Between the Sheets: Judging the 5th Annual Iron Tailgater at Qualcomm Stadium

I must admit our team has had some odd requests since our win last Feb 2010, but I do think this one topped them all!

San Deigo Chargers - Qualcomm Stadium

I received and email from Dominic Giammarinaro who is the organizer of the San Diego Chargers Tailgaters. The group consists of roughly 40 or so people who tailgate prior to each of the Chargers games. Dominic said the December 12th was their final tailgater of 2010 and since Terry and I would be in San Diego, would we be interested in being celebrity judges for their final cook-off. Well, as it happened, we were going to that game and so decided to accept the invitation. And boy were we glad we did! We arrived at 10am (the game didn’t start until 1pm) to a parking lot full of tailgaters! Now I have attended the historic tailgate events that use to happen at the Stampeder games a few years back..and this would put us to shame. It’s a full on first class event. TV’s set up to catch all the early games, canopies had been put up, chairs laid out and the drinks were already flowing.

Dominic and Terry!

We wandered into the group and felt at home in minutes…they were the warmest people! We took a bunch of pictures with all the members and the silver medal. Terry had met Dominic the last time he was down and presented him with one of his World Curling shirts – and Dominic had it on! And then, prior to the start of our judging duties – two of the kids at the event, Maya and Ben who were dressed up in red shirts with ‘Curling is Awesome’ painted on them sang O Canada. And by the time they were done, all of our American friends, plus Terry and I were singing O Canada at the top of our lungs…now if you don’t think I had tears during all of that!? How incredible and thoughtful…but there was more of that to come.

Our O Canada singers!!

Jeniffer, one of the tailgaters, had heard that I only drank red wine (bit unusual at a tailgate). So she had gone out of her way prior to the game to stop and get me some juice boxes- filled with red wine! When we accepted to judge the dishes – I must admit I expected, gourmet hamburgers, hotdogs and possibly some high end natchos! Was I wrong. The secret ingredients for the cook-off was basil and bacon – lucky for me, I love both! The first cook was Rob – he has placed 2nd quite a few times, but never won…so he was on a mission. He first presented the 3 judges with personalized place mats with our favorite things on them. Mine had a picture of my favorite movie; Rudy. Terry’s had a picture of his favorite girl. And Lana had a picture of her family…we were already impressed. Then he presented us with breast of chicken, wrapped in bacon and stuffed with chicken and basil. I was in love!

Rob's custom place mats!

The next dish was created by Quentin. These were buffalo chicken wings, wrapped in bacon and then dipped in basil dip. Fabulous! Our third delight was a breakfast burrito created by Joe. It was filled with egg, bacon and basil and served with my favorite, champagne and orange juice! Breakfast of Champions for sure! Our final dish was presented by the third judge’s (Elena) husband, Kristian. I had watched him earlier preparing his basil pesto sauce in a food processor (amazing at a tailgate). And he presented us with freshly cooked pasta coated with chicken and a basil & bacon pesto sauce. It was gourmet! Then it was decision time. The judges went back and rated each dish on presentation, taste & originality. It was tough! The winner in the end was Rob with his bacon wrapped chicken breast…it had been perfect!

Chef Rob - 2010 Winner!

I will say it again. One of the best thing to come from the Olympics is the doors it has opened to meet some pretty incredible people. That to me has been the best. We now have some great friends in San Diego and we hope to spend some more time tailgating with them and cheering on the Chargers!! (They won by the way – kicked the Chiefs!)