Written by Luis Sung | Twitter: @FLSportDebater
John Offerdahl: Dolphins alumni, star linebacker, voted to five straight Pro Bowls over the course of his career and a two-time All Pro. He was a leader who made a huge difference from the beginning to the end of his career. He did all that...and he can cook too.
More specifically, Offerdahl is a grill master, as he calls himself the Gridiron Griller, and he's made it his mission to merge the best of both his worlds into one amazing experience: The Gridiron Grilloff. Offerdahl and his wife started the event four years ago, and this year will be their fifth Gridiron Grilloff.
"My wife and I have a calling to impact South Florida." Offerdahl said during an interview, "With me being in the football world and in the food world, it made sense for us to make a collision out of those two industries. So from gridiron to grill, from football to food, and we said 'let's bring it together'."
Through what Offerdahl calls the "Food, Wine, and Tailgate Festival, he brings chefs and his fellow athletes - which includes the likes of guard Larry Little, center Dwight Stephenson, running back Mercury Morris, linebacker Zach Thomas, guard Ed Newman and so many more - and he makes competitive teams out of them to see who can come up with the best grill recipe of the day for the attendees to eat and enjoy.
"Ed Newman actually won it last year with a restaurant called Yolo's, they created a grilled octopus that was unbelievable, paired it up with some great Gala Wine."
Besides the competition, people can go to the Festival and seek autographs from 25 Dolphins alumni and play all sorts of different tailgate games like Cornhole. Offerdahl originally got involved in the food industry during his time as a football player, and he hasn't looked back ever since then.
"When I started my bagel business in the midst of my football career, it got me into the food industry, and so it made sense for me to continue to bring those two worlds together. So now instead of baking bagels, going from the bagel boy to the grill guy, now I love grilling and grill chicken, steak and salmon."
But Offerdahl isn't out to just show the connection between the world of football and the world of food, far from it. He wants to use his influence and the influence of the world of football to make a positive difference in the lives of people all over South Florida.
"I bring the hospitality industry, restaurants and hotels, and the football world and the celebrities together in a collision that feeds the needs of kids in crisis." Offerdahl said, "Putting those two worlds together makes a lot of sense when you can kinda leverage the intangibles and kinda the sparkle and the magic of it all for the benefit of the community."
Offerdahl made it very clear to me that the Gridiron Grilloff is more than just an opportunity for food and football fans to come together and enjoy a fun-filled day, it is a charity event in and of itself.
"All the proceeds go to Offerdahl's Hand-Off Foundation, which feeds the needs of kids in crisis." Offerdahl said, "And we focus them on six charities, so it's really a pass-through foundation that gives grants out to foster care and family homelessness, so 4kids of South Florida and HOPE South Florida, those are two agencies in Broward County that are working."
4kids of South Florida does Foster Care, while HOPE South Florida takes on the family homelessness. Along with those two, Offerdahl's Foundation gives support to the food industry through the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, which has educational programs in Broward County, and the Here's Help Culinary School for Drug Rehab. Offerdahl also supports the football side of things through The Taste of the NFL and the Miami Dolphins Foundation.
"It's a great day of fun and festivities for a purpose," Offerdahl said, "If you love football and you love food, this is like a no-brainer."
Offerdahl assured me that the cost of the ticket itself is by far exceeded by the amount and quality of the entertainment, and of course since all the proceeds go to the various charities, it's an amazing experience for an amazing cause. On top of all that, Offerdahl is offering a special ten-dollar discount for people who buy tickets before the end of September. The event itself takes place November 8th, which is a Saturday, at the Pompano Beach Ampitheather. So any and all foodies and football fans out there should purchase tickets as soon as possible. For more information on the event itself or to buy tickets, go to gridirongriller.com. Personally, I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
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