Truth be told, Kyle Rudolph’s day job isn’t focused on the finer points of congeniality or hospitality. At home, however, the Minnesota Viking enjoys switching gears, hosting family, longtime friends and teammates at the Wayzata house he shares with his wife, Jordan, and English bulldogs Bentley and Charlie.
Rudolph, a tight end with the Vikings since 2011, earned Pro Bowl MVP honors in 2012 and earned All-Rookie honors from Pro Football Weekly and National Football Post. He participates in the Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative with the Vikings and the Midwest Dairy Association, working with local schools to raise awareness about the importance of a proper diet and physical fitness. Additionally, Rudolph has volunteered with the Minnesota Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Muscle Team.
Since Rudolph must remain mentally and physically focused during practice sessions and game days, once he crosses the end zone to home, he looks forward to dialing it all back with the help of his wife. “Home is our happy place,” Jordan Rudolph says. “It’s our safe place.” She explains that, win or lose, “I love to keep home happy. I think it keeps both of us sane.”
The couple met during college—Kyle played for the University of Notre Dame, and Jordan was a student at nearby St. Mary’s College. After a five-year courtship, the Rudolphs married in February during a destination wedding in Mexico, and are expecting twin girls this month. (They fittingly announced the news this spring at a Minnesota Twins baseball game.)
While the Rudolphs’ entertainment card will be full after the babies arrive (“We already have a lot of family members planning trips to visit Wayzata,” Jordan says), they are well-versed in hosting out-of-town family and friends. For at least part of the year, the Rudolphs’ entertaining vibe centers on the gridiron. Kyle and Jordan’s immediate and extended families from Ohio and Michigan, plus hometown and college friends, are frequent visitors to the couple’s home, especially on the Vikings’ home football weekends. “We’re kind of offended when people get hotel rooms,” Kyle says with a laugh. “We want people around.”
The Rudolphs recognize and appreciate that success doesn’t arrive at the doorstep without the support of many people. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those people,” Kyle says. “Our doors are always open for guests.” With a lower level in the house that includes a spacious family room, pool table area, movie screening room (popcorn cart included), three guest bedrooms, a laundry room and a hosting kitchen, it’s easy for guests to avail themselves of relaxation and privacy while lending a helping hand. Jordan says guests often pitch in by hitting the supermarket and using the second kitchen to prepare some meals. “It’s not always work,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun.” Prior to guests’ arrival, Jordan likes to stock up on their favorites. “I’ve come to know which guests like what, and it makes it easy and everyone happy.”
“People just love to get up here and be on the lake, at the pool, play golf—just really enjoy what the summers have to offer,” Kyle says. A quick text message to the staff at T & T Boatworks marina, and his ski boat is uncovered, gassed up and prepped for action. Kyle likes to load up the 2016 Nautique G25 with a dozen or so passengers and hit Lake Minnetonka for tubing spins, cruising around the lake’s bays and open waters, and docking at Maynard’s off Excelsior Bay. “They have a phenomenal menu for the outside dining area,” he says, adding that the cheese curds top his must-have list.
“Both of our families are go-with-the-flow, so that makes it easy,” Jordan says. That’s not to say their competitive spirit doesn’t come out. Guests enjoy trading the action on the football field for board-game battles. Favorites include Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity and Quelf.
On home football weekends, the fun begins with guests attending the 10:30 a.m. Saturday walkthrough at the Vikings’ practice facility in Eden Prairie. Then it’s back to the Rudolphs’ for a casual lunch and serious college football viewing. Naturally, the Notre Dame fans get primo seating, and Irish games are viewed in the couple’s eight-seat theater room, while other games are shown on the big screen in the adjoining football-themed family room. After Kyle departs for the team’s hotel for the Saturday-night stay, Jordan picks up the entertaining ball and prepares easy home meals, which might include her Italian great-grandmother’s secret pasta sauce and meatball recipe. She also enjoys taking guests to local dining spots, including CoV Wayzata, where Jordan appreciates the atmosphere and the menu’s variety. “Somehow, guests can always find something that is their favorite,” she says, making special note of CoV’s steamed edamame with sake soy broth, togarashi chili flakes and sea salt, and wood-fired chicken wings, which are lightly smoked and served with blue cheese dressing.
It’s not unusual to find a few Vikings teammates and their families visiting for cookouts, too, celebrating Thanksgiving or watching each other’s college football teams go head to head. The post-dinner hour might include relaxing in the Rudolphs’ entertainment-friendly backyard, on chaise lounges around the pool, near the outdoor bar area, which features large windows that open into the lower-level kitchen, or near the stone fireplace.
Regardless of who’s gathering for football weekends, holidays with family or lazy days on the lake, the Rudolphs clearly balance a high-profile life with low-key downtime. “We want people to feel comfortable,” Kyle says.
“We’ve made Minnesota home, and having the people we love the most visit makes it feel more like home,” Jordan says.
Recipes from the Rudolphs
While Kyle and Jordan Rudolph are expecting a few more “guests” for future dinners, it might be some time before their twin girls will be able to enjoy some of Jordan’s go-to recipes. When friends and family visit the Rudolphs’ Wayzata home, hearty appetizers and grilled entrées fit the bill.
All recipes courtesy of Jordan Rudolph.
Raspberry Limoncello Prosecco
- 3 cups Prosecco, chilled
- 1 cup limoncello liqueur, chilled
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
- 6 sprigs fresh mint
In a large pitcher, whisk together Prosecco and limoncello. Evenly pour mixture into glasses with 3-5 frozen raspberries and garnish with mint if desired.
- 2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 dash of garlic salt
- 2 Tbsp. green onion or parsley, chopped
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Pour mixture into a 1½-quart casserole dish and bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until slightly browned and bubbly. Serve the hot dip with crackers or in a sourdough bread bowl with bread cubes for dipping.
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 2 large carrots, sliced
- 2 eggs
- 1 jalapeño, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 handful of dried oatmeal
- 1 pinch each of salt and pepper
Use a cheese grater to grate up the zucchini and the carrots to make them nice and thin. Mix all the ingredients together, form in patties and cook until done.