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The Tailgate King - Joe Cahn
Joe Cahn has the perfect job. The self-proclaimed Commissioner of Tailgating is presented with a brand new RV every season to travel to as many college and NFL football games as he can manage each year. A chef and former cooking school owner, Cahn is an icon of tailgate parties. Where did he find this job? He invented it in 1996 after selling his business and his home. He started travelling to stadiums around America, cooking up large pots of jambalaya in the parking lots. His idea was to promote New Orleans and New Orleans' sports on the road. What he discovered instead was what he calls "The Last Great American Neighborhood".
Cahn sees tailgate parties as neighborhoods without fences. Everyone mingles without judgement, everyone there has the same thing in common - food and football (and probably in that order). The Commissioner has been to all 31 NFL stadiums and over 123 college stadiums. He has travelled over 500,000 miles, been to hundreds of cities and served more than 300 pots of his nearly famous jambalaya.
Joe Cahn was fortunate enough to snag a grant from Coca-Cola to study the partying habits of Americans in the parking lot. Are you envious yet? He travels with his cat, Sophie in the Joe Mobile, a large, powerful motorhome. Coca-Cola donates to charity one dollar for every mile Cahn travels. These charities are usually to combat hunger. Cahn has managed to turn tailgating into fundraising on more than one occasion. He once convinced one of his sponsors, Campbell's, to donate a can of soup to Hurricane Katrina victims for every mile he drives.
Let's talk about the food. Tailgaters gather as a community to talk about football and to cheer on their team. But, though they may not say so, it really is all about the food. Fans have become serious about their pre-game menus. The parking lot is like an open-air restaurant, each party participant bringing with them their own unique culinary talents. From hotdogs and sausage to salmon and shrimp, tailgate fare has reached new levels. Several tailgating cookbooks have hit the shelves and what is written there is enough to make you drool.
Joe Cahn insists that though the food is great, the tailgate party is about community. He says, "...when a stranger comes up to you in a city park and says hello, you worry that he wants to steal your money. When the same guy comes up to you at a tailgate, you hand him a hot dog". Cahn sees the gathering of people in the parking lot as a family event where everyone is welcomed and accepted for who they are.
The always smiling Joe Cahn (and why wouldn't he?) is a patriotic man who believes in America and its people. He is living the dream and wants to make sure everyone is invited.
1 1/2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups of sausage, cut in 1/4 inch slices
4 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups of chopped green bell pepper
1 tbsp. minced garlic
5 cups of chicken stock
2 tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet
2 tbsp. seasoning salt
4 cups uncooked long grain white rice
2 cups sliced green onions
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown in hot oil in 8 quart Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook 5-7 minutes.Remove chicken and sausage from pan - set aside. Add onions, celery, green peppers and garlic. Cook, stirring 7-10 minutes or until vegetables begin to wilt. Stir in chicken broth, reserved chicken and sausage, seasoning salt and Kitchen Bouquet. Bring to boil, add rice and return to boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 10 minutes, remove cover and stir. Replace cover and cook 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir in green onions.