The Cowboys draft was still making headlines when the Taste of the NFL: The Ultimate Cowboys Tailgate Party was setting into its new home-sweet-home at AT&T Cowboy Stadium on Sunday, May 3. Benefiting North Texas Food Bank, more than 800 enjoyed a food fest coordinated by Kent Rathbun and rubbed elbows with Cowboy notables Jason Garrett, Chad Henning, Preston Pearson, Charles Haley and Troy Aikman and cheerleaders.
This was Kent’s 11th year and he was very pleased to be at the stadium this year — “It’s where we should have been all the time.” He went on to remind folks that “when we raise $1, it’s basically three meals (for those in need).”
Despite his catering operation having handled six events the day before and his preparing for the opening of his new restaurant — Hickory Kitchen in Plano — and another Jasper’s in Richard this fall, he was cooking up waffle cut fries with braised short ribs and blue cheese.
Before the masses were allowed entry, the VIP types partied somewhere within the building while in the Miller Lite West Plaza Kent and 20+ chefs set up stations with the wind giving them a challenge. But not Dunia Borgia. She should have been elected Miss Congeniality as she wandered the grounds offering Micrema Bespoke Frozen Dessert. The handmade pistachio ice cream was a huge hit. Dallas Cowboys PR Scott Agulnek said, “I don’t eat desserts and sweets, but the pistachio is the best! I’ve had two spoonfuls already!” Dunia whispered that the secret was using nitrogen to freeze it.
Over to the side of the plaza was the Big “Cowboys on Tour” truck chock full of Cowboys great days memorabilia — Super Bowl rings and trophies, TV screens showing 2014 season highlights, helmets, a Tom Landry statue and so much more. Hall of Fame Driver Charles Blotas proudly detailed the massive mobile museum. It’s pulled by a big blue-and-white Freightliner cab boasting a star. Including the trailer and cab the whole thing measures 83 feet.
As the general admission types were allowed in from one side of the silent auction area, the VIP’s emerged from their partying.
Like other former Cowboys, linebacker and defensive end Charles Haley said, “I come every year. I do whatever I can. We need to fight hunger. It needs to be on more people’s minds. This year is the best because it’s at Cowboys stadium. A lot of players are here. It ties everything together; didn’t have the same feel before. I’ve been coming every year. If everyone in the country gave just $1 or $5, it would wipe out hunger. I’m just one man… if we did more as a nation, we could knock it out!…[I got into philanthropy] in 1986, my rookie year with the 49ers, when Ronnie Lott made me hand out shoes. I saw people crying. It taught me so much. I’m always in the community, always trying to make a difference. I want to set an example. I do whatever it takes. I raise money of ‘Istation,’ (an animated learning curriculum).
As the sunset in the west, NTFB CEO Jan Pruitt slo-moed the bucking bull. She’d never done it before but said, “Anything for a good cause! It’s all about feeding kids in our community. The goal is to make people aware that there are children in our community tonight that are hungry. The Cowboys have opened the door to their home and said, ‘Not in Dallas, Texas!’ If we’re gonna talk about affordable health care, we’ve gotta talk about feeding the kids. Richard a bull to raise money for hunger is easy compared to the mother who has to tell her child there’s not enough food to eat.” The good news is that Jan stayed on board the bull. Her only regret was that her orange nail polish didn’t match her seaside blue nail polish. Oh, the woes of a bull riding fashionista!
Speaking of fashion, emcee Gina Miller’s long legs were rooted in her Dallas Cowboys boots that her mom had bought at auction in 1990. She was joined on stage with KTVT’s Doug Dunbar were on stage with Rowdy and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders…. George Washington University Medical Center Dr. Eliot Sorel in bowtie was in town for the National Council on Youth Sports Safety of which he was co-chairing… Taryn Timmons and Jenn Wilde were looking for Taryn’s sister Danya Anderson, who is a big supporter of the event because “She has a heart for the Food Bank!”… Near the mechanical bull were Ricardo Marin, Danny Foreman, Frances Benavides, Genie Pattison and Josh Sanchez playing Jenga. They got it to 23 blocks high before it tumbled down. Josh, recalled playing the block building game back in Telluride where they played Jenga at a bar, “There.”… Former Dallas Cowboys/Air Forces Academy grad Chad Henning was talking with fellow Air Force grad Col. Joseph Sanders, who heads up the Air Force Academy’s Center for Character and Leadership Development…Troy Aikman and gal-pal Tracy Ripsin posed for photos with Rachel Garay and Pono Tuinei, the widow for Dallas Cowboys Mark Tuinei.
Louisiana band Rusty Brothers fessed up that for the evening that, “We may or may not be Saints fans, but tonight we’re Cowboys fans!”
And on this night foodies were feeding themselves so that the North Texas Food Bank could feed children in the days to come.