Wayne Kostroski Goes All In For A Good Cause

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Taste of the NFL founder says event would have proceeded with or without Super Bowl.

Wayne Kostroski uses an inspirational epigram to begin each chapter in his just-published memoir of his founding of the Taste of the NFL and its dynamo evolution. None so piercingly speaks to who he is than one by mystery writer Martha Grimes.

In introducing Chapter 7 of “Bring Out The Best,” Kostroski quotes Grimes: “We don’t know who we are until we see what we can do.”

That in a nutshell says it all about Kostroski, a man who time and time again tackles the seemingly insurmountable and uses goodwill and professional camaraderie to fight hunger.

Wayne Kostroski and his James Beard Humanitarian of the Year (2010) Award

Kostroski’s boundless humanitarianism in the face of awesome odds has been driven by the fear of letting others down, especially food banks, hunger-relief groups and nutritional awareness nonprofits that have seen their donations nosedive in recent years.

Take the work stoppage and player lockout threat that might have killed the 2011 professional football season, and by extension, the Super Bowl; or more to the point, Kostroski’s masterstroke of good will, the Taste of the NFL (TNFL).

If the most hellish acts of man and nature have not stopped Kostroski and his die-hard volunteer celebrities and big-hearted lesser-knowns in the past, why should anyone have suspected that a mere labor dispute between billionaire team owners and millionaire football players would have?

Fueled by the same show business mantra that “the show must go on,” Kostroski was moving full speed ahead in pulling off the 21st annual TNFL, even when the season was in doubt.

At press time, the NFL owners and player representatives from the 32 teams agreed to end the four-month lockout and sign a new collective bargaining agreement, calling for practice to begin and most camps to open as early as the end of July. Although ultimate ratification depends on a majority vote by all of the players, the vote is nothing more than a formality, according to NFL sources.

He’s done it before when naysayers or current events cast doubt on his ability to bring hundreds of his most celebrated chefs and restaurant friends from the National Football League’s 32 team cities (even some with no NFL teams), football players with cooking skills or big appetites, volunteer restaurant workers and lay people, all of whom travel on their own dime to the Super Bowl host city to work for free in staging one of the most lavish, widely supported and beloved hunger relief fundraisers in the nation.

Lest anyone doubt Kostroski’s resolve, consider that in spite of the hysteria and intrusive airport security procedures that made flying a grueling and nail-biting chore in the months after Sept. 11, 2001, the TNFL in Super Bowl host city New Orleans that season was among the series’ most emotional and memorable.


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