ESPN sportscaster and cooking expert, Rich Hollenberg joined me recently to share his secrets to throwing a great March Madness party that you and your guests will love!
ESPN sportscaster & Cooking expert, Rich Hollenberg. Image courtesy of RichHollenberg.com
Candace Rose: What is the secret to throwing a great party for March Madness?
Rich Hollenberg: "Well, Candace, it all comes down to two words really- it's technology and it's taste. We'll start with technology because you want to have a great TV to watch any or all of the games during March Madness. So you have an LG high definition 47 inch TV, that will do the trick for you; but it's where you get the TV that's really important. If you go to Best Buy, they have what's called the perfect match promise. That's what gets you 30 days of free phone support; 30 days of easy returns with no restocking fees and you also get 30 days to compare prices so you know you're getting the absolute best price. But even more importantly, Candace, it gives you that guarantee that you're going to have the right technology to fit your lifestyle.
Now when you can't be home and watch the games all the time, you still want to be in touch, so you have a smartphone. Well the BlackBerry smartphone has a couple of apps that will suit you just fine. The first is called the CBS sports app, and what it does is it gives you access to all the major headlines of every sport including college basketball. You can keep track of the brackets that you might have filled out, your favorite teams, so on and so forth.
And then there's something called ScoreMobile app for BlackBerry, and that app is actually BlackBerry messenger enabled, so you can chat with your friends who are also BlackBerry smartphone users, even while you're in that app. It's a really great way to keep in touch and keep up to date with all the scores."
Candace Rose: Do you have any suggestions when it comes to meal planning?
Rich Hollenberg: "Absolutely. I'm a real traditionalist when it comes to sports parties like this, whether it's a football game or what we're talking about- March Madness. I like to serve what I call tailgate favorites, and mine is Johnsonville Original Brats; lots of great ways to fix them up and make them any way you like, but they're hearty, they're flavorful. I make what's called 'the super party brat hoagie' where you just slice up the brats nice and thin, you can layer them on top with peppers and onions, and if you go to Johnsonville.com you can find a number of different recipes including that one, and some really great ideas on how to take one ingredient or one food like these Johnsonville brats and make a lot of different creations so everyone at the party goes home happy."
Candace Rose: And how about drinks and snacks?
Rich Hollenberg: "It's up to the host to serve what types of drinks you want. You can serve any number of things, but what do you serve them in? Well, now for this type of party you can go to 7-Eleven and Big Gulp has what are called collectors cups- they're called Miracle Match-Ups, and there are four of them. If you get all four you can get a bunch and give them away as party favors at the end of the party, but while you're drinking out of them you could relive some really great college basketball tournament memories on each individual cup.
And here's what's cool, you'll love this Candace. Going back to technology, they have what's called the QR code on the side of every cup, and when you scan that that QR code with a smartphone it'll take you to a microsite that gives you online video content that's exclusive. You can't get it anywhere else. It's a really great way to kind of relive some of your memories from the tournament and that's all compliments of Powerade."
Candace Rose: Oh that's awesome. How about when it comes to decor?
Rich Hollenberg: "Well, you know what's funny? With this type of party there's something called brackets and you can print them out from any place- from the newspapers, from the internet. And when you fill out your brackets they're usually about the size of a placemat, so what I would recommend doing for something fun is print out a whole bunch of them with however many people are going to be at your party, and you can fill them out accordingly depending on when you're throwing out that party, and then have your guests fill out the rest of them. Maybe someone wins a prize at the end of the party?"
Candace Rose: How about for fans who aren't sports fans, how can we create a place they can socialize and enjoy themselves?
Rich Hollenberg: "Well, believe me, Candace if they're not sports fans they'll like the idea of filling out the brackets and you don't even really need to know a lot about the teams. There's always going to be some Cinderella team that sneaks up and surprises even experts like myself, so you fill out the teams based on what their uniforms are like or the players names- that kind of gets people involved because you don't feel like you have to know too much about who is playing or what the games are."
Candace Rose: I'd probably have better luck that way!
Rich Hollenberg: "A lot of us might!"
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you'd like to share?
Rich Hollenberg: "Just have fun and whenever you're hosting a party, especially when it's a sports party, you want to be as much of a party as the host or hostess, as everybody who you've invited. So I think all the ideas that I brought you, Candace, are going to enable you to get the technology that you really love and you look for, and also a lot of taste so you'll be happy with the party and all your guests will too."
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
Rich Hollenberg: "Every one of these companies has their own website as you can imagine. For the recipes, for where to buy these different things and usually they're really accessible and easy to find."