WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Celebrity chef Malcolm Mitchell created a special dish for Verizon IndyCar Series driver Simon Pagenaud during the Month of May in Indianapolis. But the French driver didn’t get a chance to try the stuffed tomato, inspired by Pagenaud’s grandmother’s recipe, until this weekend at The Milwaukee Mile.
Mitchell had traveled to Indianapolis to cook for Pagenaud, who was serving as the honorary chair of Rev, a strolling food event for 2,000 that kicks off the Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But, while Pagenaud was busy answering reporter’s questions and posing for photos, the party guests snatched up every last tomato.
“It ran out. It was such a hit,” said Mitchell, who met Pagenaud for the first time when he was brought in for the event. “He was doing all this media stuff, he didn’t get a chance to taste it. So, I’m going to make it for him tomorrow.”
The solution to the foodie problem came when Pagenaud and Team Penske chef Dave Ellis invited Mitchell, best known as a finalist on the eighth season of "Food Network Star," to Milwaukee for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers. Mitchell cooked with Ellis and, at the same time, learned about racing and cooking for a traveling racing team, too.
“I learned a lot because I’ve never cooked in a trailer before. So that was a great experience,” said Mitchell, who also owns Costa Brava in Washington, D.C., and Mint Gastropub in Richmond, Va. “I’ll be honest with you, this trailer is almost better than my kitchen in my restaurant. It’s actually bigger and they have more equipment.”
In addition to cooking for 80 Team Penske crew members, Mitchell and Ellis also teamed up to produce a gourmet lunch for media at The Mile. It wasn’t the usual racetrack fare. Rather than hot dogs and French fries, they served marinated grilled flank steak, roasted Brussels sprouts, beet salad and croissant bread pudding with banana Nutella for desert.
When race day comes, though, Mitchell will trade the pots and pans for a set of headphones in Pagenaud’s pit. That way, said Pagenaud, the chef will be able to “see what’s going on in my kitchen.”