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Posted by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

By Phyllis M. Cahaly, CMD, Director of Partnership Marketing, Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Header Photo by Maddie Malhotra, Boston Red Sox

Jump to recipe for Chef Ron’s Original Vegetable Tartine with Basil Whipped Ricotta, Tomato Coulis on Sourdough Crostini

Jump to April Calendar of Culinary Events

In just a few days, on April 9, to be exact, 37,755 fans will converge on Fenway Park, Major League Baseball’s oldest park, for Opening Day, their love for the Boston Red Sox in common. One other thing they’ll have in common is that they will all be fed by one man, Senior Executive Chef Ron Abell of Fenway Park/Aramark.

Chef Ron Abell, a native of Braintree, Massachusetts, was classically trained at some of Boston’s high-end restaurants like Biba, Maison Robert and The Parker House long before arriving at Fenway Park.  A graduate from Blue Hills High School Vocational Culinary Program, culinary was actually his third choice (following structural wood and metal fabrication). His early cooking career started in Braintree at Bella’s and later at Vin & Eddie’s Ristorante & Bar, Abington. He furthered his culinary career by attending the prestigious Johnson & Wales Culinary University in Providence, Rhode Island.

After executing Boston’s fine dining scene, and ready for a change, Chef Ron took a job as a private chef to the founder and president of the Marriott Corporation. Cruising and cooking all along the Eastern Seaboard and West Indies on a motor yacht was just another day in the kitchen to Chef Ron.

An athlete at heart, (it’s Pickleball all day now), Chef Ron grew up playing tennis and skiing all over New England and even raced mountain bikes in his early 30’s. His skiing skills came in handy when he worked in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and literally skied to work every day at La Poge Restaurant.

“I’m a chef and a ski bum at heart,” says Chef Ron. “My parents owned Elm Ski Shop and later Ski Town USA, both in Braintree and we would travel and ski all over Massachusetts and New England, that was my first love.”

Chef Abell then returned to the East Coast as Chef de Cuisine at Icarus Restaurant in Boston’s South End and was invited to cook at the celebrated James Beard House in Manhattan.  At this juncture he was thinking of opening his own restaurant when he learned of the opening for top chef at Fenway Park and the rest, like everything else at Fenway Park, is history!

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 30: A general view as the sun rises before the 2023 Opening Day Game game between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles on March 30, 2023 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kellan Reck/Boston Red Sox) *** Local Caption ***

Sunrise at Fenway Park, Photo by Kellan Reck, Boston Red Sox

For the last 17 years, Chef Ron has supervised every culinary aspect at Fenway Park and all the staff needed to prepare and execute the food that keeps Red Sox Nation fed throughout the season. He’s also responsible for all the on-site and off-site catering as well.

April 18, 2023, Boston, MA:Premium offerings in the Dell Technologies Club are shown at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts Tuesday, April 18, 2023. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox)

Premium offerings at Dell Technology Club, Photo by Maddie Malhotra, Boston Red Sox

“I oversee the whole ballpark; it’s a crazy undertaking and I strongly rely on the great team of sous chefs I have and the amazing personnel who work with me. It can be super difficult in the food industry to find and hire the right people and knock on wood, I have been so lucky with my staff, “says Chef Ron. “I have had incredible retention over the years.  We have six different kitchens, four restaurants and 65 private suites. I have a great team and I couldn’t do it without them.”

April 29, 2023, Boston, MA: Fans crowd the concourse in honor of Taco and Tequila Fest before a game against the Cleveland Guardians at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts Saturday, April 29, 2023. (Photo by Jaiden Tripi/Boston Red Sox)

Tacos at Fenway, Photo by Jaiden Tripi, Boston Red Sox

Personable Chef Ron boasts a certain pride in his staff which he fondly refers to as “My Kids”. In fact, one of his favorite parts of his job is fostering the careers of his staff, watching, teaching and helping them grow over the years.

At every home game, Chef Ron is also feeding the sports media, the Red Sox Front Office, the players’ wives and guests at the premium clubs like the Dell Technologies Club, the Ford Clubhouse, the Aura Pavilion and the Royal Rooters Club.

A variety of tasty treats sit on a plate overlooking the field at Fenway Park.

Premium Dining, Photo by Billie Weiss, Boston Red Sox

“It’s like a big machine,” says Chef Ron. “Once the season and the games start, we go from 0 to 300 mph so we’re moving and we can’t stop to change the tires while the car is running. It’s like opening a new restaurant every year but it’s very different from any stand-alone restaurant. I have a staff of 120 culinarians for the premium clubs alone with 10 sous chefs. I really depend on the people and over the years I’ve gotten much better at managing this great staff and learning how to merge their different approaches to food, different work ethics and different career paths.

