Tips and Tricks to Tailgate Like a Pro

Score points with your tailgating crew with tips from Sam Jones BBQ co-owner and operator Michael Letchworth.

Football season is in full swing, and you know what that means… tailgates! While all you really need for a good old-fashioned tailgate is friends, food and drinks, Sam Jones BBQ co-owner and operator Michael Letchworth has some tips to take your football pre-game party next-level. 

The Menu

The No. 1 thing you’ll need to keep your crew on the offense (aka keep everyone satiated during a morning drinking sesh…) is good food. And while Bojangle’s and Chick-fil-A are solid ops, nothing beats a homemade dish. 

If you’ve ever hosted a tailgate party, you know you’ll need something equal in quantity & quality departments. Letchworth’s go-to to meet both criteria? A low-country boil. “People love it; it’s easy to prep ahead of time; and it’s super-easy to clean up,” he says.

The tailgating guru is also a huge fan of anything with cheese (who isn’t?!), especially his signature mac ’n cheese fritters (see recipe below!), which he maintains make a great appetizer or side—and we have to agree because fried mac ’n cheese = heaven. 


With all great food comes great responsibility, so accommodating plenty of prep time is crucial—esp for those noon games! 

“I would plan for an hour or so for shopping, another hour for prep and an hour for loading up,” says Letchworth. “Set up will depend on how much you plan to do but will usually take around 20 minutes.”

Planning Ahead

And preparing more food/drinks than you anticipate people will be beneficial in the long run. … As we all have that one friend who drops in at the last-minute—NTM leftovers! “I try to treat everyone as family; what’s mine is theirs,” says Letchworth.

With all that said, don’t forget to take time to sit back, relax and enjoy a cold one with your buds. “I enjoy tailgating as a reunion with people I have met over the years from the tailgate, but mostly as a reunion with old friends from college,” says Letchworth. “There’s a feeling of going back in time, and you get to relive that experience.” IYKYK—and there’s truly no better feeling in the world. 

Mac ’N Cheese Fritters


Leftover mac ’n cheese that has been cooled overnight
Housemade chicken breader (any breader will work) 


  1. Use a small cookie scoop to scoop out balls of the mac ’n cheese.
  2. Toss in buttermilk
  3. Toss in breader
  4. Fry at 350 degrees for three minutes or until golden brown

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About the Author

Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.