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Meet the Football Foodie, Calvin Pace

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View pictures of our football foodie in the kitchen and dining out »

This week's Man Who Cooks is ESSENCE.com's new football foodie Calvin Pace. As the NFL player travels the country, he is always sure to find a new meal and try the recipe when he's back home. He will keep us posted on his latest food discoveries and share his favorite recipes.

Name: Calvin Pace
Team: #97 NY Jets
Age: 28
Hometown: Douglasville, Georgia

When He Became a Foodie:
"It happened around 5th or 6th grade when my mother and father worked hours that had me home alone sometimes. I got tired of eating noodles and hot dogs, so I started watching cooking shows and started to try to make the food on my own. Then, in college a young lady I was dating got me to try sushi, which I was terrified to do, and I liked it! That willingness to try different foods grew to Indian food, Vietnamese and much more."

His Standout Dish:
"My favorite meal to cook is tandoori lamb. I found the recipe in a magazine and made some changes that I thought would add more flavor. I only make it on holidays, though, because it takes time to make the marinade and tend to it, so the meat is cooked correctly."

Best Dining Experience:
"My favorite meal was at Nobu in Hawaii. One of my good friends, Darnell Docket, was playing in the Pro Bowl, and he invited me and another one of our good friends, Antonio Smith, to come for the festivities. We stumbled on Nobu by word of mouth from some of the locals, and it was amazing. To be honest, everything on the menu is ridiculous in a good way, but my favorites are the tempura peppers, spicy rock shrimp, waygu beef, and sea urchin."

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Current Foodie Habits:
"Since it's the off season, I'm cooking more these days, so usually I look up different recipes online and try different things that I've never made before. I still eat out a lot too. Usually, I pick places by looking up reviews online or listening to word of mouth referrals. The only foods I won't eat are okra and coconut."

Latest Recipe Discovery:
"Recently I tried a savory waffle dish. Since the whole chicken and waffle craze is still going on, I made a waffle that was less sweet than normal and I added ingredients like paprika, onion power and thyme to give it a savory taste. Then I made a cream-based mushroom chicken topping that had cremini mushrooms, caramelized onions, thyme, and garlic in it. It got me good reviews."

What's Next In His Kitchen:
"I'm looking forward to being able to pair wines with my food. I've never been a big red or white wine fan, not because I didn't like them, but because I didn't really understand what to look for in the taste. That's something I want to get into, mainly because good restaurants have good wine lists, and I want to be able to enjoy nice wines when I go out to eat."

Try Calvin's recipe for Spiced Braised Short Ribs »

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