By Jennifer Geisman

The location is set. The beer is flowing. The team camaraderie is in abundance. What about the food? As any tailgating reveler knows, tasty football cuisine is key to a successful parking lot gathering. Over the years, San Diego Charger fans have stepped up and demonstrated their knack for tailgating fare with winning recipes and kudos from the crowd. Between the Tailgating with TailGate Beer and the Iron Tailgater recipe contests, Chargers fans have experienced firsthand the esteemed cooks among them.

The Traditionalist

Elena Colvin, winner of the 2012 Tailgating with TailGate Beer recipe contest, bridges the gap between two tailgating staples: cheeseburgers and beer. Colvin’s mouthwatering TailGate Beer and cheeseburger soup combines bacon, burger patties and cheese with Blacktop Blonde TailGate Beer and is infused with the aromatic fragrances and tastes of garlic, onion and bell pepper. The best way to serve this cheeseburger-beer combo is with homemade frites or a piping hot biscuit for dipping. In addition, Colvin’s “beer in the rear” chicken has earned her recognition amongst the most discerning tailgating crowds. The sheer laugh-out-loud name for Colvin’s chicken recipe is enough to draw in hungry tailgaters.

Another “Colvin” and Iron Tailgater winner, Kristian Colvin, does an outstanding rendition of buffalo sliders. Featuring buffalo sauce and chunks of blue cheese mixed in with the ground beef, this Colvin serves these spicy burgers on Hawaiian rolls topped with blue cheese dressing.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

The Sophisticated Palate

It is Rob Jacob’s bacon-wrapped cream cheese and basil-stuffed chicken that will really send your taste buds over the edge. The winning chef of the 2010 Iron Tailgater recipe contest, Jacob flawlessly creates an urbane tailgating meal that focuses on the details, right down to the garlic cream cheese. Jacob is also a whiz with flank steak. Just reading the recipe alone for his flank steak pinwheels send your head into a tizzy. Jacob combines asiago and Gorgonzola cheeses with spinach and butterflied flank steaks before rolling into pinwheels, and then pops them onto the grill.

Other notable dishes in this genre include Joe Giammarinaro’s (second place winner of the 2012 Tailgating with TailGate Beer recipe contest) ceviche. Giammarinaro gives a tailgating twist to the sophisticated ceviche dish, and it is all in the marinade. He blends the savory taste of garlic with the kick of ginger and then merges the two with Hefeweizen TailGate Beer. Elena Colvin gets another nod with her bacon-wrapped scallop kabobs.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

So Cal Die-Hard

What is tailgating in San Diego without a Mexican flair? Elena Colvin won an Iron Tailgating contest with both her fish tacos and her New Mexico cheese and enchiladas dish. The “special” fish taco sauce (a combo of wasabi, sour cream and lime) really makes these south-of-the-border treats stand out. And the cheese and chicken enchiladas are grilled not baked, which adds a smoky taste, and can be prepared prior to your tailgate and then grilled on the spot.

Read more about the tailgating fan.

Find great recipes for your next tailgate.

Jennifer Geisman is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at


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