The football season is upon us which means tailgating in in full swing too. Whether you are a tailgating aficionado or someone who simply shows up and throws some cash in a bucket, without a doubt, the time before a sporting event is sacred to all sporting fans no matter how big or small.
Southern Gaming and DestinationsÂ caught up with Joe Cahn, The Commissioner of Tailgating, (yesâ?¦there is such a person!) to talk about everything from fun foods to best tailgates. Cahn is the real deal and you can take what he says seriously.
In 1996, Joe Cahn visited every NFL stadium in the country and declared himself the King of Tailgating, but soon realized that a King can be overthrown and a Commissioner is for life. So, in 1997, at an NFL press conference for a tailgating cookbook, Cahn had the microphone, declared himself as the commissioner, no one objected, and the rest is history. Residing in Texas, and traveling around the country in his luxurious RV loaded with team jerseys and everything necessary to have a great tailgate, he regularly gets calls from around the world on best tailgate practices, suggestions, interviews and more.
So, needless to say, we thought it appropriate to catch up with The Commish!
Joe Cahnâ?¦The Commissioner of TailgatingÂ
Lives in: Fort Worth, Texas (Born and raised in New Orleans)
Hobbiesâ?¦other than tailgating: Eating
Favorite music: Anything NOT to loud
Favorite place to tailgate: Wherever I am!
Web-site: Tailgating.com â?? Here you will find everything tailgating including tips, recipes, pictures and more.
Southern Gaming: What makes a great tailgate?
Joe Cahn: The people. It is all about the people who are at the tailgate. You can serve bread and butter with people you like and have a better time than serving a five-course meal with people you donâ??t like. So, the make-up of the people at your tailgate is the very important.
SG: What is your number one tailgate tip?Â
JC: Keep it simple. If you keep it simple, everything falls into place and you have more time to spend with the people who attend. Remember, this is a receptionâ?¦not a banquet.
SG: One of the center points of all tailgates seem to be the food. What are some of your favorite tailgate foods?
JC: As mentioned before, I am a â??Keep it Simpleâ?? guy. Always consider the climate. So, if itâ??s hot donâ??t serve chili. Maybe consider some fruit that has been in a cooler or lighter foods. I like to do hot dogs or sausages, so I put them on the bun, cut them Â in half, and then put out a nice buffet of condiments. Offer a few different mustard’s, relishes and other sauces, that way, people can try a few different flavors, and you aren’t doing a lot of extra work to accommodate it. Also, I like to go to the grocery store and buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, quarter it, cover it with my favorite barbecue sauce and throw it on the grill. You aren’t cooking the chicken, simply finishing it. It doesn’t take long and it is delicious.
Another suggestion is a â??make your own pizza partyâ??. If you take flour tortillas and dry them out on the grill, they make a great thin crust for pizza. Put out some pasta sauce and all of your favorite toppings, let people make their own pizzaâ??s, cover with some Mozzarella cheese, throw it on the grill for a couple of minutes and youâ??re done. Quick, easy and people love it!
SG: What are some easy ways to enhance your tailgate?Â
JC: There are a lot of ways to make your tailgate great, but the trick is to keep it simple. Go to a fabric store and buy fabric with your teams favorite colors to use for table cloths. It is usually pretty cheap and makes it look great. If you have a six foot table, a twin-sized, fitted bed sheet works greatâ?¦especially if you can find the right color! Also, the host has to dress the part. Make sure that you are wearing your team colors proudly and it will set the tone for your guests.
SG: Where are the best tailgates?Â
JC: Wherever I am! Without going into specific schools or teams, I would have to say that the Southern schools, SEC and ACC schools, are probably the most energetic. I think it is probably because of the tradition and the fact that the climate allows for being outside more for grilling and enjoying the weather.
SG: Why is tailgating so popular?Â
JC: Intentional or not, tailgates are individual parties that turn into elaborate gatherings. It is a chance to meet new people, not push them away. The groups that embrace that concept seem to have the most fun when it is all said and done. Tailgates are an extension of home hospitality at its finest. People literally bring their homes to a parking lot. It is like a huge neighborhood without fences. You might not know the guy next to you when you get thereâ?¦but I bet you do when you leave! It is truly the last great American neighborhood.
SG: Do you have to have an elaborate set-up to have a good tailgate?Â
JC: Absolutely not. Again, it is all about the company and who is there. It could be you and your buddy with a bucket of chicken. Thatâ??s fine. I just encourage people to be participants, not observers. Whether it is attending or hosting, get into it. We canâ??t punt pass or runâ?¦but we sure can tailgate and that is a victory in itself!
Tailgate Tips from The Commish!Â
- Ziplock your meat: Flank steaks need a longer period of marinating, so on Monday, I put them in a ziplock bag with the dressing or whatever marinate we are using. Let them sit for two days and then freeze them until the night before the game. They thaw but are still very cold for the trip and there’s less danger of meat turning in a cooler.
- Foil trick: Line your portable grill with aluminum foil for easy clean-up and disposal of spent charcoal.
- Freeze your water: Get bottled water and freeze it. Place it in your cooler. If it gets hot, you can take it out and as it melts, you will have cold water to drink. Unlike, ice, it won’t “water down” your cooler! The bottles make good ice packs!
- Prep work: Make hamburgers in advance (no thicker than 3/4 inch) and freeze between sheets of wax paper. Put on grill still frozen and cook 3 to 4 minutes each side.
- Laminated check list: We have been tailgating for years. We developed our check list over the years and laminated it. On Fri/Sat as we are packing, simply check off the items with a dry erase marker. When all done, wipe it off and you are ready for the next game!
- Large storage bins: Use large storage bins to organize all of your tailgating gear and keep it that way, so it’s easy in, easy out, all season.
- Tailgating in warm weather: When tailgating in warm weather, make sure your beverages are cold before placing in a cooler of iceâ?¦it helps to slow the ice melt. It sounds simple but it works, along with freezing some bottles of water to throw in the cooler, too.