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Volume 21 No. 17
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Super Bowl events help chefs build on star power

When New York hosted the 2014 Super Bowl, haute cuisine came to the forefront for sports business executives and football-crazed fans attending parties around the big game. Since the popularity of celebrity chefs has not waned, gastronomy now has become a Super Bowl staple.

 

“If you’ve got a chef with a decent name, he’s making as much as all but the absolute top NFL players,” said Lonny Sweet, CEO of The Connect Group, who has been taking chef client Marc Forgione to the Super Bowl for around a decade.

Chefs Charlie Palmer and Diane Yang prep for the Culinary Kickoff.
Photo: getty images

“Name chefs have the same star power as name athletes, especially at the Super Bowl,” said Chrissy Delisle, who ran the fourth Culinary Kickoff Super Bowl benefit in Minneapolis during Super Bowl LII at chef Gavin Kaysen’s Spoon and Stable restaurant.

Randy Fisher’s Miami agency, Culinary Related Entertainment and Marketing, put on six events at Super Bowl LII, ranging from smaller parties for ESPN, to tailgates for the Super Bowl Host Committee and the NFL’s official Tailgate.

“The biggest thing propelling all this is The Food Network,” Fisher said. “Multiply that times the power of social media. Now, when food comes to the table, the first thing people reach for is their cameras.”

Like golf outings at most Super Bowls, “Expectations for good food at big events is now a given,” Sweet said. “Food is one of the big reasons people travel. It helps tell the story of that city and connect people.”

Fisher said an A-List chef can make six figures for lending his name to a Super Bowl event as executive chef, supporting that with social media.

“Food has become another facet of the entertainment business,” Fisher said. “Where this is all heading is growing culinary expression at other sports events.”

Sure enough, Delisle is expanding her Culinary Kickoff to events including the Kentucky Derby and the Masters. “Reality TV really escalated all this,” she said. “And how many parties with 3,000 people can you go to?”