Pete Alonso knows how to step up to the plate — on and off the field.
The animated Mets slugger has delighted the Amazin’s usually downtrodden fans this season by already breaking the team’s rookie home run record, winning the midseason Home Run Derby, and bringing a sense of youth and fun to the now-surging franchise. With 38 homers under his belt, the first baseman is making a compelling case for Rookie of the Year.
But Alonso’s also in the running for a lesser-known Major League Baseball title: the Biggest Gourmet.
“If baseball doesn’t work out, I think I could probably be a food critic,” Alonso tells The Post. “I think I have a pretty advanced palate.”
The 24-year-old Tampa, Fla., native is an adventurous chef who hunts and cooks his own food in the offseason, and he uses his baseball schedule to sample regional delicacies throughout the country.
“I love to cook. I specialize in preparing meat, and I don’t discriminate one bit. I am willing to try anything.”
He means it: “I’ve eaten squirrel before. I love wild game,” says 6-foot-3 Alonso. “I love the taste of elk, bison and pretty much anything with antlers. I’ve had rabbit and duck tongue.”
Although he says he’s skilled on the stove, he prefers to prepare his favorite cuts of meat — “any sort of backstrap or tenderloin” — on his Big Green Egg, a popular smoker-grill hybrid.
Unlike his approach in the batter’s box, which requires absolute precision, Alonso likes to freestyle in the kitchen.
“I never really follow any recipes. I feel like food is just like art, because you can cook the same thing but in a different way every time,” he says.
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Alonso began cultivating his bold taste buds when he was a tot. Unlike his peers, he wasn’t interested in ordering chicken nuggets and buttered noodles.
“It wasn’t that I wasn’t allowed to eat off the kids’ menu, it’s just that I didn’t want to. Every little boy wants to be like his dad, and I would see my dad order, and he isn’t a picky eater.”
So, like his dad — also named Peter — Alonso developed a hankering for shellfish and steak.
“People were shocked [to see this] 4-year-old eating mussels. Not many 4-year-old kids are going to be eating raw oysters and steak medium-rare, but I was.”
His grandfathers also helped him develop his appetite.
“My grandpa, he was a big hunter. So I grew up eating deer venison, jerky and sausage,” says Alonso of his mother’s father, Joe Morgan, who passed away before his grandson was drafted by the Mets, in 2016. “I would always catch fish in the backyard and cook it up. In the spring, he would forage for morel mushrooms.”
His paternal grandfather, also named Peter Alonso, passed away at 95 in December — and, sadly, the Barcelona native took his knack for making paella with him.
“I don’t think he ever had a recipe for his paella. He just whipped it up,” says Alonso, who says paella is “the one thing I really want to learn to make.”
The slugger’s mom, Michelle, says that she had both of her sons pitch in in the kitchen when they were growing up.
“That’s how I raised the boys,” Michelle tells The Post. She reasoned with them, “If we are going to eat, we all have to learn to cook.”
Although he couldn’t have guessed he’d grow into the 245-pound specimen he is today, the athlete — who in July snapped a bat over his knee like it was a twig, after a strikeout — credits his beefy, powerful frame to those early-born eating habits.
“I feel like eating food that’s not processed and [is] filled with real nutrients helped me grow and develop,” says Alonso, whose nickname is Polar Bear.
These days, he’s added an anti-oxidant boost: red wine. Alonso has a growing interest in vino, and favors a Chianti with Italian food and a cabernet or malbec with meat. Like Paul Giamatti’s character in “Sideways,” he isn’t a fan of merlot — or his maternal grandfather’s homemade red.
“My dad said it tasted really strong and was not very good. It was homemade redneck wine,” says Alonso with a laugh.
Although he loves cooking, Alonso’s too busy to break out his chef’s knives during the baseball season. But he’s glad to leave it up to the Mets’ team chef, Theresa Corderi.
“Theresa is such an amazing chef,” says Alonso, who craves her mac ’n’ cheese after nine calorie-burning innings. (Sometimes, he gets an extra treat: “If I have a good game, I am going to have an ice cream bar.”)
On the road for away games, he makes sure to hit restaurants that specialize in the city’s homegrown delicacy — cioppino in San Francisco, steak in the Midwest. On a recent trip to Pittsburgh, he gave a thumbs-up to a barbecue joint near PNC Park called Pork & Beans.
During home stands, he and his fiancée, Haley Walsh, love to explore NYC’s restaurant scene.
Here, “you have the best of everything,” Alonso says. Ask him for somewhere to eat, and he recites a list longer than Bubba’s shrimp speech in “Forrest Gump.”
“I take pride in my restaurant recommendations. If someone has a bad meal or bad experience, I feel let down a bit. It’s like, ‘Damn it, why didn’t they do better?’ ” he says.
Although Alonso’s fiancée, friends and family are well acquainted with Alonso’s kitchen savvy, there is one place his talents have gone unnoticed: the clubhouse.
Alonso says many of his teammates aren’t even aware of his restaurant smarts or cooking skills — and he’s never prepared a meal for them.
“None of them have never asked,” he says. “But if they buy the groceries, I’m cooking.”
Pete’s foodie faves
When he’s not on the road, Alonso likes to break bread at these New York hot spots.
Thick-cut bacon at Peter Luger Steakhouse in Williamsburg
Oysters at the Hunt & Fish Club in the Theater District
Hunt and Fish Club
Ralph’s corned beef sandwich at the Polo Bar in Midtown
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