Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has a regular order at Acre, in Auburn, Alabama. “He always gets fried calamari with red pepper coulis and blackened shrimp tacos,” says chef David Bancroft. “I should probably point out that we don’t have blackened shrimp tacos on the menu.” Like many people in the college town, Bancroft is happy to oblige.
Newton led the Auburn Tigers to a national championship in 2011. This weekend, locals will be cheering him on as he faces Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. “These guys are my two favorite quarterbacks right now,” Bancroft says. Naturally, he’s rooting for Newton and the Panthers over the New Orleans–born Manning. “Let’s just say I want the Panthers to win, but I want Manning to make it a hell of a game.
On game day, Bancroft will be serving Frito pies loaded with his signature venison chili. The recipe he gave us substitutes store-bought beef, but you’re welcome to use any meat you like—venison, pork, and turkey all work. Just don’t skimp on the fat in the roux. “That roux gives the chili its smooth texture and its rich, full-bodied flavor,” he says. “If you’re worried about burning it, turn the heat down and take your time. Drink a beer. Enjoy it.”