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Former Minnesota Viking Turned Celebrity Chef

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A former Viking continues to re-invent himself after his football career. Esera Tuaolo is an author, singer and now a celebrity chef.

Tuaolo was a defensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings from 1992 to 1996.

“Alone in the Trenches” was published in 2007, his book about being a gay man in the NFL.

But right now he’s working on a special menu for Seven Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis.

“The youngest of eight children in a Samoan family and having to be in the kitchen, at the age of 5, helping my mom out, prepare all the meals, so I fell in love with cooking,” he said.

Tuaolo remembers growing up in Hawaii, and how popular Spam was there. So one of the items on his menu for this Friday at the downtown Minneapolis restaurant Seven is a Spam-fried sushi roll.

“I fried up some scrambled eggs, we got some long green onions that we’re gonna put in and also I made some rice in advance,” he said. “As a mold, I’m obviously using the Spam can.”

Tuaolo explained the process of his Spam recipe while mentioning his other passion — helping others.

“I have an anti-bullying program called ‘Hate in Any Form is Wrong’ and I go around the country and I speak on bullying, not only that, just basically speaking on respect for another human being,” he said.

This summer, a Seven food truck, with some Tuaolo recipes on board, should hit the streets, partly to raise money for worthy causes.

“He has a charity that he’s involved in and I have one, that’s called Love Big,” said David Koch, of Seven. “How can you have anybody better for something that’s called Love Big than this big man right here?”

The Spam sushi will be the least expensive menu item Friday at Seven. It’s $8.

For $54, you can get a 24-ounce Hawaiian Teriyaki Rib-Eye.

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