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Domer Dishes: Inside the Lives and Kitchens of Your Fighting Irish Gridiron Greats

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A Notre Dame Football Cookbook!

My friends and I were tailgating before the Notre Dame spring game (the Blue & Gold Game) in 2017 when I was approached with the idea of writing a Notre Dame football cookbook. I had just published my second book the previous fall (The Men We Became: More Echoes From the End Zone, which was a follow up to my first book, Echoes From the End Zone: The Men We Became) and was looking for my next writing opportunity. I had a few projects in mind, one of which I was seventy pages into, but had kind of stalled on it, when Lee Becton approached me with his idea.

“What do you think about writing a Notre Dame football cookbook that contains the favorite recipes of a bunch of Notre Dame football players, combined with a little story-telling?” I laughed almost immediately. If you know me, you know I am not a cook. Yes, I cooked for my family as the kids were growing up and managed to not permanently damage anyone, but there are plenty of stories of cooking mishaps that I’ve been a part of over the years (including burning noodles, which I will never live down). Family rarely allowed me to cook for holiday dinners. When my parents and grandparents passed the holiday cooking torch to our generation, it didn’t get passed to me; it got passed to my husband.

Lee ignored my laughter and told me to think about it. There hadn’t been a Notre Dame football cookbook written since the mid-1990s. The gap needed to be filled, and he thought I was just the person to do it. I filed the ask in the back of my brain and decided to move forward on a new project, which was my third book, Triumphs From Notre Dame: Echoes of Her Loyal Sons & Daughters.” But even as I worked on my third book, every time I ran into Lee, he’d ask, “So have you thought anymore about my idea?” Of course, I had thought about it, and I truly thought it wasn’t the right project for me. But after the 2019 football season ended and my book tour wrapped up, I started to seriously consider writing the cookbook.

In January of 2020, I ran the idea by some of my close ND football friends. Everyone’s answer was a resounding “Yes! Please, write this cookbook.” And so in January of 2020, I started sending out requests for recipes and stories—having no idea what the rest of 2020 would have in store for us. What I thought would be a fun project hit some bumps in the road as we headed into a pandemic in March of 2020, one of which was to deal with some pretty major issues with our family business (a zoo in Branson, Missouri) due to shut downs, significant decreases in tourism, and social unrest that crippled the nation.

After taking some time off to pitch in with the family business, I threw myself back into the recipe-collecting. I figured it would be a positive distraction for all of us, and what could be better than trying out new recipes (with my husband’s cooking help, of course).

The road has been winding since I first embarked upon this journey in January of 2020: I’ve met some new people, rekindled some old friendships, learned A LOT about cooking and photography, and have had a lot of fun trying a wide variety of foods and recipes.

What is Domer Dishes you ask?

What is Domer Dishes you ask? It’s a hybrid of recipes and storytelling. Each ND “chef” in the cookbook has submitted his favorite recipe. Some of them have included a story about why it’s their favorite recipe or who/where it came from. Some have shared their most unforgettable Notre Dame memories. All have shared a little bit of themselves by sharing their best-loved recipes. The cookbook consists of recipes from former Notre Dame football players, coaches, leprechauns, and student managers. And, of course, you’ll get one recipe from me. I may not be a very good cook, but there are a couple of things that I do cook well.

This is not a fancy cookbook. I took many of the photos myself as we cooked all the dishes (my husband and I cooked most of them, and my chef friend, James Ketara, helped as well). I hope you enjoy the food and the storytelling that I share in this book. I’d love to know which recipes from the cookbook are your favorite! Please share them with me on Instagram and Twitter by tagging your photos with the hashtag “#DomerDishes.”

Cheers! And GO IRISH!

Lisa Kelly
University of Notre Dame du Lac ‘93

(P.S. Want to get your hands on a cookbook from the first run? You can pre-order your copy today at www.EchoesFromNotreDameBooks.com. All books will be personally signed by me and will receive free shipping. Cookbooks should ship in October!)

Here is a look at what’s in the cookbook (and you can see more at www.instagram.com/domerdishes):