Photo: Brett Carlsen (Getty Images)
Celebrity chefs are just like us. They put their pants on one leg at a time. The only exception is that their pants are professional chef pants and ours are Dockers or some kind of trendy jeans that will be out of style in six months. Since they’re like us, they have favorite NFL teams as well as go-to tailgating foods. Do you enjoy chicken wings and blue cheese dip before your favorite team takes on its bitter rival? So do you your favorite celebrity chefs.
We asked some of our favorite celebrity chefs to tell us their favorite tailgate foods. They were kind enough to provide their answers thanks to the Taste of the NFL as it kicks off (get it?) another season of raising both awareness and funds during its season-long Hunger Challenge, an annual fundraising competition for fans of all 32 NFL markets. Their goal is to raise money for each team’s local food bank. One hundred percent of the money raised goes to local communities. To donate to your favorite NFL city, visit www.kickhungerchallenge.com.
Bonafides: Executive chef of Manhattan’s Butter restaurant, Chopped judge, Iron Chef Gauntlet defending champion, and Fix Me a Plate host.
Favorite Team: New York Giants
Favorite Tailgating Food: “My favorite tailgate food is buffalo wings with chunky blue cheese dressing. I love them because of the crunchy texture mixed with the tangy blue cheese and rich dressing. They also play to the ‘chef-y’ side of a chef who wants to sub in or make variations in a classic, such as sub chicken tenders for wings for lighter, easier eating. You can bake instead of fry the chicken for fewer calories or replace wings with buffalo cauliflower or mushrooms for a vegan/vegetarian alternative. There are endless possibilities!”
Bonafides: Three Kings Restaurant Group owner and chef
Favorite Team: Chicago Bears
Favorite Tailgating Food: “My favorite tailgating food is any type of sausage, with a classic bun and an array of mustards. Sausage is the best food for tailgating because you can hold and eat it with one hand and have your other hand free for a cocktail or a beer! Sausage is super easy to throw on the grill and tastes best when charred over an open flame, whether it’s Italian sausage, bratwurst, or Polish kielbasa. They all pack a ton of flavor in a compact, easy to eat package.”
Bonafides: Executive chef at Oceana
Favorite Team: New York Jets
Favorite Tailgating Food: “One of my favorite dishes to make during football seasons is my fish tacos with black bean salad. Not only is it a fun and festive dish, but it’s also incredibly simple to make. While I love the flavor that results from cooking the fish on a grill, you can also use your stovetop instead. As my friends all know, I’m a huge fan of tequila, which pairs perfectly with the bright, citrusy flavors in these tacos. I always pour myself a glass to sip while chowing down.”
Bonafides: TV personality, culinary traveler, cook, and author
Favorite Team: Miami Dolphins
Favorite Tailgating Food: “Probably a deadlock tie between wings or burgers. Wings are great because if you are serving, you can prepare a bunch of them in advance and just heat them through. You can also prepare several different kinds of wings, whether it’s for variants of heat, like spicy and mild, or for flavors, like garlic parmesan and lemon pepper. Burgers are great because you can grill them up pretty quickly and then have a whole bunch of toppings for people to choose from, and everything is handheld and does not require a fork and knife. That is mandatory. In my opinion, I think everything at a tailgate should be handheld.”
Bonafides: Chef and owner of Willa Jean
Favorite Team: New Orleans Saints
Favorite Tailgating Food: “My favorite tailgating food is a big ol’ pot of jambalaya because nothing says ‘who dat’ like open-fire cooked Cajun food.”
Bonafides: Chef and partner at Lettuce Entertain You
Favorite Team: Chicago Bears
Favorite Tailgating Food: “Charred spicy Italian sausage with bell peppers, pickled sports peppers, and mustard. It’s my favorite because I grew up with that kind of food as a kid and it reminds me of eating street food and going to carnivals. It’s a great a dish for when you need something substantial to fill you up. This dish brings back memories of having a great time with my family and being outside, getting ready to go watch a football game.”
Bonafides: Chef and co-owner of New York City’s Pig & Khao and Jersey City’s Piggyback Bar
Favorite Team: Whoever’s playing
Favorite Tailgating Food: “Pizza! Might not be the most common tailgating food out there but my brother-in-law just bought a Uuni portable pizza oven for tailgates and it does an amazing job.”