First Look at Taste of the NFL: How to Party with a Purpose
By Lane Nieset
The party surrounding Super Bowl LIV may be taking place in Miami next February, but you can party with a purpose further north in Greater Fort Lauderdale. For the past 29 years, Taste of the NFL has strived to raise awareness and money to help kick hunger—donating more than $25 million in the process. And the next event, held in honor of Super Bowl 54, will take place right in our own backyard at The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood on Feb. 1, 2020.
Bizarre Foods TV personality Andrew Zimmern will play host alongside Man v. Food’s Adam Richman and retired NFL linebacker Ben Leber, who spent 10 years playing for the San Diego Chargers and Minnesota Vikings. Since the first “Party with a Purpose” started in 1992, founder and culinary entrepreneur Wayne Kostroski (who was awarded 2010 James Beard Humanitarian of the Year) has brought together culinary greats like celeb chef Bobby Flay (one of the event’s founding chefs), Cake Boss’ Buddy Valastro (owner of Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, N.J.), Food Network’s Alex Guarnaschelli (the executive chef at New York City’s Butter), and Chopped’s Ted Allen.
Nearly 40 chefs come together each year to prep the cuisine for 35-plus food stations at the event. Each chef hails from a different NFL city and whips up their signature dish, so guests have the chance to sample cuisine from some of the country’s best chefs while mixing and mingling with NFL legends. Last year, for example, chef Allen Susser (representing the Miami Dolphins) contributed a Cuban-spiced Nueske’s bacon and broccoli stir fry, while chef Chris Perrino, the director of culinary operations for Shula’s Restaurants (which is named after NFL legend and Dolphins Hall of Fame coach Don Shula), prepped braised short rib over cheddar grits with Brussels sprout kimchi.
Shula Burger—known for its signature black angus beef blend patties—is one of the many local eateries you’ll find at concessions stands at Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the Miami Dolphins (and there’s an outpost at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, too). A few other local favorites gracing the stadium’s stands: Grown, the first all-organic eatery inside a U.S. stadium; Cuban institution Café Versailles; and South Florida-based sports bar Bru’s Room.
Brooklyn-born chef Allen Susser, meanwhile, spent time in the early 90s training at JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, where he developed a “new Florida cuisine.” The New York Times called him the “Ponce de Leon of New Floridian cooking” and Time Magazine called his cuisine “a New World marvel.” The James Beard Award-winning chef (and one of the founding chefs of Taste of the NFL) now consults on a number of projects, from culinary concepts at Saint Lucia’s Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain resorts to Fairchild Tropical Gardens, where he created the International Mango Festival.
One out of six people in the U.S. is struggling with hunger. That averages out to about 50 million Americans, including 16.2 million children, which is “unacceptable in the richest country in the world,” says honorary chair, actor Jeff Bridges, in the mission statement video. “I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it must be for parents who can’t provide food for their children.”
Proceeds from the Taste of the NFL’s Super Bowl events go to Feeding America-affiliated food banks in each of the 32 NFL team cities. In the past, this included local food banks like The Pantry of Broward’s food bank in Fort Lauderdale. For each $10 donated, you can rest assured your money is going a long way—providing up to 80 meals for those in need.