Auburn University

Saturdays in the South

First published in Current Magazine in 2007.


It is said that in the Midwest college football is a way of life but in the South it is a religion. The Third Coast states comprise the cultural epicenter of college football. In fact this handful of states has claimed 25 of the last 53 national championships including the last five in a row split between Auburn University, the University of Florida (twice), Alabama and LSU (also twice). At least five SEC programs are considered contenders for this year’s title. Most of the twelve Southeastern Conference programs are lead by head coaches that have won a national title as a player or coach.

Along the way this area has been witness to eleven Heisman Trophy winners (Cam Newton makes #12 and Auburn’s third) and bona fide dynasties at the University of Alabama (1960 – 1980), Florida State University (1988 – 2000), and the University of Miami, FL (1983 – 2002) and what would qualify as dynasties in any other part of the country from the University of Georgia (1975 – 1990), the University of Tennessee (1994 – 2001), Auburn (1982 – 1990), and Florida (1990 – 2000). Presently, LSU, Auburn, Alabama and Florida may in fact be in the midst of modern-day dynasties, only time will tell.

It is no wonder that with such unequaled tradition that fans of Southern schools take this particular amusement quite seriously. Tailgating and other game day traditions are all part of the pageantry of southern college football. Generation to generation families are passing down their Saturday rituals like they were cherished heirlooms. In a multi-part series we will take a look at the sacrament and spectacle of Saturday’s in the South.

But for those unable to make it to campus there are plenty of options to help channel that game day excitement. We are speaking of course about those bastions of masculinity adorned with flat panel TV’s and memorabilia engineered to enhance the pastime, nay the art of watching football known as sports bars. Whether you prefer your Tigers from the Bayou or crouching, awaiting hapless prey; regardless if your first stuffed animal was Big Al or Albert E. Gator you can always find like-minded individuals at one.

Our tour of places to catch a game begins in downtown Mobile at the one and only Heroes Sports Bar (Dauphin St.). Dave Rasp’s first mega-successful downtown venture is the blue-collar alter-ego of The Royal Scam (Royal St.). Heroes is like that old college buddy who never married and is always up for a round of brewskies. Featuring beer from around the world and the nefarious Big Ass burger the fun never ends. Just steer clear of Wayne Gardener’s favorite barstool.

Former Tide All-American Bob Baumhower has opened two area satellites of his Tuscaloosa institution Wing’s (Airport Blvd. and Hwy. 90 in Daphne). Ingenious décor and an imaginative menu are only a part of what makes Wing’s so popular. Elevendy-bazillion TV’s doesn’t hurt. As the name suggests hot wings are the stars of the team, but other role-players include the black and white chicken, Cuban pork roast, and the heart stopping fried ribs. Baumhower’s secret to success is giving the sports fan exactly what they want.

Fried SkrimpsMany area seafood houses are also great segregate sports bars, but one in particular can hold its own with any of the real McCoy’s. The Wintzell’s in Fairhope (Scenic Hwy. 98) has a picture perfect bar for catching all of the games. Twenty-sum-odd TV’s mounted in a semicircle that provides a view of every possible game from wherever you sit. If your team loses meaning you have to buy your pal dinner tell him how awesome the Po’ boys are; if you win then order the big ribeye topped with a half dozen fried oysters

Believe it or not, the Whiskey (Hwy. 90 near Azalea) has a nice little sports bar partially sequestered from the line dance floor, the cage fighting ring, the mechanical bull, and the game room. It is a little more luxurious than the other aspects of this grown-up amusement park; perhaps it is geared towards the sophisticated good ‘ole boy. The comfy couches will keep you calm as you watch your team on one of the giant flat screens.

Other notables include the Trophy Club on Halls Mill Rd. featuring terrific wings, burgers, and assorted sandwiches. The Loft at Lester’s (Canal Rd. Orange Beach) offers 20 screens for viewing and amazing food like pane’ed catfish Orleans and a 20 ounce fat boy ribeye. Even though Dreamland Barbecue (Old Shell Rd.) is not a sports bar, per se, it certainly acts like one with great food, hoards of TV’s, and unquestioned football synergy. And there are a number of national concepts to choose from like Hooters (three locations) and Beef O’Brady’s (two locations).

Next we begin our expedition of the South’s finest tailgating in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Food Monopoly Busting Summit in Bama

I personally have little faith that the upcoming Poultry Workshop at the Ernest L. Knight Reception Center at Alabama A & M University will accomplishing anything positive.  It is being hosted by US Attorney General Eric Holder and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

After all Holder is a coward who gives shelter to  our enemies while betraying our allies.  And good old Tom Vilsack (greed personified) has spent his career as a lobbyist for Monsanto.  Monsanto of course is exactly the type of corporation this summit is supposed to help eliminate.  With one of their big guns in charge of the USDA (Vilsack) and an AG with the spine of butterscotch pudding I doubt this will be much more than an attempt to recover much lost credibility by an administration that is at best inept.  Though she will not attend the “chicken summit” let’s not forget that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has had a long and dubious relationship with Tyson, the nation’s largest chicken producer.

