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Joe Cahn - Tailgate Commissioner
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Joe Cahn
Joe - Professional Tailgater

Joe Cahn has the best job in the world. A Miami newspaper even voted being the unofficial “Tailgate Commissioner” as the max as far as jobs go. Joe simply travels around the United States in his RV hitting one tailgate party after another. He doesn’t even fire up a grill. He just parks and wanders around from group to group gabbing and grubbing.

Life Before the Full-Time Road Trip

Joe previously owned and operated a cooking school – The New Orleans School of Cooking. He sold the operation in 1980. The school, which offers a 3-hour course in basic Louisiana cooking, is still in operation. Joe says that he feels good about starting something that has had staying power, but he doesn’t miss his old life.

Cranked Up and Ready to Roll

In 1996, Joe bought a motor home – his first. He had in mind to create some type of travel television cooking show. He puttered over to Super Bowl XXXI, held that year in his hometown, and “fell in love with the party and the social aspect” of tailgating.

As a professional chef, Joe had been to various cities across the country, but it was always “in and out – airports.” He was only seeing the newest, trendy restaurants.

“I wanted to start really seeing the country,” said Joe. “Adventure. That’s what I craved.”

Joe sold his home and hit the road in his Joe Mobile. Stanley Thermos Company sponsored Joe’s rather unorthodox endeavor, and he had a brand new job that will likely never be listed under “jobs” on a federal tax return.

Forget the Cooking

You might expect that the “Commissioner of Tailgating” sets up and shows off his culinary skills, but Joe simply walks around and joins other tailgaters.

“I eat more home-cooked meals than anyone in the country,” said Joe. “I eat maybe twenty or thirty times a day.”

Joe does say that he’s learned to take smaller portions. “I used to be a big pig,” he said. “Now, I’m a little pig. I’m still moving a little slower at the end of a season.”

Don’t Tailgaters Find This Strange?

After eleven years on the road as the king of tailgating, Joe says that he’s recognized and constantly invited to stop and sample. He sees many friends season after season and enjoys watching the tailgate kids grow up. His trips become more like family reunions as the years pass.

“The difference between an acquaintance and a friend is breaking bread,” said Joe. “You take company to the living room. Friends gather in the kitchen. Tailgating is like one huge kitchen.”

Regulars look for Joe and fuel him up with steak, ribs, and chicken. Plus, he adds new buddies at every stop. “I probably talk to more people one-on-one than anyone anywhere,” he said.

Memorable Moments on the Road

One of Joe’s favorite tailgating groups hails from New York. Three men (a chef, a home insurance man, and a guy in the furniture business) tag team cook and crank out forty to fifty different dishes every season. “Very impressive,” said Joe.

Joe also enjoys looking for the Big Pig cooker. The Kansas City tailgater found the cooker in the weeds. It had been built for a smoke house and then was never claimed. The smoker is shaped like a pig and is the most unusual grill Joe has seen on his travels.

Another memory is not so pleasant. A group caught a deep fat turkey fryer on fire and then tried to extinguish the fire with water. Joe does not recommend deep fat cooking at tailgate events. “Too many balls flying around,” said Joe. “It’s just not safe.”

Will the Journey Ever End?

Joe loves traipsing from party to party with his cat, Sophie. He savors the smell of smoke in the air and enjoys parking lots, which he likens to big back yards with no privacy fences.

“I see doing this until the tires go flat or until my first cholesterol check,” said Joe.

If you want to catch up with Joe, then check the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) where you’ll find tips, recipes, and a schedule of Joe’s stops for the year. Also, be sure to visit Joe at his website,

Here is a recipe from Joe:

Joe’s Grilled Garlic Toast

•           1/2 lb. butter
•           1/2 lb. margarine
•           1 cup parsley, chopped
•           8-12 cloves garlic, minced
•           1/2 cup Romano cheese (optional)


Soften butter and margarine to room temperature. Fold in parsley, garlic and cheese. Spread on loaf of bread cut in thick slices. Place on hot grill until toasted.


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