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Interview: football commentator and Food Network host Jesse Palmer

The ESPN personality dishes on espresso, Ottawa and the vampires of New Orleans

Jesse Palmer

Home Base New York and Montreal
Hometown Ottawa
Claim to Fame Played five seasons in the NFL; looked for love (and didn't find it) on season five of The Bachelor; guest hosted on Live with Kelly
Current Project Hosting ESPN's college football show and Food Truck Face Off on the Food Network
Travel Essential "Snack time is important to me, so I always have Quest Bars. And caramel and dark chocolate."
Next Vacation "I'm itching to go to Brazil."

You grew up in Ottawa. Where are your favourite spots?
My friends and I always hang out at Rockwell's on Merivale Road. And my buddy just opened a spot called Evoo on Preston Street, which is a great Greek restaurant in the heart of a really cool Italian community.

What's the best sports city you've been to?
I covered the Super Bowl in New Orleans in 2013, and it's got a completely different vibe than anywhere else in the United States – you almost feel like you're in an Anne Rice novel, with vampires creeping around all the iron gates and old homes. Plus I'm a huge foodie, and Galatoire's makes the best oysters Rockefeller in the world.

Do you get to explore the cities you're working in?
No! We're confined to the hotel, especially as an athlete. You get in the night before the game, the next day you play, and you go right from the stadium to the plane to fly home. That's why I like to go back and visit.

Where was your last great vacation?
I went to France with my dad last year. Paris is my favourite city – I've been six times – but I'd never seen the country. We rented a car and drove through the Loire Valley and saw castles, and down to Bordeaux for some wine tasting. We had an unbelievable two days in Saint-Émilion, and then we drove down to the Riviera, up to Lyon, and back through Burgundy to Paris.

Do you have a favourite souvenir?
I know it sounds weird, but I'm a bit of a kleptomaniac when it comes to espresso cups. Some hotels have espresso makers in the room and cool, artsy cups, which I've taken on occasion. Maybe we should say I bought them from the hotel…



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