is also in charge of suite level menus and new items as well as picnic fare.
"We have changed our presentation around. Our food is more eye-appealing, in my opinion," he said.
One of the items Brown helped create was the Mud Hens take on Ho Hos. They also do customized birthday cakes with Muddy the Mud Hen on it.
"I have a very strong staff and I try to let them come up with some of their own ideas," he said.
During the season, Brown works long days. He and his staff have to be there early to prepare and stay through the fifth inning to make sure fans are taken care of and all is running smoothly.
In the off-season, Brown's schedule is less hectic and he focuses more on developing menu items and working on menus for business events, weddings and holiday parties at Fifth Third Field.
• French baguette
• Crumbled goat cheese
• Balsamic vinaigrette
Slice french baguette and
lightly toast. Dice strawberries.
Thinly slice arugula. Mix ingredients
in large bowl and spread on baguette.