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On the menu at Bethpage Black: 10,000 empanadas, 3,000 pounds of chicken

A staff of more than 150 will be cranking out buffet-style breakfasts, lunches and midday snacks to roughly 1,000 guests per day in the clubhouse.

Cook Ethan Tao at the Heritage Club kitchen

Cook Ethan Tao at the Heritage Club kitchen prepares food Friday in advance of the PGA Championship. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca

The brisket is marinating, the burgers and dogs are ready for the grill and the beer is on ice. 

The PGA Championship, which arrives this week at Bethpage State Park, is not only the epicenter of the golf world but a challenge of culinary logistics. 

An estimated 200,000 spectators, along with thousands of players, caddies, staffers, sponsors and volunteers, will descend on the Black Course — and someone's gotta feed them.

Bethpage's Heritage Club, managed by Lessing's Hospitality Group of Great River, will serve an estimated 15,000 meals during the tournament week, from omelet stations and waffles to Asian-style chicken wings and beef short ribs.

The volume is staggering.

The caterer expects to run through 3,000 pounds of chicken, 2,500 pounds of beef, 2,000 pounds of deli meats, 300 cases of Gatorade and 80 kegs of beer, said Billy Lodato, the Heritage Club's general manager.

It's a massive undertaking nearly 18 months in the making.

"We have been planning for this since Lessings took over the property," said Lodato, a Huntington native. "This is absolutely the highlight of the year for us."

Lessing's, which operates more than a dozen venues across Long Island and Manhattan, won a state contract to operate the Farmingdale catering hall in January 2018. Steve Carl, owner of Carlyle Catering, had operated the picturesque facility, with striking views overlooking the first and 18th holes of the Black Course, for nearly two decades.

The clubhouse, which has undergone a wall-to-wall renovation, will be put to the test during the championship tournament.

A staff of more than 150 waiters, bartenders, chefs and busboys will be cranking out buffet-style breakfasts, lunches and midday snacks to roughly 1,000 guests per day.

"When we were asked to put a menu together the one thing we kept in mind is that this is New York," Lodato said. "There's not one food genre that is specific to New York. It's a melting pot so we want to showcase Italian food, Latin American food and a traditional American station."

On Tuesday, Heritage will host the "Champions Dinner," in which 2018 PGA champion Brooks Koepka plans a meal for previous tournament winners and their families. The menu, picked by Koepka, the world's top ranked golfer, features mini grilled cheese sandwiches and oyster shooters; a spinach and goat cheese salad topped with fried pork belly lardons; and a choice of Long Island duck, branzino or Miyazaki wagyu beef imported from Japan. For dessert, a carrot cake with a cinnamon gelato.

Lessing's will operate a quartet of clubhouse rooms for meals and beverages.

The main ballroom will be converted into the PGA Hospitality Center, hosting 400 tournament bigwigs and corporate sponsors. Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and more than 250 other members of golf's elite, along with their families, will grab a bite inside the Oak Room. And an estimated 250 course-weary caddies will occupy space in the old pro shop.

There's only one room open to ticketed members of the general public — and it won't come cheap.

Beginning Thursday, when the championship begins, the Lenox Room will be transformed into the Empire Club, an upscale dining facility servicing 200 high-rollers. The package includes meals, a full-open bar, flat-screen TVs, preferred on-site parking and a private viewing suite behind the 18th green. The cost: a whopping $950 per day.

Fans in a different tax bracket will still be able to munch on grilled chicken sandwiches, Italian sausages, salads and wraps, courtesy of Levy Restaurants, a Chicago-based vending and food service company.

Levy will operate 20 concessions throughout the course, along with 28 private chalets that serve up to 300 guests, a pair of 500-person hospitality clubs and the Wanamaker Club sports bar, with availability for 5,000 patrons.

"It's like setting up a small city every year in a new location," said Matt Larson, Levy's tournament director.

Over the course of the week, Levy expects to sell 75,000 hot dogs, 17,700 chicken wings, 10,000 empanadas, 1,300 pounds of gyro meat, and 226,000 bottles of water, Larson said.

The company will also provide a nod to its host, with the "Taste NY" concession, featuring locally sourced ingredients. Some local favorites include Nathan's Famous hot dogs (Jericho), Satur Farms lettuce (Cutchogue), Schmitt Farms horseradish cream (Riverhead) and Blue Point Toaster Lager beer (Patchogue).

Bethpage is no stranger to hosting major golf tournaments.

The Black Course played host to both the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open and the Barclays, part of the FedEx Playoffs, in 2012 and 2016.

Heritage Club executive chef Paul Haizlip of Lake Grove said the key to hosting such a large event is preparation.

"You need to forecast well and be ready for the volume," said Haizlip, who led the kitchen during the 2016 Barclays. "Organization is the key."

It takes a lot of food to feed the fans, players, caddies, staff, sponsors and volunteers at the PGA Championship.

Bethpage's Heritage Club, managed by Lessings Hospitality Group, expects to use:

  • 3,000 pounds of chicken
  • 2,500 pounds of beef
  • 2,000 pounds of deli meats
  • 300 cases of Gatorade
  • 80 kegs of beer

Levy Restaurants, which runs the concessions and private dining facilities, expects to go through:

  • 75,000 hot dogs
  • 17,700 chicken wings
  • 10,000 beef short rib or ham and cheese empanadas
  • 6,300 Bavarian pretzels
  • 1,300 pounds of gyro meat
  • 226,000 bottles of water

Source: Lessings Hospitality Group; Levy Restaurants

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