Why did I seek out Katherine Farrell’s advise on creating the ultimate, make-ahead tailgate dish, and sharing her recipe, plus tips for scoring a touchdown at your next tailgate party?
Because her company, Katherine’s Catering, has catered scores of the University of Michigan president’s tailgates since the 80‘s; has a devoted group of regular tailgaters who use her services every year; and on football weekends, Katherine’s Catering has catered up to 4,500 people between various events. “That’s a lot of chili,” Katherine tells me.
No doubt, and I was glad she brought that up, as Katherine’s signature chili is a savory vegetarian concoction as nourishing for your body as it is your soul. I can taste the assortment of beans, jalapeno, cheese, and onion – got that. But there’s something else I can’t put my finger on; I asked if she’d share the secret ingredient. “No problem.” she replied. “Cinnamon apple sauce!” The unique spin Katherine puts on traditional favorites, is just one reason her catering company has been a local favorite since 1985.
Katherine tells me for an Autumn tailgate, soups such as Chili or Tuscan Bean and Kale Soup, are ideal warm-ups for her Tailgate Torta, the ultimate show-stopper, especially at this time of year. “It’s a hearty dish encompassing all of the flavors and colors of fall,” she said. “I love serving this torta alongside clear jars of veggies- fresh fennel, red, green and yellow peppers, baby carrots and cucumber sticks – with a Â zesty lemon aioli dipping sauce.”
Katherine is married to Damian Farrell, a local architect, and they have three children, and three grandchildren. I spoke with her after she’d spent the weekend at Kalamazoo College, creating her “very own” tailgate feast; her son, Brian, just entered his freshman year and plays offensive line on their football team. Katherine was so kind as to share her top 10 tips for insuring your tailgate will also be a success.
- Plan to cook and prep a day ahead – that way you can enjoy!
- Too much food? Invite your neighbors to partake and make some new friends.
- Bring a roll up rug for comfort and to create your own space.
- Keep hot food hot, and cold food chilled.
- Keep your food in easy to seal jars and packages that fit into the cooler during the game.
- Extend your tailgate space with fold up tray jacks and trays, a portable table, and folding chairs.
- Coolers fit perfectly under your back tailgate. Fill them with frozen water bottles on hot days.
- Make a list and double check – trash can, matches, disposable products, serving utensils, wet wipes and plenty of ice and beverages.
- Condiments and snacks can be assembled, transported and served in attractive baskets. Easy set up!
- For entertainment, bring a ball to pass and a bag of sidewalk chalk for the kids.