It’s where pigskin meet pork bellies. The Gridiron Grill-Off Food, Wine and Music Festival is Nov. 9-11 at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater and Park and pairs Miami Dolphins alumni with local A-list chefs for a grilling competition and a BBQ pit master competition.
Started by former Dolphin and restaurateur John Offerdahl for his Hand-Off Foundation, the fundraising event also will include a silent auction, a cornhole competition and concert performances starring Vince Gill, Barenaked Ladies, Daughtry and Sister Hazel.
But first up, ex-Dolphin Channing Crowder will teach a cooking class at Publix in Plantation as a prelude to the Gridiron Grill-Off.
Crowder’s special Publix Aprons program cooking class starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at the Publix store at 1181 S. University Drive, Plantation. The entry fee is $50. To register, go to Publix.com/Recipes-Planning/Aprons-Cooking-Schools/Plantation/Classes. For more information on the Gridiron Grill-Off, go to GridironGrillOff.com.
Here is more about the cooking class and the Gridiron Grill-Off from Crowder.
You’re doing an Aprons Cooking Class. Is this a first for you? We know you’re a great fisherman, but do you actually cook what you catch?
This is a renaissance man right here. I catch my own bait. I used the bait I catch to catch my fish. I clean them myself and cook them at home myself. It’s fun for me to go out and have an audience while I cook. Last year I cleaned a fish right in front of them to show them how easy it is to do. A lot of fishermen don’t know how to clean fish. I could see the light bulb go off — guys that were 30, 40, 50 years old and it clicks. It’s not that hard. There’s this guy up there with all these tattoos and dreads, but he’s making sense.
How many years have you been doing the Gridiron Grill-Off and why is this such an important project for you?
This is my fifth year. John Offerdahl has been a big help to me in business and my post NFL career. I go to all the Hand-Off Foundation events. They are feeding entire families, feeding the homeless, feeding the kids. All the profits go to the charities. John is very successful in business. This is a side job. John wasn’t better than me in football, but I can’t compete with him in philanthropy.
What’s it like working with all those Dolphins stars? Is there a lot of smack talk in the Grill-Off competition?
Oh my goodness. Me and Jeff Cross, we get into it every year. The younger alumni, they bring out what we all had — that competition. The competition comes out. The Dolphin fans, they can feel it. Me and Sam Madison, we go at it with that trash talk. The fans get to see the intensity, that we want to win. Man, it’s just the best charity event. It’s three nights of concerts, too. That money that is raised … is given right back to the South Florida community.
Is there anything else new this year for the event in November?
This year they have concerts by groups like Barenaked Ladies. They’ve expanded [the concerts]. And also they put in a [BBQ] pit master competition with 40 teams. And these guys competing, they got it on lock. Then on Sunday there’s a professional cornhole competition. It’s an entire weekend. You get to walk around and maybe Zach Thomas serves grilled Wagyu ribs … and Sam Madison is serving shrimp pasta. It’s the great Dolphins of the past and delicious food. It sets the bar pretty high. We’re all competing and it’s going to make the world a better place. I know that’s pretty cliché, but this is an event that moves people emotionally. Being a part of it … it’s just amazing, honestly.
What have you learned over the years that will give you an advantage this year in the Grill-Off?
I don’t want to tell my secret. But since it’s you. I won two years and it’s always the quick food, lobster rolls, sliders, pastas. For some reason people like that, quick finger food. And lots of flavor. I put in lime, cilantro, cayenne, but it has to be a finger food … something quick and flavorful.
Are you and your wife, Aja, going to appear on the second season of VH-1’s “Baller Wives”? Or are you doing any other TV anytime soon?
We’ve had some different opportunities. But you know those girls, they really didn’t like each other. There were fights. Real fights. There were people getting maced. It was just a little too much animosity for us. It’s not scripted, but it is structured to a point. They get what they want.