The NFL season kicks off tonight! Over the next few weeks, we’re featuring interviews with players about how they eat, loads of tailgating recipes and more in Football And Food. Next up, Phil Loadholt of the Minnesota Vikings, who play their first game at home on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Philip Loadholt was destined to be big. His own mother told ESPN.com, “When I gave birth, I yelled, ‘Oh my god, hurry up and get this kid out.’ He was 10 pounds and looked like he was a 1-year-old.”
Loadholt wound up growing up to reach 6 feet, 8 inches and now weighs in around 343 pounds. At Oklahoma, he became the tallest player in Sooners history. Four years ago, the offensive lineman was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings, where he currently helps block for superstar running back Adrian Peterson.
All that hard work on the line leads to a big appetite, and when we called Loadholt recently during training camp, he talked about some of his favorite things about chowing down from smoking meat to Reese’s to eating breakfast at any time of day.
Which do you prefer – cooking or eating?
I’m definitely more of an eater than a cooker, but I enjoy food. I wouldn’t call myself a foodie because I’m not that knowledgeable to be a foodie yet, but I’m learning.
What are you learning about?
Learning more about cooking and preparing foods. Foods from different cultures. I’m really into trying new things.
What cultures are you learning about?
I had a vacation in Puerto Rico this offseason, so I got a chance to see some of their cuisine, like mofongos and plantains, which was new for me to eat. I also went to Hawaii and ate the poi. I’ve been trying to dip into finding something new in the offseason.
Are there foods during training camp that you crave?
I’m not normally a dessert guy, but during camp there are some nights where I really want something real chocolate-y. After two practices in one day you get kind of hungry.
What’s a typical meal for you during training camp?
Well, for dinner, I try to get as many veggies as possible – I love veggies. I try to stay away from red meat and go with fish or chicken. Just trying to make sure I get enough in me because we use food as fuel in camp, not really thinking too much about what you have a taste for. It’s more fuel because it’s exhausting during the day.
Do you have a pre-game meal?
I eat breakfast no matter what time the game is. I have an egg white omelet with all the fixings. Then I normally go with chicken and biscuits and gravy and maybe slap some pieces of bacon on it.
What about post-game?
That’s when I go back into my dessert mode. After the game, I’m looking for something sweet. On the plane, I’m asking the stewardess for a handful of Reese’s. Don’t tell my strength coach.
Besides dessert, what’s your favorite food?
My favorite food is a steak. That’s why camp is hard. I love a good steak. Every road trip we go on, I’m always on the lookout for the best steakhouse. There’s one I always go to in Chicago, Chicago Cut. I made that a staple when we go to Chicago.
What are some other cities you enjoying playing in for their food?
I like Seattle. The Metropolitan Grill is a pretty nice place. Here in Minneapolis, I like to go to Manny’s – it’s one of the best steakhouse I ever been to. I like those old-fashioned American steakhouses.
Then you have to come play the Giants for the old school steakhouses in New York.
Yeah, I haven’t had the chance, but I know that’s where they all started.
You grew up in Colorado. Are there any dishes you miss from the area?
When I was growing up, I ate at home a lot — both my parents loved to cook. My mom’s from Mississippi, so she has some Southern in her. She’d always make hog maws; it’s like chitlins. I miss those. Chitlins, black-eyed peas. We eat that every New Year’s. And collard greens. That’s what I miss from home.
Do you have a must-have cooking tool?
My grill. If I’m cooking, I’m using my grill. I try to experiment with pretty much anything on the grill. Right now it’s fruits.
What are your favorite cooking or food shows?
My favorite is Andrew Zimmern, Bizarre Foods. I love watching his show. I can’t believe what he eats. That stuff is too far for me to reach.
Do you have a favorite celebrity chef?
Bobby Flay. I’m always watching Bobby Flay.
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