Like the Sox themselves, it’s all about teamwork in the hospitality world at Fenway. That includes back-of-the house premium chefs, hundreds of stand-selling hawkers, (“Hey, hot dogs here!”), grill cooks, fry cooks, prep cooks, concessions, and more – it’s massive and it’s seamless. Last year’s regular season alone sold 550,000 hot dogs, 10,000 lobster rolls and 16,000 pounds of French fries!

January 2, 2023, Boston, MA: Fans wait in line for concession stands on the kids concourse during the 2023 Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts Monday, January 2, 2023. (Photo by Rachel O’Driscoll/Boston Red Sox)

Concorse at Fenway Park, Photo by Rachael O’Driscoll, Boston Red Sox

During the off-season, Chef Ron is testing and engineering menus and right now he and his staff, just back from Red Sox spring training in Fort Myers, are putting the finishing touches on the 2024 Fenway Park menu and you are in for a treat! This year, Chef Ron has developed some new items to carry us through nine or more innings like: Irish Nachos complete with hand-cut potato chips, corned beef, Russian dressing, scallions, and a drizzle of sour cream. You’ll also find a comforting boneless fried chicken bowl adorned with whipped potatoes, gravy, and corn on the new menu too!

While lobster rolls have been a staple at Fenway for years, Chef Ron has sourced a new supplier this year, Luke’s Lobster. Rounding out the menu are all-time favorites like smash burgers, pizza, nachos, steak & cheese, chicken steak & cheese, sausages, peanuts and, of course, the unparalleled, unbeatable, ever-present King of the Park, the Fenway Frank!

A delicious lobster roll and some potato chips on a ceramic plate.

Premium Lobster Roll, Photo by Maddie Malhotra, Boston Red Sox

Chef Ron is delighted to point out that his ‘Official Red Sox Sponsors’ like Kayem, Sal’s Pizza, Luke’s Lobster, Grillo’s Pickles and Savenor’s Butcher & Grocer – yes, that Savenor’s, of Julia Child fame – are all top-notch, high-quality suppliers hand chosen to bring fans the absolute best in ballpark food.

Sausages and fenway franks, along with toppings lie in a grill ready to eat.

Lunch at Fenway, Photo by Billie Weiss, Boston Red Sox

“Our philosophy is to keep it simple. No Fruit Loops on hot dogs, no foamy, scientific food. Just simple, high-quality ingredients prepared in a straightforward but delicious way. We are fortunate to have such great partners and sponsors who provide incredible ingredients to work with,” says Chef Ron who seven years ago, reached out to Savenor’s of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and asked if they would like to work with Fenway Park/Aramark. More than a conductor of kitchens, Chef Ron is always on the lookout for partnerships, new ideas and thinking about what’s next.

June 8, 2023, Boston, MA:Food and beverage items are displayed in the premium suites at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts Thursday, June 8, 2023. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox)

Fenway Favorites, Photo by Billie Weiss, Boston Red Sox

“We listen to our fans and we do provide some very healthy options, but a lot of people come here to get off of their diet for the day and enjoy a Fenway Frank, some fries, and some beer – hey, you’re at the ballpark!” says Chef Ron. “But don’t worry, we try hard to take care of everybody, every palate and every craving.

A glass filled with a premium cocktail overlooking the field of Fenway Park.

Premium Beverage, Photo by Maddie Malhotra, Boston Red Sox

With year-round functions such as weddings, birthday parties, corporate outings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and special events like Fenway Concert Series, Frozen Fenway, Football at Fenway and more, there’s not much down time for Chef Ron. His world is abuzz with product feedback, staffing, menu planning, cooking, cost analysis, and product tracking, yet he need not travel farther than about 200 feet for a respite. That’s where Fenway Farms is located, an organic, urban rooftop garden on the third base side of the ballpark above Jersey Street. It is filled with a chef’s delight of carefully curated vegetation lovingly grown and cared for by Green City Growers of Somerville, Massachusetts.

June 16, 2023, Boston, MA:Sponsor signage is displayed during the game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. Friday, June 16, 2023. (Photo by Nick Grace/Boston Red Sox)

Fenway Farms Organic Rooftop Garden, Photo by Nick Grace, Boston Red Sox

“In season, I like to go up there early in the morning, it’s so peaceful and the crops bring me great ideas and inspiration because what grows together goes together in cooking. Annually, we yield around 6,000 pounds of organic produce, in the spring it’s baby vegetables like carrots, turnips, lettuces, beets, arugula, and strawberries. Then we move into summer crops like peppers, basil, eggplant, summer squash, and round out the fall season with chards, kales, and green beans,” says Chef Ron. “The growers do a fantastic job and we are so lucky to have this rooftop garden. We know exactly how the products were grown and washed; we have complete control of this gorgeous vegetation.”

