Now in its seventh year, John Offerdahl’s Broward Health® Gridiron Grill-Off Food & Wine Festival will pair NFL athletes with top chefs from area restaurants for a culinary event to benefit local charities on Saturday, November 12 from 1 – 4 p.m. at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater. And while sampling all that great food, guests have the opportunity to mingle with Dolphin athletes, take photos and collect autographs.
“We’re thrilled to host our seventh annual Gridiron Grill-Off and each year it only gets better by welcoming new restaurants and Miami Dolphins legends,” said John Offerdahl, event founder and former Miami Dolphins All-Pro Linebacker. “This event is a labor of love and we can’t wait for our fans to indulge in great food, football and fun.”
The Grill-Off teams, comprised of NFL legends and acclaimed chefs, will serve up innovative grilled entrees paired with premium Kendall-Jackson wines to nearly 3,000 foodies. The teams will vie for the 2016 Judge’s Choice and Fan Favorite awards. Past award-winning dishes include Grilled Spanish Octopus, Grilled Cobia Fish Tacos, Bacon & Bleu Rib-Eye, Espresso and Chocolate Crusted Filet Mignon and Key West Shrimp Tacos.
A legendary combination
Among the NFL Legends who will participate in the Grill-off this year is Eugene Mercury Morris, a former star running back for the Miami Dolphins in the 1970s, a time when they advanced to three consecutive Super Bowls, including back to back victories in Super Bowls VII and VIII.
Morris has participated in the Gridiron Grill-off since its inception and said he’s had the privilege to watch the event grow. Though he and Offerdahl played for the Dolphins at different times, Morris said there is a sense of camaraderie among the players and he got to know John Offerdahl personally when he was a guest on a spiritually-based radio show he hosted in the 90s.
“He’s a good example of the circumstances surrounding your belief and how it’s brought us all together to help those who are in need.”
Morris said he’s especially excited to have former teammate and Dolphin Running Back Jim Kiik join him at the Gridiron Grill-off this year as well.
Running backs Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris combined their different running styles in the Dolphins’ backfield to become one of the greatest running back trios to ever play the game, as documented in an NFL Network Special, “The Perfect Backfield.”
Morris recalled, “Jim and I were people who fought for the same position,” but now in their 60s their relationships have grown and he is looking forward to joining with Kiik and other Dolphin players at the event.
“People come to see us there and enjoy the food, but it’s ultimately about helping other people,” said Morris. “It extends good will and they in turn get to give to a purpose beyond themselves through the proceeds from the ticket sales.”
One hundred percent of event net proceeds will benefit Offerdahl’s Hand-Off Foundation. Since its inception, this effort has raised more than $100,000 for its charity partners, which “feed the needs of kids in crisis.”
Hope South Florida, a non-profit organization serving homeless families in Broward County by providing housing, mentoring relationships and community one-stop service centers, receives proceeds to instill hope in the homeless.
Modern-day orphans benefit from proceeds donated to 4KIDS of South Florida, which is dedicated to finding loving homes for kids who have been removed from their families due to abuse or neglect.
Funds are given so students receive scholarships to pursue careers in the culinary arts and hospitality industries through the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association Educational Foundation.
The Taste of the NFL uses its funds to raise money in support of food banks throughout the United States. Some proceeds benefit Feeding South Florida, a leading domestic hunger relief organization.
Offerdahl’s Hand-Off Foundation also supports Here’s Help, a provider of residential and outpatient substance abuse treatment for adolescents and young adults in Miami-Dade County, and the Miami Dolphins Foundation, devoted to supporting youth athletic programs and volunteer activities.
How it started
The idea for the Grill-Off came after he attended a Lifework Leadership class hosted by the National Christian Foundation that caused him to consider two questions: What is my significance, and how can I leverage what I do for eternal gain? He decided to use his talents to serve.
“We have an opportunity to bring two industries together – the restaurant and hotel industry with NFL football – to generate funds for faith-based agencies working alongside government to help fragmented families in our community,” Offerdahl said.
Having started his restaurant career as the “bagel boy” with the founding of Einstein Bagels, John is now matured into the “grill guy” or more aptly, the “Gridiron Griller.”
To attend, guests 21 and older can purchase the $85 Grand Grill-Off ticket for the opportunity to sample delicious signature dishes created by Miami Dolphins legends and top local chefs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The $125 VIP ticket package will include early access into the Grand Grill-Off starting at noon and the $200 LUXE ticket package provides one-hour early access, an exclusive meet-and-greet with John Offerdahl, access to the Sponsor Suite and an autographed football by JohnOfferdahl.
To find out more and to purchase tickets, visit www.gridirongrilloff.com.
For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/