This article is brought to you by our delicious and talented friends at My Michelle’s catering company.
I remember when I first walked through the Grove I could not believe the plethora of various food spreads that looked fit for royalty. Mimosa fountains, multiple tiered serving trays, the most beautiful assortments of finger foods, and dips with all sorts of crackers and breads. The food in the Grove is seriously no joke y’all.
What y’all probably don’t know about me was that I was an event (and wedding) planner for 10+ years after college here in Oxford. I can honestly say I know how plan for parties, and the food too. So much so, not a month goes by I don’t get a call asking for my expertise for a friend's next gathering. So, everything your about to read come from the professional event planner Kate, turned CEO of ParentsofOleMiss.com.
If you are visiting your son/daughter and planning to have a tent of your own you may be thinking “how can we accomplish outfitting the food of our tent?” There is no need to fret because there are so many awesome and yummy options that can make your game day feast the best it can be. Whether you’re catering in or providing everything yourself, we have some helpful insights for you.
What To Serve and What NOT to Serve
Some say "too much of a good thing is a bad thing," but throw that rule out when it comes to the Grove. Make sure your tent is STOCKED with food, because if your fellow tent Grovers don’t eat it, a perfect stranger will be eye balling it.
Watching the game at your house, doesn’t usually warrant the same type of tailgating foods you’d serve in the Grove. You can thank us later for these recs:
Catering rule of thumb is if it takes more than two bites to eat, it’s too big.
Although they are pretty and add a pop of color to the assortment, leave the fruit and cheese at home. Think about it, you don’t eat that at other outdoor events, why would you serve it? The cheese hardens and sweats, the fruit turns to mush and both are a fly’s dream.
“Mayonnaise a lot of people in the Grove”. And boy does mayonnaise also serve a breeding ground for the unsanitary in the heat. So, until it cools down, leave the mayo at home. But my goodness, a tailgate without Dukes mayo? Yup. Michelle Rounsaville, with My Michelle’s Catering offers non-mayo options for the Grove like:
A Greek or Southwest layer dip (that will go further on a 12” platter because its so deep)
Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Cold Buffalo Chicken dip
Ham and Poppyseed Yeast Rolls with Dijon
Biscuit options with meats and Carolina BBQ Sauce
When the beautiful fall crisp days come, soups, ribs, or gumbos are an awesome way to have the best of all worlds.
Fried foods are a given. Chicken tenders can be ordered from My Michelle’s, Abners (now only one location), Walmart, Kroger, Big Star (Larson’s Cash Saver), Chick-fil-a, Zaxby’s and Popeyes.
My picks: Of course, I love traditional Grove foods, but if you want to shake it up a little, try some bacon wrapped breadsticks- smothered in brown sugar goodness, Pigs-n-blankets, cucumber tea sammies, brie and raspberry jelly puff pastry pinwheels, taco bags (use individual size bags of Doritos or plain tortilla chips. Guests add their own meat and toppings inside the bag and eat from it with a fork!), Black bean chorizo dip, or a Shrimp and Grits Bar - just for a few ideas!
Other reminders from this veteran:
Game times play a critical part in what to serve. 11am games warrant brunch before, and lunch after. So, be prepared for a heavy day of foods. Bruncy items: Mini Muffins, Donuts, Sausage Balls, Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, Baileys and Coffee. 2pm games, you’ll be serving lunch before and then also after game foods (and trust us, nothing like a tipsy college student and all their new BFF’s ravaging for food afterwards - just sayin’.) 6pm games: Prepare for a long day of snacking, but not near the stress in being the rushed hostess before the game. There will be no Grovin’ after the game.
The Egg Bowl this year is at long last back in Oxford ON Thanksgiving Day. It's a realistic expectation to have a turkey and fixins' with your family in the Grove. Think: fried turkey! This day is so much fun in the Grove, we can't stress it enough! (See pic of me and my mom above on Thanksgiving Day in the Grove, circa 1999.)
It’s customary to keep the tradition of the Grove on. You welcome all to your tent. So if it's a stranger passing by needing a cup or quick bite of chicken, you offer. If it’s our opponent, we welcome them to experience what the Grove is all about. It's all about hospitality, folks.
Think about how you’re getting your food there. If you don’t have permit to park on campus, prepare to drop your food off well before the Grove loop shuts down for traffic. Because once it does, your hauling A LOT of stuff from wherever your car is parked. It’s long, hot and heavy.
No open flames. Sternos are a great go to. So, no grilling, firepits or smores stations.
Did you know that many of the trees in the Grove actually have electrical sockets? How cool is that! Depending on where your tent is located, you MIGHT have power nearby.
As a reminder, UPD has the right to open (and pour out) any coolers left unattended with alcohol. Hint: Game time.
Above all, learn the alcohol policy.
Ask each taxi service you use about their ability to go on campus. Rules change for gamedays.
For all you amazing cooks out there, we tip our hats off to you for whipping up your own Grove creations. Cooking your own food is convenient if you have an Airbnb or your own condo here in town, but it’s not for everyone. If you are coming from far away, or just don’t feel like taking the time to cook, no worries! Oxford is home to some of the best catering companies in the South.
“My Michelle’s has been catering to the Grove for the past 8+ years,” says Michelle Rounsaville, owner. “I think our success can easily be attributed to the fact that we don’t offer traditional tailgating foods outside chicken tenders. We really put a smart (and healthy) spin on what you’d serve and it comes out with you being credited as the best host.”
My Michelle’s and others offer turn-key tailgating too. From the tent set-up. and providing food and alcohol and other drink options, it can all be done without you having to do a thing. Some caterers will even provide staff, if needed.
“Our client base has really grown to this option because it allows them to literally bring their purse and nothing more,” Rounsaville says. “But we only take a limited number of these each game, so we can ensure our best is always brought forth.”
You can also check out these other local options:
The Main Event Catering
Ole Miss tailgating/catering
Queensissippi catering (pick up is at the Wine Bar)
Trust us, all of these delicious options will make cheating on any sort of diet completely worth it. Even if we don’t win the game, we sure as heck win best tailgating food in the SEC. Regardless if you are hosting your own Grove tent or not, make sure you stop by and see us at the POM tent! Hotty Toddy!