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Brats don't make the cut with tailgating chef
University of Tampa chef Daniel Buyle infuses his pregame meals with creativity and a lot of spice.
By Brendan Watson, Times staff writer
Published October 10, 2007
[Times photo: Ross Mantle]
Daniel Buyle and Allison Rohlfs, both of Tampa, eat ribs before the Rams-Buccaneers game. Chef Buyle bases menus on regional cuisine.
TAMPA - Outside Raymond James stadium the smells and sounds of outdoor kitchens hang in the air. Steaks sizzle on one portable gas grill. Italian sausages, onions and green peppers are tended over the heat of another. A group of Bucs fans relaxes with sandwiches made of grouper caught in the Gulf of Mexico the day before.
In the far southwest corner of Lot7, Daniel Buyle is anonymous. That is, until a fan of the opposing team pokes fun at his minigrill. He's surrounded by the most serious of the parking lot's tailgaters. They arrive at 9 a.m. for a 1 p.m. start.
Buyle doesn't take the bait because he knows a thing or two about cooking. He has been the executive chef for the University of Tampa for seven years, and he formerly cooked at La Bordeaux in Tampa, among other restaurants. To him, football is coincidental.
"The tailgate comes first. The game comes second. That's important," he says.
Craig Ross, owner of the tiny grill and a season ticket holder since 1993, laughs. Back in the day, before Buyle, Ross cooked.
When the gang relied on him, the food wasn't so hot, Allison Rohlfs of Tampa says, joking.
Rohlfs introduced Ross to her friend, Teri Kelly, who later become his wife. She added the red tent, the Bucs chairs and the table.
Then Rohlfs met Buyle at a NASCAR party, and Buyle joined the group of 40-somethings during the 2003 Bucs season. He then took over responsibility for the menus.
Since then, the pregame festivities have grown in size and lavishness. Forget standard burgers and dogs. The menus are based on the regional cuisine of the opposing team. Playing St. Louis? Ribs it is. When the Saints come marching in, nothing will do but jambalaya.
Buyle made the tomato-based sauce for the jambalaya at home and cooked the rest - rice, andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp - on the grill. Buyle has cooked in 22 states, so he has a lot of regional knowledge to draw from.
He worked in Seattle and counts the cuisine of the Emerald City among his primary influences.
That was never more evident than last New Year's Eve, when the Bucs played the Seahawks. Everybody is still talking about a seafood boil Buyle made with Dungeness and king crab, lobster, clams, shrimp, potatoes and corn.
When the food was cooked, he dumped the contents of the 5-gallon turkey fryer onto a table covered in newspaper. Adhering to thetradition at a seafood boil, the group ate with their hands.
"It was like a food trough," says Rohlfs, who is to marry the chef later this month.
For away games, the group heads to a Champs sports bar, or they cook at one of their homes.
Some of Buyle's memorable menus for away games, when he has a full kitchen to work with, include foie gras and beef Wellington. Always served with beer.
Buyle occasionally lets someone else cook. Against the Rams, Kelly was in charge of the ribs.
"He'll sit back, but he'll check on you and make sure you put everything in and stand over you and ask, 'Why are you doing it that way?'" says Jamie Lanier, Buyle's sous chef at the university.
Buyle admits it's hard to relax in the kitchen, even when it's outdoors. But his Sunday tailgate crew is glad to have a leader who takes food seriously.
"The food has gotten a lot better," Rohlfs says.
Buyle has been busy launching Panache, a new restaurant at the University of Tampa, so he hasn't yet planned his menu for this week's opponent, the Tennessee Titans. But if Rohlfs had to guess, she'd bet on a dry rub beef brisket using a secret recipe, topped off with a Jack Daniel's whiskey-infused barbecue sauce.
No matter what happens on the field, Buyle's friends will go home satisfied.
Entree Jambalaya 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 cup onion, diced 1/2 cup green pepper, diced 1/2 cup celery, diced 2 cups boneless chicken thighs, chopped in pieces 8 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined 2 cups cooked andouille sausage, thinly sliced 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes 1 22-ounce can crushed tomatoes 2 tablespoons chopped garlic 1 tablespoon beef base 1 tablespoon chicken base 1 cup water 1 teaspoon thyme 1 tablespoon dried basil 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano 1 bay leaf 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 teaspoon white pepper 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon Tabasco Salt to taste 1 cup uncooked rice For extra heat, add 4 diced, seeded fresh jalapeno peppers
- Saute onion, peppers and celery in vegetable oil until golden brown; set aside.
- In the same pan, saute chicken pieces until golden brown; add shrimp and sausage. Cook until shrimp is cooked through.
- Add sauteed vegetables and remaining ingredients except rice. Bring to a boil and add rice. Bring to a boil again and cover. Turn heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Set aside for 5 minutes and fluff with a spoon.
Serves 4 to 6.
Source: Daniel Buyle
Entree Seafood Boile 2 gallons water 1 gallon dry white wine 6 lemons, cut in half 2 cups peeled garlic cloves 1 1/2 cup salt 3 bags crawfish boil seasoning 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning 3 pounds small red potatoes 1 1/2 pounds fresh okra 6 ears fresh corn on the cob (broken in half) 6 links raw andouille sausage 6 lobster tails 3 pounds Dungeness crab clusters 5 pounds crawfish 2 pounds Alaskan king crab legs 3 pounds medium shrimp in shells 3 pounds fresh clams 3 pounds fresh mussels
- Add water, wine, lemons, garlic, salt, crawfish boil and Cajun seasoning to a deep pot (with basket) of a propane turkey fryer. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.
- Place potatoes in basket and bring to a boil; simmer for 15 minutes. Add okra and corn; simmer for 10 minutes. Add andouille sausage; cook for 5 minutes. Add remaining seafood; bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Pull handle to bring the basket up, let drain for 1 minute. Throw newspaper down on a picnic table and pour basket of heaven on top of paper.
- Serve with favorite hot sauce and melted butter with garlic and lemon.
Tip: Replace lid on pot every time you add items to the boil.