Jeff Brown brings his A game to the grill at Arrowhead Stadium before Chiefs football games.
Brown, a warehouse loader at a delivery service, also grills in his Kansas City, Kan., home for his family — wife, Lisa, and four children: Austin, 24; Elizabeth, 21; Kailey, 15; and Emily, 9 — and friends.
It was a mutual love of football and food that led to a friendship between Brown and Chiefs superfan Ty “X-Factor” Rowton of Bonner Springs.
“We would be tailgating, and X-Factor just started coming around,” Brown says. “Of course, we would feed him, and he would take pictures with us. Food just has a way of bringing people together, I guess.”
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As founder of the KC Superfans organization, Rowton also does charity work through its Angels Program. During the 2015 preseason games, more than 100 disabled or ailing children and their families were treated to a day at Arrowhead.
“For the past three years, Jeff is the one who feeds all the ‘angels’ and their families that come to the games,” Rowton says. “Jeff is a great cook and a great guy, and you can tell he loves feeding people.”
Q: Even though the Chiefs aren’t in the big game, what are your plans for Super Bowl Sunday?
A: Of course, it would be awesome to tailgate at the Super Bowl, especially if the Chiefs were in it.
On Super Bowl Sunday, we’ll be at a party where I will be barbecuing these pork chops and boneless chicken strips that have been marinating in the teriyaki sauce. X-Factor gets invited to a lot of parties, but he always has a good time with our group. I think the smell of the food draws him.
Q: Was your tailgating truck always part of the game plan?
A: Well, I already had the truck, but my buddy Carl Huitt helped me fabricate a grill out of heavy-duty steel that is 2 feet wide by 4 feet long. There’s not another one like it at Arrowhead.
I really love grilling when we’re tailgating, because there’s instant gratification and feedback from people. I will make hundreds of these chops at Arrowhead, and people will eat them coming right off the grill. If you leave our tailgate hungry, it’s your own fault. This teriyaki marinade also works great with chicken, with its sweet and tangy taste. If you like a little heat, you could also add a jalapeno to the marinade, too.
Q: Even opposing-team fans stop by your tailgate. From where does your sense of hospitality come?
A: I’d like to think of it as good old-fashioned Midwestern values. We all gotta eat, and I’ll cook for anybody — even a Raiders fan. A group of Oakland Raiders superfans stopped by our tailgate with X-Factor this year, and it was fun to good-naturedly talk smack about each other’s teams. The people at Arrowhead feel like an extended family to me, and I’m happy to share food with anyone who wants to stop by. The best part is that the grill is still warm after the game, and we will often tailgate after the game together to rehash the plays.
Q: You are also really involved in the KC Superfans’ Angels Program, feeding hundreds of people at a time.
A: X-Factor got me involved, because he knew I could grill and loved to tailgate. Chiefs fans donate their seats, parking passes and money to bring children with disabilities out to Arrowhead for a preseason game. I feed the children and their families, and it’s just a great time. Former Chiefs players come by, and I can’t tell you what it means to see these children with their families smiling and having a good time.
X-Factor has a big heart and started this because of his own 8-year-old daughter, Jenna, who is currently in a wheelchair. Kansas City isn’t just one of the best tailgating cities when it comes to football. We are just one of the best cities, period. So many different people come together at Arrowhead, and even though there may be some good-natured ribbing, at the end of the day it’s really a good feeling to reach out to strangers around you and offer them something to eat.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a cook.
To book an X-Factor appearance or donate to the Angels Program, contact Ty Rowton at KCSuperfans.com.
Kansas City Chiefs Chops
Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 boneless pork chops, butterflied
In a large glass mixing bowl, whisk teriyaki sauce, honey, brown sugar, ginger and garlic powder together until well-combined. Pour mixture into a large resealable plastic bag and add pork chops.
Seal bag and make sure meat is covered by marinade. Place in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.
To prepare pork chops: Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat or 375 degrees, or prepare a hot fire in charcoal grill and set grate on highest setting. (To imbue more flavor, add hickory or cherry wood chips to fire.)
Place pork chops on grill and close lid. Discard remaining marinade. Grill about 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chop. When you have a good sear and caramelization, turn chop over and grill uncooked side for about another 5 minutes.
Insert a meat thermometer into center of the pork chop. Remove meat from grill when the internal temperature reads 145 degrees. Place meat in roasting pan and cover with aluminum foil for 5 minutes. While meat is resting, the internal temperature should rise to 150 degrees.
Per serving: 214 calories (21 percent from fat), 5 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 51 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrates, 23 grams protein, 733 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.