The ability of a ballpark food item to stand out comes down not only to its taste, but its unique characteristics. A meal that reflects its surroundings by drawing inspiration from local taste and culture always resonates, giving fans a memorable alternative to standard ballpark fare.
At Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians, the Paramageddon fits this bill, as it not only offers a high level of quality but reflects a remarkable effort of collaboration. For those reasons, the Parmageddon has been chosen as Ballpark Digest’s Best Food Item for 2016.
Based on its ingredients alone, the Parmageddon is a notable entry in the ballpark concession landscape. It is a grilled-cheese sandwich that features a potato and onion pierogi, sautéed onions, and Napa vodka kraut. Paramageddon is a signature item at Melt Bar and Grilled, which has several locations throughout Ohio and a stand at Progressive Field.
“Having a restaurant in the ballpark is first and foremost, the coolest thing ever,” said Matt Fish, the founder and owner of Melt Bar and Grilled. Its name alone gives Paramageddon—combination of Parma, OH and Armageddon—a distinct local connection.
However, the sandwich features a heavy emphasis on local tastes. “Perogies are near and dear to Clevelanders’ hearts,” said Fish. “It’s an enormous comfort food town. We like big food, and big comforting food. This sandwich kind of sums all of that up. It’s essentially a big, bad grilled cheese sandwich.”
Ensuring that the Paramgeddon maintains its flavor at the ballpark requires a specific process. Delaware North, the concessionaire for Progressive Field, must collaborate with Fish and Melt Bar and Grilled to produce the restaurant’s items at the ballpark. Since the sandwich was added to Progressive Field’s menu in 2015, Fish has worked closely with ballpark staff at the beginning of each season, assisting chefs and concession workers and showing how to prepare the meal.
“It’s instrumental to have them come in and train our staff,” said Joshua Ingraham, Delaware North’s executive chef at Progressive Field. “As the executive chef, I feel very lucky to be in this situation where I have well-known chefs in the community come into the kitchen and train our staff. It makes us better.”
This past season was Ingraham’s first at Progressive Field, which has been renovated in recent years to diversify the ballpark’s food options. The local culinary scene has been driving force behind additions such as the Right Field District and the Infield District, and Ingrahram credits local chefs like Fish for enhancing the operations at Progressive Field.
“Having all these chefs come in and help train on their brand has helped make us stronger,” he said. “That is what Matt Fish has done, and he has been successful in spending time with our staff.”
For his part, Fish embraces his partnership with Ingraham and Delaware North. “Really, partnering with them has been amazing. They have really owned the brand, and taken on our sandwiches. We rely on Delaware North to keep the consistency and brand recognition up, and they do a fantastic job.”
The item has proven to be a major success. Before winning this award from Ballpark Digest, the Parmageddon was honored in several other contests, including a USA Today contest that took place during the 2016 season.
Ingraham says that the success of the Parmageddon has a lot to do with its local connections. “The fans enjoy being able to eat local within the ballpark. It’s been great for our kitchen staff to produce food at a higher level, and to collaborate with these local chefs.”
Images courtesy Melt Bar and Grilled.
Previous 2016 Award Winners:
Organization of the Year: Main Street Baseball
Editor’s Choice: Fort Bragg Field
Team of the Year: Birmingham Barons
Executive of the Year: Chris Allen, Tennessee Smokies
Charity Award: Omaha Storm Chasers
Promotion of the Year: My Big Fat Fresno Wedding Show
Best New Logo/Branding: Columbia Fireflies
Best Ballpark Renovation (Over $10 Million): The Outfield Apartments
Best Ballpark Improvement (Over $1 Million): The Choctaw Lazy River
Best Ballpark Improvement (Under $1 Million): The Perch
Broadcaster of the Year: Sean Aronson, St. Paul Saints
Ballpark of the Year: Spirit Communications Park