We interrupt your regularly scheduled coverage of, “Oh JFC we have to play the BILLS this week” for this historic announcement:
The food gods have smiled upon us and finally given New England Patriots legend Vince Wilfork a television show. A television show about food. If luck is where preparation meets opportunity, Big Vince and the Food Network show seems like where Tom Brady and Randy Moss come together and everyone concurs, “Yeah, this is the way life should be”.
Wilfork broke the news bright and early as we were all dragging ourselves back to work after three days of good old fashioned American gluttony on Monday morning:
Oh yeah, kind of buried the lede here: not only is it Vince Wilfork and a show about food, it’s Vince Wilfork and a show about FOOTBALL food.
Variety followed up Vince’s post with some details on what we’re going to see when the show lands on... Well would you look at that, it drops the week before the NFL playoffs start.
Trigger warning: the (Dr. Evil air quotes) signature food of New England is about as “I’ve flown through Boston a couple times” as it gets, and it’s also... just not something you see at Gillette Stadium tailgates very often, if ever?
Food Network is teaming up with the NFL for a new primetime competition series that celebrates the art of tailgating.
In the six-episode NFL Tailgate Takedown, hosts Sunny Anderson and New England Patriots Hall-of-Famer Vince Wilfork will preside over tailgate chefs going head-to-head in one-hour episodes shot on location at an NFL stadium tailgate just before the big game, with each tailgating duo representing one of the two NFL teams competing that day. The chefs will endure three themed cooking rounds that feature “each city’s authentic tailgate dishes” — like New England lobster rolls and Philly cheesesteaks — for an “epic battle of hometown pride.”
Now, if you do enjoy some tasty crustaceans at your tailgate, hey, life is short, and nobody leaves this planet wishing they’d eaten more salads. Just saying that unless I’m even more washed than I thought, I’m pretty sure lobster rolls are not really a thing at Pats tailgates.
Anyway. The next bit might add some clarity on why lobster rolls came up, because the three-round format looks like (in order) a dip, a sandwich-type thing, and then for the final round, a meat-and... two.
In each episode, Sunny and Vince welcome two teams of talented tailgating duos outside the stadium on game day — one representing their home turf and the other fans of the visiting team. In the first round — known as “The First Down” — each team must create a platter of their best bite-sized snacks with a dip that represents their city’s flavors. The winner of round one, as determined by a rotating panel of judges, gets an advantage and selects an ingredient significant to their hometown that both teams must use in round two. In round two’s ‘Between the Uprights’ battle, the duos must make their best handheld tailgate treat between the buns and the losing team is penalized as one player must complete a tailgate game before entering the final round. In the “Hail Mary” third round, each team must create a tailgate platter of a meat and two sides that would make their hometown proud. Finally, the grand-prize winner is named and presented a ‘Yum-bardi Trophy’ by a guest NFL legend and then, in a once-in-a-lifetime moment, the winning duo is ushered right into the stadium to their VIP seats on the 50-yard line.
Off the top of my head, the whole “meat and two sides” platter thing seems like it’d favor the more barbecue-friendly regions like Kansas City and everywhere in Texas. Feels like it’s not exactly a hot take to say that some states probably have a home field advantage when it comes to grilled/smoked meats and the relevant sides, but hey, let’s get into the ring and find out.
The list of NFL dudes that make an appearance is a great chance to remember some guys, though, including a fellow Patriots great and Pro Football Hall of Famer.
NFL Tailgate Takedown episodes will feature cooking competitors duking it out at these NFL games: Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High, Las Vegas Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Chicago Bears vs. New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, Green Bay Packers vs. Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium and Philadelphia Eagles vs. Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.
NFL celebs featured on the show include Carl Banks, Johnathan Joseph, Brandon Stokely, Thurman Thomas, Andre Tippett and mascot KC Wolf.
Fun Fact: Andre Tippett is still the only linebacker in NFL history to log a combined 35 sacks in back-to-back seasons. Pretty good!
What’s going to (hopefully) make this awesome is that Vince Wilfork is as natural on the camera as he was on the football field. Remember this gem?
And of course, the clip that spawned a million GIFs (and a sweet RIBS hat):
As it happens, January 4, the date the show drops, is smack dab in the middle of the New Year’s Eve college football bowl games, and the college football playoff on January 9, not to mention the Patriots’ Round Deaux showdown with the Buffalo Bills that’s either going down on January 7 or 8, as of right now. Perhaps it’ll be a nice change of pace in between football, football, and more football.
Either way, at least in this rollercoaster era of the post-Brady (and Wilfork) Patriots, we can rely on an all-timer like Big Vince to deliver the goods and help us vicariously enjoy some tasty treats in the dog days of winter.