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Practical Tailgating Tips from Chef Chris Shepherd 

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Practical Tailgating Tips from Chef Chris Shepherd 
Photos by Denny Culbert

Chef Chris Shepherd sees tailgating as a way of life. As a committed Houston Texans fan, he tries to tailgate for every home game. “If you walk by, I’ll offer you food, drink, and ask you to stop and hang out.”

You’re going to want to take him up on that offer, but if it’s your own tailgating that beckons, take advice from this pro:

  1. Do not start drinking at 8 a.m. unless you can pace yourself. If you can, go for it. If you can’t, you will realize you can’t when you don’t make it to gametime.
  2. On that note, you want to offer a good bar. You want a good selection of booze. We often have someone that brings a pony keg, then I offer a good bottle of rum, a good bottle of bourbon, etc. Don’t skimp on the quality. It’s great because people can entertain themselves.
  3. You have to cook an iconic dish of the city you’re playing, or when feasible, cook the mascot. One time when we played Buffalo, I smoked a buffalo. I’m fortunate to be able to have access to stuff that like, and it was super fun to put it on.
  4. You gotta have tunes. It doesn’t matter what, just get music going.
  5. Set up a hand washing station. Bring hand sanitizer and a 3-gallon water bottle, then a bucket or bus tub. I’m serious about that. People are eating, meeting each other, hanging out. You have to stay clean.
  6. Trash and recycling. You need a spot for both. Keep your area neat.
  7. Find a location you like and stick with it. Tailgating is a mobile neighborhood, and you will be an amazed by the sense of community.
  8. Be social. Invite people to join you, even people from the other team. Hey, they’re probably feeling left out and hungry, so wave ‘em over.