Hand-shucked and char-grilled oysters with chorizo and queso Chihuahua. Blackened tuna mignon with banana-jalapeno fried rice. Ribeye steak with a Burgundy mushroom and shallot ragout.
Five-star resort in the Foothills? Nope. These dishes were spotted just steps away from the north endzone at Arizona Stadium, and the buzz they’ve created in the last week alone suggests there’s a hogg in the house.
That would be Matt Hogg, executive chef at the new Arizona Sands Club, and he’s leading a team of fellow culinarians who have completely reimagined stadium club dining.
Born and raised in the Lone Star State, this dedicated football fan and Texas Culinary Academy alumnus with nearly 20 years of food service experience trotted out to Tucson last year to head up kitchen operations at the member-driven Sands Club.
“I love working with this style of club because it allows me to draw from the many experiences I’ve had along my path, from restaurants, to hotels, to catering, to stadium clubs,” said Hogg. “This enables me to serve our members and guests with a variety of interests through some best practices that I’ve encountered.”
Hogg defines his style as simple elegance, while asserting, “I don’t need 15 items on a plate when three will get my point across.”
At the same time, since dining anchors the Sands Club’s culture, it must be both beautiful and memorable for Hogg’s point to stick no matter how many items, or how few, come together on the plate. And stick it has, given the community’s response to Hogg’s stadium club cuisine.
Among his key strategies for a winning menu is to capture several different techniques and flavor profiles to “cover as many palates as possible.” His new menu that launched earlier this week is a good example, with a mix of Asian, Southwestern, New American, and Southern-inspired dishes.
He also likes to play with modern expressions of classical dishes, “taking something that you’ve had a thousand times, putting a twist on it, and letting it perform in a way that’s totally different.”
Local is also a core value of Hogg’s. He proudly supports local food and beverage businesses and routinely incorporates them into his offerings. Some of the area purveyors that he’s worked with recently include Forbes Meat Company, Tucson Tamale, Screamery Ice Cream, and Barrio Bread.
In addition to its continental breakfast, lunch, and dinner service, the club hosts a series of special dining events that wrap around certain themes, including regularly scheduled pasta nights and prime rib nights. But perhaps the biggest night on Hogg’s calendar is his monthly Texas barbecue, where the wisdom of his native Waco drops down in Tucson.
“We’re fortunate to have smokers here onsite, so we can go low and slow with our brisket, ribs, chicken, and pork,” he said. “It’s about taking your time while letting those proteins break down and those flavors develop.”
I think Hogg and I are destined to become BFFs.
This private dining, lifestyle, and business networking club sits high atop the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility at Arizona Stadium, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the glorious gridiron to the south and the university campus and Catalina Mountains to the north. There’s also a full bar, a lobby lounge, co-working spaces, a boardroom, private event spaces, and outdoor patios.
For more information about the Arizona Sands Club and to schedule a private tour, call Courtney Miller at 520-955-2479, or Joseph Erceg at 520-471-3708.
And who knows? You just might get a Chef Matt Hogg celebrity sighting.
Contact Matt Russell, whose day job is CEO of Russell Public Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org. Russell is also the publisher of OnTheMenuLive.com as well as the host of the Friday Weekend Watch segment on the “Buckmaster Show” on KVOI 1030 AM.