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NFL Pigskin: Bradford Thompson and the New York Giants

Even when he was the chef at Mary Elaine’s in Scottsdale, AZ, F&W Best New Chef 2004 Bradford Thompson flew to New York to tailgate at Giants stadium with other friends and fans in the New York restaurant industry. Now that he’s cooking at Manhattan’s Lever House, the tailgating logistics are a little more manageable. Here he shares a few of his pork-roasting exploits, along with some of the reasons behind his Giants fandom.

slideshow New York Giants: Harissa-Crusted Pork Crown Roast

How did you become a Giants fan? When?
I became a fan in 1978, after they lost to the Eagles in the infamous game known as “The Fumble” (pictured, below). It was the low point in Giants’ history and the catalyst for change that would bring the Giants Lawrence Taylor, Phil Simms and Bill Parcells as head coach. Also, my father was an Eagles fan, and I was a rebellious child.

Do you have any favorite foods you make while watching or tailgating games?
Two of our favorite things to cook in the Giants stadium parking lot are whole pigs cooked in a La Caja China Box and, around Thanksgiving time, whole deep-fried turkeys. Anything with pork in it is popular. Grilled food tastes better when it’s cold out and we’re standing in the parking lot before a game.

Any favorite local New York-area beers?
We have a friend and fellow tailgater that works for Anheuser-Busch, and we also have some friends that work for a wine distributor, so we are pretty spoiled. We usually kick off the season with a toast and a bottle of Gaja from Ben Friedman, the owner of the New York restaurant wholesaler Riviera Produce.

Any pregame superstitions?
We like to be there 6 to7 hours before the game so we have enough time to cook, eat and get ready for the game.

Miracle at the Meadowlands

© Edwin Mahan/NFL

Predictions for the team: Final season record and how they’ll do against their rival?
2-0 versus the Eagles. 2-0 versus the Cowgirls. Probably finish 10-6 and get hot in the playoffs again to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Which matchup are they most looking forward to and why?
The Redskins because they’re the first game of the season.

As part of a 32-team roundup of our favorite pork recipes, F&W has paired your team with a Crown Roast. Do you agree? Disagree?
I like the winning-the-crown idea, but I think our whole roasted pig is our personal favorite.

Pats versus Giants: Who takes the first game of the season?
The important thing is the Giants beat the Pats when it counted on the biggest stage.

Will the Giants repeat the Super Bowl?
Of course.

Manning versus Manning Super Bowl: Exciting or boring?
Very exciting.

Plus:

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