Monday, May 9, 2016

Oh So Tasty: 12th Annual Taste of the NFL

Kent Rathbun Concepts is one of many restaurants who participated in this year's Taste of the NFL event

North Texas Food Bank Tackles Hunger at the 12th Annual Taste of the NFL
The Ultimate Cowboys Tailgate Party
by Dawn Neufeld

“Are you still on your pageant diet?”

It’s the first question I was asked by a friend as I stood on the 50-yard line at the behemoth that is AT&T Stadium in Arlington last weekend. I’d competed in the Mrs. Texas America pageant the weekend prior, and after a month of clean eating, I was ready to throw down at the 12th Annual Taste of the NFL: The Ultimate Cowboys Tailgate Party presented by the North Texas Food Bank and the Dallas Cowboys. More than 20 booths serving mouth-watering, gourmet tailgate food from some of DFW’s best restaurants lined the sidelines on the field. It was on!

There is so much food at this event and if you’re not careful, you’ll fill your belly before you have a chance to try everything. One of my favorite barbecue spots in Dallas, Off the Bone Barbecue, was serving their famous ribs. After I inhaled my first rib (the meat really does fall off of the bone – it’s divine), I contemplated grabbing another one but decided to hold off so I could save room for all of the other delicious food. As I was still wiping barbecue sauce off my face, my husband Ryan and I noticed Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett chatting with folks and taking pictures. My husband is a retired NFL player and he and Jason were teammates Ryan’s first year in the league so they spent a little time chatting as I plotted my next move.

Jack Ingram performed at the 12th Annual
Taste of the NFL
We walked past Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith and some of his teammates on our way to check out the Abacus booth on the other side of the field. Sure enough, Kent Rathbun was there – I’m a fan of his and his food! His smoked beef tenderloin with jalapeno-corn pudding was mouth-watering and totally portable – the “utensils” were chips! Perfect tailgate food if you ask me. Another favorite was the smoked pork tenderloin with green chili buffalo sauce at the Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House booth. I went back for seconds of that. I’m telling you – this event is a carnivore’s dream. From wagyu corndogs to Applewood smoked pulled pork, Taste of the NFL is a meat lover’s dream.

After we grabbed a couple of beers at the bar, we checked out the silent auction. We were blown away by all of the great items. One of the first items that caught my eye was an autographed Steph Curry jersey. Impressive. But just a few items down from it was an autographed Prince guitar. A PRINCE GUITAR! Last I checked, the highest bid was around $4,000 – totally out of my price range – but it was pretty cool to see. With full bellies, we were determined to tackle some of the dessert booths. The Food Network regular and cake magician Bronwen Weber’s Frosted Art Bakery had a spread of various cupcakes. I couldn’t stop eating them and even grabbed a couple of more on our way out. But that didn’t stop me from trying delicious mini churros and football-shaped desserts from some of the other booths.

With my belly full, the irony of it all did not escape me. I ate well that night so others can too. Since the event’s inception in 2005, over $2 million has been raised to feed hungry North Texas children. The stadium is the perfect venue for this event. There was plenty of room to move around and it never felt crowded even though there were a ton of people there. It’s not often you get to experience what it’s like to stand on the blue star in the middle of the field and look up at the enormous video screen hanging over it. The ambience alone is worth the cost of the ticket. Add food, football players, beer and wine, the Cowboys cheerleaders and country crooner Jack Ingram, and it was a must-not-miss party. I’m looking forward to going back next year!

About Dawn Neufeld:

Dawn Neufeld is a multi-faceted woman with a heart for her family and children. She developed an interest in media and journalism and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies with a Women’s Studies minor from UCLA. She went on to earn a law degree from the UC Davis School of Law and is licensed to practice in both California and Texas. A cast member on VH1’s Football Wives (2010), Dawn most recently hosted The Broadcast and Take Charge Parenting. Dawn is the reigning Mrs. Frisco and recently competed in the Mrs. Texas America pageant for the seventh time. Dawn enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, Will and Bryn, and participating in her favorite charities – Autism Speaks, Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation and the Layla Grace Foundation. Dawn currently serves on the Helping Restore Ability board. She is also a member of the Junior League of Dallas. She is an active participant and former board member of Off the Field, the National Football Wives Association. Follow her on Twitter @DawnNeufeld and on her blog, The Gridiron Goddess.