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Taste Buds Explode at the Coaches Cook-Off 2015

It was a heated and intense competition as three top Oxford coaches vied to win the 2015 Coaches Cook-Off, an event put together by Visit Oxford and Ole Miss Athletics and held at the Grill at 1810 in the Manning Center Sunday.

Three local coaches competed in the Coaches Cook-off Sunday: Ole Miss women's soccer coach Matt Mott, Lafayette High School coach Eric Robertson and Oxford High School coach Johnny Hill.
Three local coaches competed in the Coaches Cook-off Sunday: Ole Miss women’s soccer coach Matt Mott, Lafayette High School coach Eric Robertson and Oxford High School coach Johnny Hill.

The event was, of course, all in good fun as Ole Miss Women’s Soccer coach, Matt Mott; Eric Robertson, head coach for Lafayette High School; and Coach Johnny Hill, head coach for Oxford High School football, prepared and presented some of their favorite tailgating dishes for an esteemed panel of judges.

The Cook-Off began Oxford’s Restaurant Week, highlighting participating restaurants and benefiting local food charities around the community. While the coaches were preparing their delicacies, Judges David Kellum – voice of the Ole Miss Rebels; Rick Mize – general manager, Q93.7 FM; and Jay Hughes, Alderman, Ward 1, went around the room and introduced representatives from each of the charities, which included Love Packs, Good Food for Oxford Schools, More Than a Meal, the Oxford Food Pantry and Meals on Wheels.

All three coaches were up to their elbows in preparation right before the event, getting things done with a little help from their friends as Ole Miss Women’s Soccer Head Coach Matt Mott admitted his partner in crime was very well known around food circles.

photo 1“Part of my job as head coach is recruiting and so I’ve recruited one of the best to help me here today, Dennis Vanoostendorp from 6 ‘N Tubbs Pizza. He’s advising me on preparing three different types of sliders,” Mott said, “a barbecued chicken slider, steak slider and a fried chicken tender slider with homemade rolls and honey mustard.”

Coach Eric Robertson from Lafayette had his wife, Tanya, assisting him with his Tater Tot Bomb and meatball-sandwich-on-a-dinner-roll.

“My Tater Tot Bomb consists of slicing the tater tot in the middle and stuffing it with mozzarella cheese, wrapping it in bacon and then putting it in brown sugar and chili pepper and baking it in the oven for about 30 minutes,” Robertson said.

Coach Johnny Hill from Oxford High School also had his wife on hand to help him.

Coach Hill after his big win.
Coach Hill after his big win.

“I’m making Pigs on the Beach (skewered and grilled shrimp, wrapped around a sausage link) and Bacon-Sausage Explosion,” Hill said. “I have my wife helping me and Butch Scott, who does the catering for Taylor Grocery, is here in spirit. Butch gave me the recipes. This is about the first time I’ve ever really cooked, so I had to have my wife along to watch over me.”

Each judge was served by the individual coaches and as the dishes were placed one by one in front of three very appreciative judges, the room became focused on the expressions of each member of the panel. After much intense deliberation (and in between continued bites of the savory food) a decision was made.

And it was coach Hill who was pronounced the winner, with the judges praising his Pigs on the Beach.

“How awesome is this? I think it was my Pigs on the Beach that did it,” Hill said. “I made two really good moves in this competition: calling Butch Scott for the recipes and getting my wife to help me cook it. It was definitely a win/win combination.”

Angela Rogalski is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at angela.rogalski@hottytoddy.com.

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