Pat and Gina Neely have co-owned one the South's most famous barbecue restaurants, Neely's Bar-B-Que, in Memphis for 22 years. In 2008, Pat and Gina began filming their hit Food Network show Down Home with the Neelys. The show captures the Neely's genuine passion for family, fun, friends, and food straight from Pat and Gina's own kitchen.
Also, Kraft Foods has partnered with the Neelys, sportscaster Erin Andrews, and quarterback Joe Montana to beat hunger this football season through the Huddle to Fight Hunger program aimed at serving 20 million meals to Americans this year.
Being prepared can make or break a game, as well as a party. What are your best party-prep tips for a tailgate party?
The Neelys: We believe that, "just like a football game, if you're not prepared for the party you will lose." In fact, Pat's mantra is "plan, plan, and plan!" Planning and preparing are the most important things a host can do.
Keep in mind that with tailgating, guests arrive early and stay late. Grill meats the day before so that all you have to do on game day is warm. Also, make salads and sides ahead and keep chilled until you're ready to serve.
When planning a tailgate menu, are you going to focus on an assortment of hors d'oeuvres or will you serve a large entrée?
The Neelys: We favor serving small and light portions over a big entrée because tailgates can be all day affairs. Set out food so people can graze before the game and well after the game is over.
Barbecue is the perfect tailgating food; it can be prepared in advance and will not spoil. Consider serving easy-to-eat finger foods like wings and ribs. Dips are always a success, especially a spicy, Mexican Cheese and bean dip.It's delicious and filling. Another great snack that will last all day is a snack mix. We prefer a tasty one that's heavy with nuts, butter and paprika.
Gina's Dip Reheating Tip: Pack an extra pot, place the dip in it, and warm it on the grill.
Can you share your MVP recipe for tailgating?
The Neelys: Memphis-Style BBQ Mac and Cheese is mouthwatering, filling, and wallet friendly. No tailgater is going to say "no" to mac and cheese under the influence of bacon, barbecue sauce, ground beef, and onions.
Menu Money Saving Tip: Any time money is a concern, serve pasta. It is inexpensive and filling.
What are the Neely's tailgate essentials?
Pat: No tailgate is complete without Gina.
Gina: You've got to have a grill at the tailgate!
The Neelys: We both agree that there is no tailgate without food and friends. Our tailgates are so much fun that people frequently miss the game. Some guests even bring a TV to watch the game because they won't ever leave the tailgate!
The Fun Tip: You can always bring the game to the tailgate, but you can't ever bring the tailgate to the game! Make it fun!