Alabama vs. Ole Miss: A Game of Trash-Talking Chefs

Cheese Fries with Crayfish and Gravy Photo © Jonny Valiant
By Christine Quinlan Posted October 02, 2014

SEC football has some of the most rabid fans in sports, including chefs. Two of them share predictions for this weekend's Ole Miss vs. Alabama showdown.

Alabama and Ole Miss, both undefeated in college football’s powerhouse Southeastern Conference (SEC), will face one another in Oxford Mississippi this weekend. In addition to some of the best teams in college football, the SEC also has some of the most enthusiastic fans and tailgaters, including chefs. Ole Miss fans often say “"We may not win the game, but we’ve never lost a party." Though that seems to be changing this year with a strong 4-0 start.
 
In the spirit of competition we‘re fostering a little trash talking, chef-style. Chris Hastings of Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club is reppin Alabama while Kelly English of Restaurant Iris and The Second Line as well as an Ole Miss alum, has got the Rebels. Here, they share predictions for the game and tailgating tips.
 
Chef Chris Hastings:
First, I just want to tell you it’s gonna be a hell of a game. Southern chefs have a lot of fun with football and barbing each other with chippy emails and tweets. Kelly told me that Alabama’s going to get stomped but I think we’ll win 35-17. Alabama has been the king of the world for the last few years so we can be loud and proud. Right now I’m just letting Ole Miss fans have their moment then I’ll get on them. Their chests are awful big right now.
 
When it comes to tailgating I don’t want to work that hard. I like to stop by other tailgates or the Sigma Nu house for home games at Alabama (my sons are members). Sigma Nus from opposing teams will come too. We always start as polite Southern gentleman then there’s usually a heavy does of harassment. When I do cook I like to keep it simple: a pot of gumbo, a whole pig that we’ll smoke in advance and then pick it so we can bring sandwiches. Always have beer for sure and we have to have a Bourbon beverage. My favorite is what we call the Donny Draper. We make a simple syrup with sassafras root, shake it with some bourbon and pour it over ice with a twist of lemon. It’s kind of like a Manhattan with sassafras. Crazy good.
 
Chef Kelly English:
Alabama has owned us pretty good in past years but we have some confidence this year. It's always fun playing them, mostly because we have the opportunity to pop their proverbial ballon full of their air of entitlement. They have a great program and deserve respect for what they have done, but just get off the high horse please. Final score: Rebels 24 - Elephants 20.

Tailgating at Ole Miss is like Thanksgiving, except it’s with people you want to be around, not have to be around. Everyone has proud family recipes like on Thanksgiving, and they put a fence around their dish because they own it. My buddy always brings 7-layer dip and I always bring pimento cheese from the restaurants and, if it’s an early game, my wife always makes a breakfast casserole. You can’t grill in the Grove so you have to come prepared.
 
Since Ole Miss has the home field advantage we’re choosing recipes from future hall of famer* Kelly English for those of us who will be watching the game from home: Meat pies and cheese fries.
 
On October 18th, Kelly will be inducted into the prestigious Ole Miss Hall of Fame, which honors successful alumni. Also included in English’s class will be former star running back Deuce McAllister. “This is one of the top two things to happen in my life. Winning F&W Best New Chef and this honor. When they told me about the event I thought they were going to ask for a donation or to have me cook at the banquet for free. When they said ‘you’ll be a member of the class, I was like y’all know I just put salt on food, right?’  Congratulations Kelly!

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