And as far as some of the local politicians in attendance, Alabama Attorney General Troy King (R) has just escaped a federal indictment with more likely on the horizon.  Many in this state believe that King will lose his re-election bid this fall and soon after head for a federal penitentiary. Alabama Congressman Artur Davis is so certain that he will lose his House seat in the November election that he has decided to lose the governor’s race in stead.  Davis’ opponent for the Democratic nod, Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks is embroiled in scandal because he some how managed to secure a loan for a half million dollars after listing an annual salary of $79K and a $240K home as his only assets.

The location does not instill much confidence either.  Sure Alabama A&M has a nice school of agriculture but Normal (a suburb of Huntsville which hosts the area’s highest crime rate) is two hours from Nashville or Birmingham.  Alabama’s largest college is Auburn University which just happens to be one of the premiere agricultural institutions in the world.  Auburn is just 45 minutes from the state capitol in Montgomery and a shade over an hour from Atlanta.  It is almost like Normal was chosen because of its undesirability and lack of access.

That being said I know a lot of good people that are willing to give this a shot despite an overwhelming mistrust for Vilsack and Holder and threats from Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride.  They are all heading for Rocket Town to see if the President can finally fulfill one of his campaign promises.  I’ve not yet decided whether I’m going to make the seven hour drive or not.  I’m hopeful that this will prove a turning point for this administration but like my father always said, “Hope in one hand . . .”

Not sure what I’m talking about?  Read the USDA’s Presser:


Poultry Workshop to be Held at the Ernest L. Knight Reception Center at Alabama A & M University

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2010 – The Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the schedule and panelists for the second joint public workshop on competition and regulatory issues in agriculture, which will be held on May 21, 2010, in Normal, Ala., at the Ernest L. Knight Reception Center at Alabama A & M University. The workshop, the second of five, will focus on the poultry industry.

The workshops, which were first announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Aug. 5, 2009, are the first joint Department of Justice/USDA workshops ever to be held to discuss competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The goals of the workshops are to promote dialogue among interested parties and foster learning with respect to the appropriate legal and economic analyses of these issues, as well as to listen to and learn from parties with experience in the agriculture sector. Attendance at the workshops is free and open to the public.

The general public and media interested in attending the Alabama workshop should register at:

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division Christine Varney will participate in the workshop, and will be joined by Congressman Artur Davis, Alabama Attorney General Troy King and Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks. They will participate in a roundtable discussion with presentations on current issues affecting poultry growers. Testimony and a roundtable discussion by a panel of current and former poultry growers will follow. The workshop will also feature a panel to discuss contracting and regulatory issues in the poultry industry. The workshop will also include two sessions for public testimony.

The schedule is as follows:

9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. CDT Welcome/Introductory Comments

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Eric Holder, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice

9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. CDT Roundtable Discussion and Presentation of Issues

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Eric Holder, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice

Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, U.S. Department of Justice

Artur Davis, Congressman, U.S. House of Representatives

Troy King, Attorney General, state of Alabama

Ron Sparks, Agriculture Commissioner, state of Alabama

* The Alabama Congressional Delegation is invited

10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. CDT Coffee Break

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CDT Roundtable Discussion on Poultry Grower Issues

This panel will allow a dialogue among growers, former producers and government officials. Expected topics include competition in the poultry industry, poultry contracting, contract terminations and upgrades to poultry houses. The panel will also discuss inputs that affect grower compensation, such as bird quality, feed quality and consistency.

Moderator: Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Gary Alexander, producer, Westminster, S.C.

Kay Doby, former producer, Cameron, N.C.

Garry Staples, producer, Steele, Ala.

Robert Lumzy, former producer, Columbia, Miss.

Carole Morison, former producer, Maryland.

Shane Wootten, producer, Henagar, Ala.

Sandra Genell Pridgen, producer, North Carolina

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. CDT Lunch Break

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. CDT Public Testimony

2:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. CDT Roundtable Discussion on Trends in Poultry Production

This panel will discuss changes in the structure of poultry production and enforcement under the Packers and Stockyards Act. Issues that will be discussed include the use of the tournament system and other methods of compensation, market access, contracting, credit availability, production efficiency/improvements and poultry house upgrades.

Moderator: Norman Familant, Chief, Economic Litigation Section, U.S. Department of Justice

Benny Bishop, Peco Foods, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Michael R. Dicks, Watkins Chair, International Trade and Development, Oklahoma State University

Max Carnes, producer, Baldwin, Ga.

John Ingrum, Forest, Miss.

Cindy Johnson, attorney, Cohutta, Ga.

Robert Taylor, professor, Agricultural Economics and Public Policy, College of

Agriculture, Auburn University

Mike Weaver, producer and president of Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, Fort Seybert, W.Va.

3:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. CDT Break

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. CDT Additional Public Testimony

5:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. CDT Closing Remarks

John Ferrell, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Mark Tobey, Special Counsel for State Relations and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Justice

Additional information, including submitted public comments and transcripts for past workshops can be found at the Antitrust Division’s agriculture workshop website at While no streaming webcast will be available, transcripts will be available for this workshop at a later date on the Antitrust Division’s website. Individuals seeking more information on the workshops should contact

Media who wish to attend the workshop may begin arriving at 7:30 a.m. CDT and cameras must be pre-set by 8:30 a.m. CDT. Press inquiries regarding logistics at the Ernest L. Knight Reception Center at Alabama A & M University should be directed to Jerome Saintjones at 256-372-5607 or

Press Contacts:
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Gina Talamona

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of Communications
Jim Brownlee

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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