More than 1000 days since the MCG last hosted a grand final, an army of chefs, staff with clipboards and waiters have been racing to get ready for this year’s spectacle.
The  clash between the Geelong Cats and Sydney Swans will draw just over 100,000  spectators to the ground, plus thousands more to the parkland outside, Federation Square and pubs  across Melbourne, Geelong and Sydney.
Feeding those inside the ground and keeping drinks flowing is its own kind of physical feat: think of it as the catering olympics.
The G’s catering contractor Delaware North has employed 2,000-plus people to make the grand final extravaganza happen; they expect to sell 17,000 pies and sausage rolls, and 20,000 bottles of water.
This week, trucks also delivered 100,000 litres of Carlton Draught, Great Northern and craft beer from Carlton & United Breweries in Abbotsford to the ground. CUB’s Hayden Turner said Carlton Draught would be the bestseller, at 75,000 litres, but that mid-strength and craft options are becoming more popular.
Punters will also snap up 29,000 buckets of hot chips, plus a further 6,000 serves of chicken with chips.
But it’s not all fast food. Chefs also need to prepare 13,000 plated meals for those sitting down to knife-and-fork lunches.
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It may or may not come as a surprise to hear that beef is best on ground, whether it’s a one-kilogram Bass Strait T-bone steak in the Jim Stynes Grill, Gippsland beef two ways in one of the ground’s corporate dining rooms, or char-grilled Angus eye fillet from Guy Grossi in the Committee Room.
Grossi is the culinary jewel in the MCG’s crown after changes earlier this year to bring more local food into the stadium. The shuttering of Red Rooster upset some fans, but it has made way for local outfits like Royal Stacks burgers and Gami Chicken and Beer.
Businesses big and small across the state are also getting into the spirit of the finals. 
Ararat mother and part-time baker Bhumika Makawana baked 72 cupcakes with Cats and Swans icing, something she’s done for the last two years through her home business Omi’s Bakes. She’ll deliver the boxes personally on Saturday to those who purchased.
Meanwhile, major bakery Fergusson Plarre estimates sales of 20,000 AFL-themed cupcakes for the entire finals season, with nearly half those sales happening in the past three days.
Langford’s Patisserie in Mooroolbark has glazed doughnuts and iced cupcakes in both teams’ colours, as well as topping red velvet cakes with gold-dusted chocolate footballs. It opened doors early this morning for those shopping for last-minute party supplies.
Two pubs close to the MCG, The London Tavern and The Precinct Hotel, expect to go through at least double the amount of beer they’d sell on a normal Saturday, according to supplier CUB. Meanwhile, The Builders Arms in Fitzroy marked the return of the Grand Final to Melbourne with a sausage sizzle yesterday on Gertrude Street. 
On Sunday, a recovery party is happening at Austin’s Wines, a 25-minute drive from Geelong. A hundred people and counting have booked a spot for slow-cooked American barbecue and wine tastings. Owner Belinda Austin says the winery can only fit 150 people at a time so it will be a busy day.
“The weather is also looking fantastic so we can’t wait to (hopefully) celebrate the Cats’ win!” 
with Gail Thomas
The MCG expects to serve:
17,000 Four’n Twenty pies and sausage rolls
29,000 servings of hot chips
6000 portions of chicken and chips
20,000 bottles of water
12,000 soft drinks
6000 confectionery items
13,000 plated meals to 6,750 corporate diners
CUB delivered:
1500 kegs of beer
100,000 litres of beer in total
Sources: Delaware North; CUB