By Sean D.
After seven years, former NFL quarterback Todd Blackledge and ESPN’s “Taste of the Town” finally made it to Oxford!
After much anticipation (and speculation) Todd announced his decision to film his segment on Big Bad Breakfast to me the night before the taping. Todd was also considering City Grocery, Ajax, and Lamar Lounge. When I asked why he chose BBB Todd said, “Breakfast is my favorite meal and when I saw that they offer shrimp and grits with egg and a biscuit, how could I not choose that?”
Todd also said he weighted Chef Currence’s use of fresh ingredients. Todd did mention in two trips he had yet to meet Chef Currence and hopes to have an opportunity for that meeting in the future.
Todd was quick to compliment the number of restaurants in Oxford for its size and the feel of the town in general; coming from someone who films a segment covering college-town eating, I think that’s a real compliment.
Todd was very pleased with the meals he’s had around Oxford, especially City Grocery and Lamar Lounge. He had the shrimp and grits at both City Grocery and BBB the day before, and said that he liked both, especially because they were different at the two restaurants.
Todd talked about his cookbook that shares the same name as the ESPN half time segment: “Taste of the Town”. In the cookbook there are not only a few of Todd’s own recipes, but recipes from each of the restaurants Todd visits during the television segment.
In the book, Todd comments on all of the restaurants that gave recipes and also includes a short piece about the football experience he had in each town. When asked about his favorite recipe in the book, Todd was quick to tell me that his go-to is his wife’s pizza that they have during the Blackledge family’s Friday movie night when Todd isn’t on the road. Todd says the cookbook has meant a lot to him, especially the games that he was able to share with his sons.
While visiting, I also got a chance to talk with Todd about one of my all-time favorite places: George’s in Baton Rouge. Taste of the Town featured George’s on the show a few weeks back. When asked about it, Todd said he loved it too, especially for its hole-in-the-wall feel and great food. I strongly recommend George’s next time you’re in Baton Rouge for an Ole Miss vs. LSU game.
It really was great to get to sit down with such a down-to-earth person and talk about food all over the country. It really showed me how food can be a common bond between anyone; even a pre law bookworm like me and a former NFL quarterback!
If you missed the segment with Todd at Big Bad Breakfast during the Ole Miss-Missouri game, keep an eye out for it when they post it online in a few weeks here.