Three days hence, in a smallish apartment in Manhattan, an epic battle is going to go down on the occasion of Super Bowl XLIV. And it won't just be Colts vs. Saints, Manning vs. Brees, the Circle City vs. the Big Easy.
At this party, the big showdown is going to be Man vs. Food. Ten men -- not even enough for a proper football team -- will face off with piles of chow the likes of which are unknown in the annals of tailgating.
To complicate matters, one guy, chef Josh Capon, will be playing for both sides. He'll be eating, but he'll also be doing what he does best: cooking up a feast for people close to his heart.
"I would say nine guys, I'm averaging about 400 wings," Capon said of his game day preparations. "And it's absurd 'cause every year, it's always, 'Capon, you made too many wings!' And then at the end of the day there are no wings left. And then we go into halftime. And halftime is the big blowout usually..."
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Chef Capon's life is defined by, and filled with, food. Mainly his passion finds its outlet at Lure, the New York seafood restaurant and raw bar where he has served as executive chef for the past five years. But so great is Capon's enthusiasm for feeding folks, it seems, that he uses every extracurricular excuse -- holidays, game day, a spate of barbecue weather -- to stage a banquet.
"Starting at 2 o'clock we have what we call the pre-game, we have the pre-game warm-ups," Capon said. "You have your traditional guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips, big jumbo shrimp cocktail, stone crabs -- maybe I'll bust out a little slab of bacon like Peter Luger out in Brooklyn. You know, we just kind of call them nibbles. We just get warmed up so to speak. And then when the game starts, you know, usually we'll bring out a little something."
Love of food is not a new feature in Capon's life. Both his parents were good cooks, he said. His first job, at 14, was in a restaurant -- in fact all his jobs have been in restaurants. He left his first college, University of Maryland, after two years to enroll in cooking school at Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island. While there he was selected as a culinary "extern" at Aureole, Charlie Palmer's acclaimed Manhattan restaurant, and upon graduation in 1994 he went to work for Palmer. Prior to his current gig as Lure's chef and de facto host, party planner and public face, Capon was executive chef for three years at Manhattan's swank SoHo restaurant Canteen.
But back to game day: "And then we go into halftime," Capon continued. "We'll obviously have the [New Orleans] stuff this year, the crawfish bread, the jambalaya... [and] burgers. You know, build-your-own burger bar. Um, ribs... there's a lot of stuff going on. One thing I always make sure of, especially ever since we cut the wives out -- because there is a little bit of a guilt factor because I love all my boys and I do love all their wives, and they know I do -- I always make sure to bring some to-go containers and rule No. 1 is I pack them up and everybody goes home with a to-go bag so the wives are happy the next day and they get something to eat."