Why the Exec Chef of Bon Appétit is our Favorite Cheesehead

Plus, she makes a mean Bloody Mary

Mary in the very fancy Bon Appétit kitchen.

Yes, Mary Nolan is the Executive Chef of Bon Appétit. A graduate of The Institute of Culinary Education. She has cooked in restaurant kitchens in both NYC and Philly. Yes, Mary also has a degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, making her a Cheesehead at heart. (Mmmmm, cheese.)

But there’s just something about Mary — aside from her incredible tailgating talents (see recipe below for Mary’s Bloody Marys)— because she is up for any sporting event, any time. Her roots are in college sports, but you can find her at a variety of stadiums, arenas, ballparks, and you better just order what she’s getting, because the girl has clearly got great taste.

She grew up in Davenport, Iowa, and spent a great deal of time playing softball — later in life, she discovered a passion for dodgeball and anything competitive. Most recently, she was crowned “Most Athletic Sister,” when on her annual family vacation in Wisconsin, she was the only sister who dared to jump off a 25-foot cliff into Lake Michigan.

You can follow her on Instagram @chefmarynolan, but first — find out why she’s our Favorite Fan of the Week …

  1. FIRST SPORTS MEMORY: My poor ol’ dad of three girls was always looking for someone to join him at Hawkeyes football games. I would occasionally oblige and freeze my buns off at Kinnick Stadium. Football is still not my sport of choice. I’m more a baseball gal…all those years of playing softball!
  2. FAVORITE SPORTS TRADITION WITH FRIENDS/FAM: Despite said football lack of enthusiasm, the annual Badgers (my alma mater)/Hawkeyes game is still a favorite. I’m sitting in a red shirt in a sea of gold family members.
  3. FAVORITE SPORTS MOMENT EVER: I don’t have a very good memory, so I’ll go with the most recent! I went to a March Madness game this year and Iowa beat Temple in overtime. It was an awesome game!
No beer here!? That must be why they call it March Madness.

4. SPORTS FIGURE (LIVING OR DEAD) THAT YOU WOULD NAME YOUR KID/PET AFTER: Since I’d have to go halfsies with my husband on that decision, it would probably be something along the lines of Bart or Sterling since he is a HUGE Packer Backer. And I’ve become one by proxy.

5. FINALLY, HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR HOT DOG!? I love a Chicago-style dog, fully loaded, when I can get my hands on one. In a pinch, ketchup and mustard…onions if they’re available! Oh, and a beer in hand. That was the biggest disappointment at that March Madness game. NO BEER IN THE HOUSE!

EXTRA CREDIT: What is your walk-up song?!?! “Mo Money, Mo Problems!”

Image via Flickr: Ines Hegedus-Garcia

FFOTW BONUS ROUND: Mary’s Bloody Marys

Serves 8–10

Love a namesake recipe, albeit a creepy one. No one judges day-drinking when it contains tomato juice for some reason. This recipe is adapted from a good family friend’s recipe. He always serves these before Hawkeye football games. And he still lets me have one — even when I’m cheering for the Badgers!

2 (32-oz) bottles Clamato Tomato Cocktail (yes, it matters…this stuff is a little sweet so I think it’s the perfect foil to all the salty add-ins)

20 oz (2 1/2 cups) vodka

1/4 cup prepared horseradish

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

2 teaspoons hot sauce, like Tabasco

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

Garnish suggestions: olives, pickled anything, celery, cooked bacon strips, beef jerky, lemon and/or limes wedges

Mix all ingredients except garnish and chill until game day. Shake well and serve over ice with desired accoutrements.

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