Adventures of the Tailgating Chef

Football isn't just for sports fans--it's also for food fans! While many football devotees eat while watching TV at home or sitting inside the stadium, a large contingency of fans set up camp in parking lots across America and create gourmet pre-game meals worthy of any restaurant fare. Tailgating chefs have moved beyond grilled hot dogs and have generated an industry supportive of the outdoor cook.

Who are These Fan Chefs?

Tailgating chefs are mostly found at college football games, where cookouts also serve as mini alumni reunions. Professional football also has a good showing of hungry but discriminating chefs, and even NASCAR events are attracting the gourmet cook. Statistically, the average tailgater is male, college-educated, between 25 and 34 years old, and starts the party 3-4 hours before kickoff. Cookbooks, websites, videos, and contests provide the culinary inspiration with celebrity chefs (Mario Batali) and sportscasters (John Madden) lending their expertise.

Culinary Creations for the Hungry Fan

So what exactly are these chefs preparing? How about grilled leg of lamb Jamaican style, spicy skirt steak, monster shrimp with orange chili glaze, or brickyard barbequed game hens? It's not just main courses--salads, beans, potatoes, other side dishes and desserts also appear. The quantity of food produced can be huge--a recent tailgate party at Notre Dame included 105 pounds of assorted seafood, 20 pounds of sausage, and 25 pounds of lamb!

Who Says Chefs Need a Kitchen?

Wondering how tailgaters cook such fine food in a parking lot? A variety of heat sources are available, ranging from small charcoal grills to large propane models. The automobile plays a role in the culinary process, with grills that mount on the rear of the car, as well as popcorn makers, pizza makers, frying pans, slow cookers, and coffeemakers. Refrigeration equipment, comfy furniture to enjoy the meal, and special trailers to haul it all to and fro are also available.

Love sports and love to cook? Leave the kitchen, hit the road to the nearest sporting event, and put your culinary skills to work. Good chefs are prized anywhere!