While the Minnesota Vikings won't be playing in the big game on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the home team will get a nod from a local restaurant that is taking its Nordic spread to the official Super Bowl Players Tailgate Party.
Northern Waters Smokehaus got the invitation to the event about two weeks ago, according to general manager Mary Tennis. It will be held in a 30,000-square-foot climate-controlled pavilion close to the stadium. It's expected to host 2,000 - Northern Waters' largest catering gig.
The menu includes its signature flavors - a smorgasbord of smoked pork loin, dry cured salami and smoked fish - in addition to regional cheeses and roasted and pickled vegetables.
It will be served on a 6-foot Douglas Fir platter, Tennis said, alongside decorative pewter and iron.
"We're going to show up for the Vikings and really do that up," Tennis said. "Our food is really northern, and we're very influenced by Nordic and Germanic culture. We're going to play that up."
The pre-game party, which starts at noon, includes hobnobbing with active NFL players and celebrities and all-you-can-eat food and drink. Charissa Thompson is emceeing the event. Minnesota-based celebrity chef Guy Fieri, who visited Northern Waters Smokehaus with his show "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," is the food headliner.
"We're going to see him again," said Tennis, who added that the smokehaus episode aired in repeat earlier this week. (They can always tell because they get a jump in mail orders.)
Northern Waters Smokehaus had originally applied to be an official vendor at a weeklong Super Bowl village - and gotten the congratulatory email. Soon after, they got the "whoops" response. They were actually alternate for a spot. Then, through a connection from "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," they got an invitation to the Tailgate party.
"For us, it's an even better situation," Tennis said. About five members of the catering staff will set up in a borrowed house, and set up shop early Sunday.
"We're stoked," Tennis said. "We're really, really excited. It's the biggest head count we've ever catered for, and we're excited about the concept of it. We can't wait to show our Vikings pride, and we're excited to be in this environment of people catering on a national level.
"Hopefully, we'll get a chance to schmooze and talk to people, see how they're showing off."