For those of you unfamiliar with Taste of the NFL, it's an incredible charity event that takes place every year, the night before the Super Bowl, in the host city. 100% of the proceeds are distributed to food banks across America. Last Saturday night marked the 21st annual event, which was MC'd by Scott Murray, author of the book Bring Out the Best, a behind-the-scenes look at how the "Party with a Purpose" comes together. Ted Allen, of "Chopped" on the Food Network, was the Culinary Commentator. And yours truly, armed with a great cameraman and sound engineer, roved the party getting interviews with chefs and famous NFL'ers alike (stopping when possible to taste the delicious food)!
So here's how the Taste works: Each NFL franchise city is represented by a chef and a current or former player. They are set up at tables around the venue, (which for the first time this year was actually a food bank itself), and VIPS, sponsors, and guests alike wander around tasting the food and getting photos with and autographs of the NFLers. There is also a silent auction (very cool sports memorabilia and Super Bowl tickets) and a concert at the end of the evening. This year, Sara Evans delighted audiences with a full set! The Cake Boss guys, Mauro and Joey, were also on hand with a ginormous cake to round out the culinary evening.
Leading up to Saturday night's festivities, there were several events earlier in the week in Indy including a luncheon, a private "huddle" with the players and chefs, and a tailgate party for the players, chefs, and close friends of the Taste. It was at the luncheon where I first started my interviews with Miss America, Laura Kaeppeler, former Giants star Bill Ard, Boston Chef Steve DiFillippo of Davios, and New York chef Stephen Lewandowski of the Tribeca Grill.
I took a ton of pictures in the brief moments in between interviews and chowing down on the tasty fare of all 32 NFL cities. Here are some:
The Hungry Fan interviews Miss America, Laura Kaeppeler
At the tailgate with Baltimore Ravens player representative, Qadry "The Missile" Ismail
In addition to the special cake that the Cake Boss guys made for the Taste, they made a second one–a special birthday cake for Sara Evans, who was celebrating her birthday that same day. I had to snap a picture of it so you all could see the amazing sugar mastery. The cake features all five of her cd covers, each one hand painted with sugar. Everything you see atop the cake is fondant, folks. Pretty spectacular. Big props to the men of Cake Boss.
While the Taste of the NFL may only take place once a year, you can always donate to help kick hunger at any point throughout the year. Please visit the website, www.tasteofthenfl.com to find out how you can contribute of such a worthy cause. In the meantime, here's looking forward to next year when we celebrate giving in…New Orleans! Big Easy here I come!