or the big game, think small. That’s how caterer Lisa Epstein calls the plays
when creating a themed Super Bowl party.
“Super Bowl is all about grazing,” Epstein says. “It’s about snacking,
drinking beer and watching the game.” To that end, Epstein, who owns Encore Catering in East Hanover with her sister Karen, draws from a comfort-food playbook that she organized into individual servings. No plates needed.
We asked Epstein to cater the ultimate game-day bash in the perfect setting: a memorabilia-filled man cave just completed for a Denville sports fan
extraordinaire. “I grew up a huge Jets fan,” says homeowner Gary, 51, who
works in money management. “My dad has had season tickets since the mid-
1960s. We used to trek out to Shea Stadium—my dad and two brothers—to
see the games.”
When Gary met wife MaryLee in 1987, “she was not a big sports fan, but
quickly adopted sports as a love once she fell in love with me,” he says. “She
became a Jets fan, and our kids have grown up as Jets fans.”
This year, as in the recent past, the couple will host 40 or 50 guests for the
Super Bowl, being played for the first time in New Jersey. “We have all ages,
from 9 years old to my father, who is 84,” Gary says.
Rivaling the on-screen action is the menu, with its own goal posts in
sight. Epstein, along with her sous chefs, Stefanie Haim and Robert Szklany,
conceived a mock football field surrounded by stands filled with hearty bite-sized fare and potables. We liked the idea so much, we agreed it deserved a
mid-season test run.
On game day, Epstein rolled out an all-American lineup of winter favor-
ites, including lasagna, sliders, french fries, short ribs with mac and cheese,
chili and buffalo chicken lollipops. “These are good one-biters,” she says.
“There’s nothing to it.”
Each item was prepared in advance, heated and divvied up into single
FRIEND ZONE: Caterer
Lisa Epstein designed this
wheat-grass faux football
field, which presents
an array of bite-sized,
easy-to-create snacks and
drinks. Gary’s collection
of mini-helmets forms a
color guard. Top left, fans
root. Top right, sliders
with bacon and caramelized onions. Above, Jets
superfans Gary and wife
GO GREEN: Clearly a Jets
fan, the homeowner adorned
his man cave, above, with
football memorabilia. Many a
poker game is played on the
green felt of the card table.