What makes a perfect batch of tailgate ribs?
Chef Norm and Chef Poo, two mainstays within the Bills Mafia tailgate scene, took the long route to finding their recipe.
Before they donned their chef hats, Derrick "Norm" Norman and Richard "Poo" Peterson were high school friends and teammates on the football team.
Norman played corner back; Peterson played tight end.
And even though Peterson stands much taller today than his chef counterpart, Norman has no problem bragging that he had his days knocking Peterson around.
Peterson isn't afraid to admit it's true.
But after their days of football, Peterson left to join the military for 7 years.
After he returned, Norman joined the Buffalo Fire Department.
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Eventually, the friends would be reunited, bonding this time over a small grill before a Bills home game.
"We had about 4-5 sausages on the grill, no utensils, so we started turning them with our hands and stuff," Norman laughs. "[Peterson] says 'Norm, man I got these hats, I want you to wear it.' I'm like 'Hats? I don’t want to wear a hat, what kind of hat?' He said 'Some chef hats.' I said 'Chef hats? We're going to look silly.'”
But Norman could not have been further from the truth. Suddenly, everyone wanted their picture, and their demands for good grew rapidly.
“After that, it was on."
Chef Norm and Chef Poo were born.
Chef Norm’s name is a simple one to understand, but Chef Poo takes some explaining.
"A name I grew up with,” laughed Peterson. “I was always the biggest kid... Family members, aunts were like, 'Just a little pooh bear' or 'a big pooh bear,' and it just kind of stuck."
It’s pretty easy to tell how deep this friendship goes; their laughter is infectious, especially when they describe one of their favorite memories together at a Bills game.
"One year we made ESPN's C'Mon Man. Lee Smith caught a touchdown in our end-zone, so we're waving him over to do the 'Lambeau Leap' thing,” Peterson said, as Norman struggled to keep himself from laughing. “We lock eyes, and he's coming over, so I'm looking at Norm and I'm like, 'No dude, I had back surgery Tuesday.' I'm like, ‘Man I know I can't catch him.’ So he jumps and does the Lambeau Leap, and we part like the Red Sea, and he just falls over the wall and hits the ground.'”
Norman and Peterson have no plans on leaving the Bills tailgate scene anytime soon: they’ve been season ticket-holders for 20 years now, with no plans to let those seats go in their lifetimes.
But once their time is up, they’d love to find a few heirs to take up the chefs hats, the grills, and the recipes for their signature ribs and chicken.
They wouldn’t tell me the secret recipe for their signature meats.
But they had a name for it.
“That ‘Poo Seasoning,’” Norman laughed.
“Poo juice,” Peterson echoed.
No… I didn’t ask what’s in ‘Poo Juice.’
But come game-day, I’ll put the name aside, if it means getting a taste of those ribs.