From Canton Repository | Jan. 29, 2013
By Saimi Rote Bergmann | Photos By Scott Heckel
Carl Falcone is heading to the Super Bowl, but he won’t be watching Joe Flacco, Colin Kaepernick and any of the on-field action.
Falcone will be cooking. And eating.
Falcone, executive chef at Bender’s Restaurant, won the right to represent Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the “Taste of the NFL,” a Super Bowl event Saturday in New Orleans. He and Bender’s General Manager Jon Jacob will be cooking sea scallops for 1,200 people.
Then on Sunday, instead of joining football fans inside the Superdome, he intends to check out New Orleans restaurants.
“I’ve never been to New Orleans,” Falcone said. “I want to taste all the local cuisine, to absorb the local flavors. I’m really looking forward to it.”
At the Taste of the NFL, a strolling food and wine event, a chef from each of the 32 cities with an NFL team, plus a chef from Canton as the home of the Hall of Fame, will serve a signature dish. At each station, a former or current NFL player will sign autographs and pose for photos. Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure will be at the Bender’s station. Other participating players include Tim Brown and Andre Reed, both finalists for Saturday’s vote for this year’s Hall of Fame enshrinees.
So who gets to attend?
“Anyone who pays the $600 entry fee,” quipped Jacob. Taste of the NFL is a fundraiser to support food banks.
Apparently there are a lot of people willing to pony up that $600 fee, because they increased the number of tickets this year.
“When my good friend, Mark Pullin (then chef at the Canton Club), went last year, he had to make 800 plates. They bumped it up to 1,200 plates this year,” Falcone said. “It’s a little daunting.”
Jacob admits he and Falcone are nervous about cooking at a convention center that doesn’t have a kitchen, and working out of refrigerator trucks.
“Some of the major cities send the same chefs year after year, but for us, we’re going in there blind, which causes a little anxiety,” Jacob said. “But we’re getting in on Thursday so there’s plenty of time to scout out what’s going on.”
Falcone and Jacob, with help from Jacob’s wife, Elizabeth, and some students from a New Orleans culinary school, will serve a seared Georges Bank scallop on Parmesan polenta with a beurre blanc sauce — the same dish that won the Canton “Taste of the NFL” contest in the fall of 2011, and earned them the trip to New Orleans.