Visiting a college campus on a Saturday in the fall is a feast for the senses. Eyes are treated to the beauty of these institutions and the colors worn by adoring fans. Ears are assaulted by the playing of marching bands and cheering for the home team. For me, however, there is nothing more satisfying that the scents surrounding you during a walk through the pre-game tailgate. The variety of dishes offer up a bounty of smells and flavors and much of that is shaped by where you’re tailgating. For instance, the spread at an SEC tailgate is going to be vastly different than what you’d find at a Big Ten or a Pac-12 school due to each region having unique culinary traditions.
To showcase this contrast, the CFP Indianapolis Host Committee created Tailgate Tastes.
THE IDEA: Local Indianapolis chefs would create a signature tailgate dish each week inspired by the location of ESPN’s College Game Day. For 13 weeks the participating restaurants were challenged to research a destination’s food culture and create a menu item that pays homage while allowing the personality of each chef to shine.
Thankfully, the Big Ten was well-represented on ESPN’s Game Day in 2021. To celebrate the Big Ten Championship this weekend, choose from these conference-inspired dishes as you eat your way around Indy:
Week #2: Iowa State vs. Iowa – Ames, IA
- Tailgate Taste: Loose Meat Sandwich
Inspired by the Maid-Rite sandwich, an Iowa Classic
- Find It At: Gallery Pastry Bar
Week #3: Penn State vs. Auburn – University Park, PA
- Tailgate Taste: Crab Chips with Smoked Cream Cheese
Inspired by Utz “Crab Chips” and Philladelphia Cream Cheese
- Find It At: Geraldines Supper Club
Week #4: Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin – Chicago, IL
- Tailgate Taste: Game Day Poutine
Inspired by the famous Chicago dog with tomatoes, beer cheese, and sport peppers
- Find It At: Goodwood Brewing & Spirits
Week #9: Michigan State vs. Michigan – East Lansing, MI
- Tailgate Taste: Gameday Olive Burger Sliders
Inspired by the olive burger, a signature dish in the region
- Find It At: Severin Bar at the Omni
Week #12: Ohio State vs. Michigan State – Columbus, OH
- Tailgate Taste: The Goetta State
Inspired by Goetta (German-inspired dish made of sausage, oats and spices) and Baby Swish Cheese (invented in Ohio)
- Find It At: The Cabin Kitchen at Guggman Haus Brewing Co.
Week #13: Michigan vs. Ohio State – Ann Arbor, MI
- Tailgate Taste: Coney Sauce Ragu with Cavatelli
Inspired by Michigan’s longstanding tradition of serving coney dogs
- Find It At: Iozzo’s Garden of Italy
Of course, these are just a sampling of the 13 Tailgate Tastes dishes inspired by college cities across the country. If you want to tease your senses, get out and explore these signature flavors for yourself.