Hungry fans at this week’s Charlotte Motor Speedway races can sample the latest treat from speedway executive chef Shawn McFalls: A sweet potato casserole funnel cake that weighs up to 1 1/2 pounds.
It packs 1,078 calories, the equivalent of two Big Macs.
McFalls invented a recipe that blends sweet potatoes with funnel cake batter, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and ground cloves.
The doughy delight is topped with marshmallow cream and pecans marinated in maple syrup, sweet potato, vanilla and brown sugar.
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“I’ve been waiting to make this since last fall,” McFalls said Thursday.
The 39-year-old Kannapolis resident wanted to make a pumpkin funnel cake, then discovered at the N.C. State Fair that five vendors already offered one.
McFalls produced what is “literally the best funnel cake when people try it. Marcus Smith is raving about it. ‘The best I’ve ever had,’ and he loves funnel cakes,” McFalls said of the chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports Inc.
The funnel cake adds to the pantheon of culinary creations McFalls has dished out at the speedway, from candied-bacon lollipops to 7-pound burgers to smoked short ribs “with extremely hot hot sauce they had to sign waivers for. The funnel cake is now my favorite.”
McFalls started in the food service industry as a dishwasher at a Kannapolis bakery at age 15.
He has spent most of his career with Levy Restaurants, the speedway’s food service provider. He joined the company part-time in 1992 and has been with Levy full-time since 1999.
He also did a two-year stint as sous chef for Dean & Deluca at Phillips Place in Charlotte.
Before his daughter was born in 2007, McFalls traveled from track to track as chef for Bruton Smith, Marcus’ dad and executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports. Bruton chose simpler fare: fried catfish, corn dogs and ice cream bars, McFalls said.
As for the sweet potato casserole funnel cake, at $7 it’s guaranteed to be lighter on the wallet than the tummy.