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TimesFreePress.com Side Orders: Tailgating becomes artform

10-Sep-2014

by Anne Braly    view bio »




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This is the time of year when tailgates come down and cheers rise throughout stadiums across the country.

Tailgating has become a national sport in parking lots as much as any game played on the gridiron, so who better to get a few tailgating tips from than one of America's most expert tailgaters, Jeff Dockeray, known as the Gridiron Chef and founder of the Tailgate Radio Network based in San Antonio, Texas.

"I spent an afternoon a few years ago with (Food Network's) Guy Fieri and remember we spent a good hour discussing how, for the past decade, American sport fans have gradually moved the entire pantry to the parking lot. Everyone is now very proud of their own culinary flare," Dockeray says.

Q. Why has tailgating become such a national pastime in the U.S.?

A. "I believe the reason tailgating is a popular national pastime is three-fold. To begin, the mainstream popular sports, i.e., NFL, NCAA football and NASCAR, that tailgate culture supports have become part of the fabric of our weekly lives.

"Two, combine the growth of the 'foodie' culture the past decade with the growth of 'plug-and-play' technology, and you have complete access to everything we need to learn and share about food and beverage. That combined has had a dramatic impact in food and gameday culture.

"Finally, the reason it has not just sustained but flourished as a pastime, is simple. It's family, it's friends, it's libations and good food, and it's gaming. It's breaking bread with your closest comrades -- a half day of celebratory madness built around your alma mater, favorite team or event.

Q. Tailgating is more than just a picnic. It requires much more prep work for some people. What are some of the most important things to take along?

A. "I am unapologetically a hardwood-charcoal guy. Better than 90 percent of my proteins are best grilled and smoked with hardwood, but I am not a fan of petroleum fire starters. So I am big fan of Enviro-Log Firestarters. They get my hardwood charcoal going with ease.

"I also, along with my Firestarters, need my FiAir. It's a little handheld blower that feeds my charcoal. It's compact and, for me, a straight point-and-shoot that allows me to get my charcoal up to temperature quickly so I can get grilling. It's in my apron for the entire tailgate." (Check it out at fiair.net for $29.99.)

"Another staple in my weekly packing is one of the coolest 'finds' this past year, the GateMate Tailgate Party Toolbox....read more and get a recipe

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