As the Giants and Cowboys square off in the opening game of the 2012 NFL season tonight, we check with one of the Super Bowl Champion’s most devoted fans, chef Bradford Thompson, a fixture in the parking lot before home games who can always be seen cooking up some serious grub.
Perhaps one of the hardest-working men in the restaurant industry, James Beard Award–winning chef Bradford Thompson has become well-known for his football tailgates. When Thompson and his company, Bellyful Consulting, are not advising some of New York’s hottest restaurants (Miss Lily’s, Jezebel, Southern Hospitality and Dorie Greenspan’s soon-to-open bakery, Beurre & Sel), he can be found in MetLife Stadium’s parking lot, tailgating before Giants games and cooking up a menu that reflects the food culture of the city the Giants’ opponent is from – Mahi mahi and Cuban sandwiches for the Miami Dolphins, Tony Luke–style pork sandwiches for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Thompson is such a die-hard Giants fan, while working at Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona, he would take red-eye flights back east to tailgate at Giants games, including one against the Cardinals, where he cooked up red birds that he brought on board with him. Never get in between a man and his football, unless a tailgate is involved.
Why are the Giants your favorite team?
I grew up going to games with my dad and always loved the way they do business as an organization.
Who’s your favorite player (current or historical) and why?
Too many to choose from. [Lawrence Taylor] because he changed the game and the entire offensive line from the ’86 Super Bowl team, and because I was a lineman and appreciated their approach.
What was the greatest game you ever attended?
A best game includes my first game – “the fumble” – and as a kid it just solidified that the Giants were going to be my team even at their lowest point. Best game ever was being on the field for the win over the Packers in Green Bay in 2007. Words cannot describe that experience.
How long have you been tailgating?
I have been tailgating since I was a kid, but seriously doing it for 15 years now.
What’s your favorite football snack/drink?
Favorite tailgate food is usually something involving pork and a grill.
What’s a quick and easy recipe for football watching/tailgating?
Parking Lot Beans. All ingredients can be purchased at a gas station, where the recipe was invented.
- 4 cans beans
- 1 small bottle ketchup
- 1 can Dr Pepper
- 1 pound smoked bacon
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 can green chilies
- Cook onions and bacon over medium heat in a saucepot, add remaining ingredients and cover with foil. Simmer for 45 minutes
You’re known for cooking food based on what city the Giants’ opponent is from. What team is the best to cook for? The hardest?
Dallas, New England, Philly are easiest; Tampa Bay and Jacksonville are hardest.
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