August 1, 2019 , Boston, MA:Aramark Executive Chef Ron Abell speaks with guests while celebrating Fenway Farm's 5th season at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts Thursday, August 1, 2019. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox)

Chef Ron at Fenway Farms, Photo by Maddie Malhotra, Boston Red Sox

Chef Ron loves the seasonality of Fenway Farms and loves to visit local farms, in fact, he’s hoping to explore more of the farms in Western Massachusetts this summer. He enjoys finding new products, getting in the kitchen with his staff and cooking up a storm.

April 5, 2019 , Boston, MA: Fenway Park head chef Ron Abell presents new dishes to local media in the Dell EMC Club at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts Friday, April 5, 2019. (Photo by Reginald Thomas II/Boston Red Sox)

Dell Club, Photo by Reginald Thomas II, Boston Red Sox

“I never want to lose my connection with my staff and we’ve had some amazing times together over the years. Like when Big Papi called me up one day from Baltimore during that very special 2013 season and asked me to cater a party at his house before and after each playoff series and one big party after we won the World Series,” recalls Chef Ron. “That 2013 team with David Ortiz at the wheel knew they were destined to win the World Series for Boston that year and nothing was going to get in their way and that’s just what they did. My entire staff and I were the last ones to leave the party, we were hanging around the fire pit with Big Papi just listening to him tell baseball stories. We’ll never forget that.”

Golden pretzels in a rotating toaster, ready to eat.

Fenway Pretzels, Photo by Maddie Malhotra, Boston Red Sox

Chef Ron has hundreds of once-in-a-lifetime stories in his repertoire, like running into superstars all around the ballpark as he maneuvers his way through the logistical challenges of MLB’s oldest ballpark. His days and nights are jam-packed and sometimes when he gets home, he realizes he hasn’t eaten in almost 12 hours! So what does Chef Ron turn to? Desserts!

“I love my desserts and I have a sweet tooth. I have a fantastic pastry chef here and even though I shouldn’t be eating them late at night, I do like to get my sugar fix and grab a few chocolate chip cookies, brownies and blondies on my way home,” concedes Chef Ron. “But most of the time, I am eating clean, simple food. I do cook for myself and I make a lot of egg whites, avocados and chicken. During a homestand there’s not much in my fridge so I love it when others come over. I’m pretty easy to cook for and it’s fun to cook together with friends and family, I really like that.”

Baseball is Chef Ron’s favorite sport and his love for the Boston Red Sox is strong, although during a homestand he doesn’t get to watch much of the game. “When I’m visiting the suites or moving around the park, I may take a glance out at the field, but I’m not really watching the game when I’m at Fenway. Once they hit the road, that’s when I’m able to relax and watch the game.”

Play Ball!

Jersey Street, Photo by Nick Grace, Boston Red Sox



Chef Ron’s Original Vegetable Tartine with Basil Whipped Ricotta, Tomato Coulis on Sourdough Crostini

 

Download a PDF of this recipe

Herb Whipped Ricotta

  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 cup picked basil leaves (full packed cup)
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup sliced chives
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

In a blender puree basil leaves, chopped chives, & olive oil until herbs are a smooth paste.

Add ricotta to mixing bowl. Pour in herb mixture and lemon juice. Wisk together until ricotta becomes a bright green color. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

Garlic Toast

  • 8 slices of sour dough bread
  • 1 garlic glove
  • Olive oil
  • salt

Cut slices of sour dough bread ¾  inch thick. Toss bread in olive oil. Grill (pan searing works as well) bread on both sides about 1 minute on each side. Rub one side of crostini with garlic clove and sprinkle with salt. Let bread cool.

 

Toasted Pine Nuts

  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Small pinch salt

Toss pine nuts in a bowl with olive oil and salt. Roast in oven at 325 degrees for 3 min. Set aside.

 

Seared Golden Zucchini

  • 2 each golden zucchini (smaller in width the better, green zucchini or Japanese eggplant also work well)
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Slice golden zucchini in ½ inch rounds. Toss with oil, salt & pepper. Sear on medium high heat for 1 min on both sides, you can grill it as well. Set aside and let cool at room temp.

 

Tomato coulis

  • 1 pt cherry tomato
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 spring thyme
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon champagne vinegar

Toss cherry tomatoes, garlic clove, and thyme with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven at 325 until tomato skin begins to shrivel and they collapse a bit, remove from oven. Once tomatoes cool slightly puree all ingredients in the blender until smooth. This recipe with make a bit more than needed but it holds well in the fridge and it’s great on salads, grilled or roasted vegetables and grilled chicken.

 

Assembly

To build toast. Take each grilled bread triangle and smear herbed ricotta on one side. Shingle sliced zucchini on top of ricotta. Drizzle tomato coulis lightly over the toasted. Garnish toasts with chopped pine nuts, picked basil leaves, and chive flowers. Finish with olive oil lightly drizzled on top.


April Culinary Events

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