Get Ready. You’re Entering…Tailgate Nation

Loyal football fans know this is the season of the parking lot party. Whether you’re a Bruin or a Trojan, how you celebrate pregame says everything about who you are

The Organization Man

We asked John Simmons, father of two current USC students and one football-playing USC graduate: what goes into a Trojan tailgate?
as told to Amy wallace

If the kick-off is at 5 p.m., we’re at the Coliseum as early as 9 a.m. You don’t want to deal with traffic. Everybody has an assignment. I take care of the equipment, much of which we keep in a special shed for easy access: the TV and the self-tuning satellite and the generator (to watch other games during the day), extension cords, gasoline, the grill if we’re going to barbecue, the charcoal and whatnot, a small microwave or a Crock-Pot, the trash cans, water jugs, sometimes a blender. My sister-in-law often takes care of the drinks—usually sodas and beer and Bloody Marys and some nice chardonnays and pinots. You want to make sure everyone who stops by is comfortable. My brother brings over subs, and my wife takes care of the who-what-where and mostly everything else: turkey chili, burgers and hot dogs, chicken wings, nachos, onion dip, assorted trays of cheeses, cookies and brownies to keep the kids happy. We do a pretty good job of eating! We bring folding tables, a red-and-yellow pop-up canopy for shade (we’re all USC colors from toes to head), and if there are eight of us, we bring double the number of pop-up chairs for guests. Oh, and we have a couple of coolers just for ice—that isn’t something you want to run out of. Even with all this prep, it’s never going to be perfect. Sometimes you say, “Oh, my gosh, we forgot the corkscrew.” But the good news is, USC fans are a close group. Someone’s always going to help you out.

trythisChicken-and-Smoked Andouille Gumbo

From Brandon Boudet and Nico Sy of Dominick’s and Little Dom’s


Serves 10
Prepare the roux, soffritto, and meat before assembling.

Dark Roux
2 cups olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour

Pour olive oil in 8- to 12-quart stockpot. Heat on high until oil starts to shimmer, then reduce heat to medium. Slowly whisk in flour completely; the texture and consistency should be loose. Whisk thoroughly every ten minutes until mixture turns a milk chocolate color (or darker if desired). Depending on your stove’s BTUs, this can take up to two hours.

½ bunch scallions
¼ bunch Italian parsley
1½ ribs celery
¼ large Spanish onion
1 small green bell pepper
4 cloves garlic

Roughly chop all ingredients and combine. Finely dice in food processor (or by hand).

2½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1½ pounds smoked Andouille sausage
½ cup Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic
Olive oil
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup Crystal Hot Sauce

Slice chicken into bite-size pieces. Slice sausage into ½-inch-thick disks. Season chicken evenly with Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic. Pour ⅛ inch of olive oil into large sauté pan and place over high heat. Once oil reaches its smoking point, pan-fry chicken and sausage until chicken is nearly cooked. Finish with Worcestershire and Crystal Hot Sauce. (Optional: Skim off fat.) Assembly
15 cups strong chicken stock (hot and preferably homemade)Using a long wood spoon, carefully add soffritto to roux. (Warning: This will emit scalding steam.) Over medium-high heat, add prepared chicken and sausage. Mix well. Immediately stir in chicken stock. Simmer on low, covered, for an hour. Add salt, more Worcestershire, and more Crystal Hot Sauce to taste.

The Superfan

We asked Cindy Wooten Barajas, a second generation UCLA alumna: how do the Bruins get the job done?
As told to Julia Herbst

When you go to a football game, you sort of go back to your youth, because everyone is a Bruin, whether they’re 18 or 55. My mom went to UCLA, and I went to UCLA, and my dad was a huge USC fan, so tailgating has been a tradition in our family for a long time. From when I was about ten years old until I went to college, we went to all the USC home games. Then I started tailgating with friends I met my first year at UCLA. They’re my sorority sisters from Delta Gamma and a group of guys from my dorm who like football as much as I do. After graduation, we all got married and had kids. Most of our children are grown up now, but when they were little, it was a family activity. Tailgating is a lot of work, but to me it’s more like a labor of love. People who live for tailgating, like I do, like to be on Lot H, which, if you’re familiar with the Rose Bowl, is not the golf course side but the fun side, where the band and the team and the cheerleaders come in. One time my husband and I were waiting as the team got off the bus, and the head coach, Jim Mora, came by and double-high-fived us. We really, really liked that! I’m always a Bruin—win, lose, or draw. I’m always there for kickoff, and I never leave early. But it’s demoralizing when you lose a lot, and we had a hard 15 years before Mora came on the scene four years ago. What a turnaround! This year I think we’re expected to be ranked in the Top 10. That’s exciting for die-hard fans like myself.

trythis Soy-and-Yuzu Kosho Braised Chicken

From Neal Fraser of Vibiana and Redbird

Serves 10
½ cup soy sauce
1 jar yuzu kosho
2 ounces seasoned rice wine vinegar
5 garlic cloves
1-inch thumb of ginger, peeled and diced
1 cup chicken stock
10 chicken thighs, 10 chicken legs, and 10 chicken wings, skin on
White sesame seedsCombine soy sauce, yuzu kosho, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, and stock. Add to chicken in two 9-by-13-inch casserole dishes. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes, until chicken skin is brown. Reserve in pan until ready to eat. Garnish with sesame seeds.

It’s Time To…Get Your Tail In Gear

grillFire Away
The portable Weber Q 2200 propane grill (with stainless steel burner) is the essential ingredient for a winning cookout. » $249 at

generatorPower Up
A gas-fueled Honda EU2000i generator keeps the blender whirring, the Crock-Pot bubbling, and the TV glowing. » $1,150 at

canopyTake Cover
Pop-up canopies can provide shade in an instant, and LogoChairs offers them in UCLA and USC colors. » $181 at

coolerChill, Baby
Make sure ice, drinks, and perishables stay fresh all day in this 54-quart steel-belted vintage-style Coleman cooler. » $140 at