By CATHI AYCOCK

College, NFL and high school football season is here, which means tailgate parties already have begun cranking up. If you panic and run to the grocery for chips before the big game, listen up. We asked local chefs what they serve at the tailgate for inspiration. Because defaulting to chips and dip isn’t an option when food is your obsession — these pros deliver and give us great tailgate ideas.

Donnie Counts, Executive Chef, Puckett’s Boat House
Macaroni Salad

Ribs are always a go to. They are fun to cook, and easy to eat. But a good macaroni salad can’t be beat either. You can make it ahead and it is a nice, cool, creamy option with anything grilled.

Macaroni Salad

Make Ahead Macaroni Tailgate

4 cups Elbow Macaroni
3 whole Roasted Red Peppers, Chopped
1/2 cup Black Olives, Chopped Fine
6 whole Sweet/spicy Pickle Slices, Diced (about 1/2 cup, diced)
3 whole Green Onions, Sliced (white And dark green parts)
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Or Distilled Vinegar
3 teaspoons Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Black Pepper
Splash Of Pickle Juice (spicy sweet pickles)
Extra Pickle Juice To Taste
Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool. Combine remaining ingredients to form dressing. Pour over cooked macaroni. Recipe from The Pioneer Woman.

Jason McConnell, Chef and owner of Red Pony, 55 South, Cork & Cow, and McConnell House
Bacon Wrapped Venison & Jalapeño poppers with comeback sauce is something different and special for tailgates

I went to Ole Miss, so I will be cheering for the Rebels. And Ole Miss takes tailgating to another level.

comeback-kick-off-sauce

Comeback Kickoff Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon each, salt, garlic powder and onion powder
Combine all ingredients and chill.

Recipe from My Recipe.

Corey King, Executive Chef, Homestead Manor
Maryland crab cakes or char-broiled oysters

Not your typical Southern tailgate food I know.

I was born in Nashville, raised in Rhode Island and have traveled to 22 states. I fell in love with New Orleans and Baltimore, hence the seafood tailgate theme. If I am cheering for a football team, it is always going to be the Dallas Cowboys. After I saw Tony Dorsett run for a 99-and-a-half yard touchdown, I’ll be a Cowboys fan for life.

crab-cakes

Crowd Pleasing Crabcakes

One pound crab meat, shredded
1 1/2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
dash of hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven broiler. Mix together crabmeat, bread crumbs, parsley, salt and pepper.Beat together egg, mayonnaise, hot sauce and mustard. Combine with other ingredients and mix well. Form into patties and place on a lightly greased broiler pan or baking sheet. Broil for 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly brown. Recipe from AllRecipes.

Cassie Presley,Green Hills Grille, Executive Chef
Bacon Triple Double

A double patty burger that has three types of cheese, one being spicy, topped with crispy bacon and lots of toppings . You must eat it with a baby’s bib. Messy!

Jesse Quatro, Kitchen Manager, Puckett’s Gro., Downtown Franklin
Barbecue + Mayo Sauce

Burgers, brats and wings. If you want to take it up a notch, add specialty mustards, and, one of my favorite easy sauces, equal parts Puckett’s Barbecue Sauce and mayo. Creamy and smoky, it is good on everything.

Good On Everything Sauce

1/2 cup Puckett’s Barbecue Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
dash of hot sauce to taste
Combine and serve with grilled brats and burgers.

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