Food & Drink

Chef-Approved Tailgating Essentials

Chris Hastings of Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club and OvenBird shares his must-haves for game day

Photo: Brennan Wesley

Haskell Harris (@haskellharris) is the style director at Garden & Gun

I lived in Birmingham, Alabama, for five years before I arrived at Garden & Gun in Charleston, South Carolina, and I still miss chef Chris Hastings and the Hot and Hot Fish Club. He’s as friendly as his food and Hastings is someone who knows how to do game day, thanks to more than three decades spent mastering the high art of crowd-pleasing.

“We tailgate at the University of Alabama and the site varies, but we usually arrive about four hours ahead of kickoff,” he says. His two children, Zeb and Vincent, are Alabama alums; Hastings attended culinary school at Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island, where his tailgating experience was limited to flag football games, so there’s no family or sibling sports rivalry in sight at his get-togethers. Just good friends, a good time, and really good food.

Photo: Courtesy of Chris Hastings

Chef Chris Hastings and his wife, Idie, at an Alabama tailgate.

Biggest tailgating success: His dad’s grilled chicken. “It’s marinated in Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, chili flakes, thyme, garlic, and butter for hours, and because of the marinade and the way we grill it, it looks like it’s burnt so it’s a big surprise for folks. It has a darkness to it because of the Worcestershire and a bright flavor from the lemon and it’s moist on the inside. Once people taste it they’re like ‘Oh, okay, I get it now, it’s not burnt.’”

Biggest tailgating fail: “My favorite salad in the fall is an apple endive salad with a creamy dressing that has tarragon and chervil and parsley, and one year I did it with red and white endive. It was beautiful to look at, but it was a little like somebody showed up in a tuxedo to go to a tailgate—it was out of place. I was the only one who ate it,” he laughs.


Items on chef Chris Hastings’s tailgating checklist:

Coleman Coastal Extreme Portable Cooler, 120 Quart

“This cooler has great inside capacity, holds ice exceptionally well, and isn’t too heavy. I would need five average coolers to fit what I need to tailgate due a lack of inside capacity in most.” $58

Back Forty Beer and Cahaba Brewing

“I love both of these guys and their beers, especially Back Forty’s Freckle Belly ale and Cahaba Brewing’s American Blonde ale.”



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Hope everyone enjoyed their Lador Day weekend! @captaindave37398 did it right with some #CahabaBlonde. Cheers! 🍻💛🍻💛🍻 Well folks, there’s no denying it. Tuesdays are made for #TacosAndTrivia. Lucky for you, we’ve got both happening tonight! Trivia starts at 7 & @tacomorroloco will be here at 5:30.. come see us!

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JBL Portable Boombox

“This has great sound, it’s six pounds, and it’s waterproof!” $419


Kijaro Portable Camping Chair

“These are light, sturdy, affordable, and best of all, they have two drink holders.” $35

Thermos Stainless Steel Insulator

“This is the best koozie on the planet because it holds its temperature, covers the entire can, and has a 360-degree drinking feature on the lid.” $15

CBS Sports App

“This is the ideal way to get scores and live stream games.” Free

 Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill

“Simple and perfect.” $149

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