The next time you're devouring a Dodger Dog at Dodger Stadium, you can thank Jason Tingley. He's the executive chef of the stadium, and you can usually spot him walking around the different levels, wearing a chef's hat and coat. With his background in fine dining (Patina, L'Orangerie, Water Grill), Tingley has his sights on more than just hot dogs. He's making slow-cooked barbecued brisket, basil aioli and roasted heirloom tomato hot dog toppings and vegan nachos, and he's developing a Dodger Dog pizza, a 16-inch pizza with a Dodger Dog crust. He also has a special power when it comes to hot dogs. Tingley claims he can walk around the stadium, taste hot dogs from each vendor and tell the difference among them. During the Dodgers' recent clobbering of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Tingley took a break from the game to talk hot dogs, his first job in the kitchen and Polish kishka.
What do you put on your hot dog? I like mustard and onions. We're thinking about doing some sauerkraut at a couple stands. My favorite dogs are the Brooklyn Dodger Dogs with deli-style mustard. And my real favorite hot dog is in the Stadium Club. It's a ripper we drop into the deep fryer and top with cornichons, basil aioli, a little bit of mustard and some roasted baby heirloom tomatoes.
First job in the kitchen? After high school I was fortunate enough to get a job at the Ritz Carlton [now Langham Hotel] in Pasadena. My dad was friends with the general manager. I was terribly green. I was so green that when I was put on the salad station, I went to the bar to get red wine because I had to make red wine vinaigrette. I actually poured red wine into it. The chef let me do it like four times, then finally told me it was red wine vinegar I had to use.
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Most challenging part of being the Dodger Stadium executive chef? I really want to knock things up a notch, and I kind of get a little carried away with some of the food. Maybe it just needs to be a bit simpler. Making sure I hit food cost scares me. When you make a mistake, it's not just one small restaurant. We're talking big dollars.
If you could have dinner with anyone, whom would it be and what would you eat? Someone like Andrew Zimmern, who has eaten the weirdest things ever. Or Martin Luther King Jr. — someone who has really set history and this country in motion for a good thing. Food-wise, honest to God, I'm a mama's boy. She's 100% Polish, so it's kishka and her stuffed cabbage.
Absolute favorite thing to eat, ever? For some reason, people think I have a refined palate. I don't. The taco truck to me is the pinnacle of what comfort and great food is. It would be the taco truck on Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena. I've been going to that place since 1986, ordering the al pastor and lengua tacos.