Menus highlight local flavors and infuse future-facing robotics technology to provide a memorable guest experience

NEW ORLEANS, La. (April 1, 2022) – Today, Sodexo Live!, the leading hospitality partner to the world’s most iconic venues, announced an array of specialty menu options for college basketball’s championship weekend festivities in New Orleans. Among the top highlights for the expected 100,000+ fans is an innovative, game-changing appearance for Picnic, the next-generation automated pizza assembly station that is sure to turn heads and get fans back to their seats quicker to enjoy the action. 

Sodexo Live! – the exclusive catering partner to the Caesars Superdome, Smoothie King Center, Champions Square and Morial Convention Center – has deep local ties to New Orleans. The company is known for serving creative and exciting menu items ranging from alligator sausage and fresh Gulf shrimp to Cajun gumbo and Ponchatoula strawberries. Its menus boast flavorful, authentic southern and Creole dishes, earning accolades from fans and visitors. Recognized by The Daily Meal as the #1 NFL stadium in a recent "15 Best Stadiums for Food” feature, the venue also ranks regularly at the top of gameday experiences for fans. 

This is the tenth time Sodexo Live! has hosted the championship event, sixth in New Orleans and second time in a row after last year’s festivities in Indianapolis. This year’s event also entails the Fan Fest at the nearby Morial Convention Center. 

Our team, made up of employees exclusively from the surrounding region, is incredibly excited for this top-tier event, and our approach has certainly been enhanced to meet the moment, said Steve Pangburn, CEO, Sodexo Live! North America. From the automated Picnic Pizza Station, which will free our staff up to focus on other fan-facing tasks, to the basketball-themed items, we know everything will be a slam-dunk for college basketball fans to enjoy.

With tens of thousands of out-of-town guests visiting the Crescent City known for some of the best food in the world, it is important that the local flavors and essence of New Orleans is a part of their visit here in the Caesars Superdome for the game, said Zane Collings General Manager for the Caesars Superdome. Sodexo Live!’s long time service in New Orleans is sure to shine through.

An array of local brands will be served throughout the weekend, including Faubourg Brewing Co, Zatarain’s, Haydel's Bakery, Leidenheimer Bakery, New Orleans Fish House, American Seafood, Thompson Meat Packers, Tony Chachere's and more. A specialty cocktail will also be served for fans at the stadium – the Slam Dunk Spritz – consisting of champagne served over ice, garnished with a dried orange wheel and rosemary. 

Automated Robotic Pizza Innovation

Together, Sodexo Live! and Picnic continue to be catalysts in exploring the future of food through innovation and automation. From T-Mobile Park in Seattle to the Las Vegas Convention Center, and now the Caesars Superdome, the collaboration has pushed the envelope for robotic, automated pizza production and is setting a new paradigm for this type of fan-facing innovation. This weekend, the Picnic station will be in the Miller Lite Pub, dishing out pizza slices and whole pizzas, at a rate of up to 100 12-inch pizzas per hour. 
Picnic was founded on the belief that automation in food service can help address the challenges of food waste and labor shortages while increasing profitability. This latest collaboration with Sodexo Live! is another step forward in showcasing our shared partnership goals and beliefs that kitchen innovation improves the experiences for staff and guests, said Clayton Wood, CEO of Picnic.

Culinary Excellence

Leading the culinary efforts for this weekend at the Caesars Superdome is Chef Lenny Martinsen, who has also hosted multiple Super Bowls at the venue, plus the college football national championship, top-tier concerts, the annual Sugar Bowl and more. 

Chef Lenny also oversees a WBL (work-based learning) program for local students who aspire to work in the culinary field. The trainees get certified in ServSafe food handling, in partnership with the National Restaurant Association. 

Among Chef’s locally-inspired highlights of the gameday menu for this weekend include fan-favorite items on the general concourses:

  • Cajun Shrimp Salad Sandwich: served on a Leidenheimer Bakery Pistolette and served with housemade kettle chips
  • Creamy NOLA Mac and Cheese: topped with goldfish crumbles and chopped green onions, and the option of added roast beef debris
  • Jumbo Muffuletta Po'boy: ham, capicola, salami, provolone, swiss, olive salad
  • NOLA Seafood Nachos: shrimp and crawfish in a spicy queso, topped with jalapeños, and chopped green onions
  • Cajun Sausage and Italian Sausage: served with onions and peppers on a locally-made Leidenheimer Bakery Pistolette
  • Super Dog: ½ pound footlong, topped with bacon jam, cheddar cheese and hurricane remoulade sauce
  • Double Stack Bacon Jam Burger: served with kettle chips

Experienced Leadership

The Sodexo Live! team in New Orleans, hosting this event for the sixth time, is led by Senior Vice President Susan Fink and Regional Vice President Steve Trotter. 

Sodexo Live! General Managers Kernell Jupiter at the Caesars Superdome and Lisa Trainor at the Morial Convention Center, and Executive Chefs Lenny Martinsen and Brandon Felder, are all also deeply embedded in Louisiana, and bring experienced tenures to the operations this weekend.

Between them, this group of leaders has 200+ years of industry experience. 

Caring for the Community

Sodexo Live! is committed to donating excess food at the end of the event to local groups like the Second Harvest Food Bank and New Orleans Mission

A regular steward of the local community, the team stepped up during the direct aftermath of Hurricane Ida, serving ~25,000 meals to the National Guard, distributing MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) to 17 locations throughout the city and feeding staff and patients at the Medical Needs Shelter within the convention center (for ~500 patients in need of dialysis, oxygen machines and other essential equipment). 

About Sodexo Live!

Sodexo Live! manages prestigious conference, cultural, and sporting venues and major events all over the world. With 40,000 employees and 500 sites, we are strategic and responsible partners, committed to unlocking our customers’ full potential while favoring local communities. Sodexo Live! contributes to the success of prestigious events such as Royal Ascot, the Tour de France, the Rugby World Cup and soon the Paris 2024 Games, and showcases exceptional venues such as the Eiffel Tower Restaurants, the Hard Rock Stadium, Bateaux Parisiens, Yachts de Paris, the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Prado Museum in Madrid and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. 

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