On Saturday, September 7, two of Florida's most talented will battle it out for glory at Sun Life Stadium.
Oh, and afterward there's a football game between the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes.
DeRosa, a lifelong Gator, is serving Ibis and waffles, in honor of the UM mascot, the Ibis, getting "roasted" by his beloved team. OK. It's really chicken and waffles... but you get the point. In addition to giving Gators fans the "bird," DeRosa will be offering beef cheek burgers. There's Dales Pale Ale for Gators and Orange and Blue Gatorade for all Miami fans.
Pagano, a UM fan ("It's all about the U, baby!") prefers to not go all "literal" with gator bites on the grill. Instead, the chef is offering Italian-style pulled pork with fresh cole slaw on potato buns with garlic aioli. There will be Heineken shandys to wash the sammies down with.
Gravity Brewlab's Diego Ganoza has also brewed a special game day malt liquor beer for the occasion. Called the Malt Licker, the brew will be offered to fans of both teams -- because nothing cools off a heated battle like a local brewski.
And, whether you're Ibis or Gator you're invited to shake your tail feathers (or scales) to DJ Mark Leventhal, who will be spinning while you nosh. The cost to you, dear football fan?
Free! Well, once you pay for parking -- which is $25.
Why are these two chefs serving free meals before the game instead of enjoying a brief respite of peace and quiet before heading back to their respective kitchens in anticipation of a busy Saturday evening dinner service?
Chef Pagano is "all-in" on Miami and just wants to show his support. "As a happy Miamian I root for my home teams with reckless abandon. You can find me courtside at the Heat. You can look for me on the sidelines at the Dolphins, and I relax and the Clevelander at Marlins games. But nothing gets me more jazzed then being at a tailgate on a Saturday morning rooting on my favorite Miami Hurricanes!"
Chef DeRosa, is a University of Florida alum and a self-proclaimed, "die hard Gator fan" who "bleeds blue and orange." He's showing up for the game with a predetermined win already in his mind. "First off, my love of sports comes from a trend of complete domination. The SEC has won the last seven National Championships, the Gators have won three in the last decade. While the Canes have won five titles in their day, sadly they have not been to the "Big Show"since 2001. Check the facts. I believe the last time Florida and Miami met in 2008, the score was 26-3 with a Gator Victory."
When all is said and done, can two talented chefs stay friends after such a heated rivalry?
DeRosa thinks it's possible at the end of the day. "It's great to have such a friend, comrade, and sports enthusiast dishing out great food for our tailgate. However, I believe the Heineken shandys may be blurring his view of reality and outcome of our upcoming game. My prediction? Gators by 10, Some Miami fan drinks too much and knocks over the turkey fryer, and Ralph is wearing a Gator jersey by halftime! "
Pagano also believes in friendship... but disagrees with everything else. "I don't know if you know, but DeRosa calls himself 'The Commish' and rules a world of Fantasy Football. He may be a gridiron superfan, but his love of his school is getting in the way of his love of the game! My prediction? The Canes win; the pulled pork is kick ass; and I run out of beer!"
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The game, which starts at noon, is sold out, but this epic battle of the chefs is open to all -- whether or not you've got tickets to the actual event. After all, it seems like the real action is taking place in the parking lot!