By Marise Redmann
(Originally published in 2023 Door County Go! Guide)
A life well-lived is even better when it involves great food. For couples, it can also be a shared bond. Gabrielle and AJ Dillon, for instance, who share both a life and a love of great food.
Gabrielle is a photographer and political science journalist, and AJ is the well-known running back with the Green Bay Packers. Newly married and expecting their first child, the attractive couple spent AJ’s birthday at Sturgeon Bay’s Drömhus restaurant and event space this past March, greeting representatives of the dozen restaurants they had chosen for a cover photo shoot for the Go! Guide’s sister publication, the Door County Dining Guide.
The photo shoot came about because of the impromptu Door County promotion the couple has been sharing on their Instagram account, “Dining with the Dillons,” about the local restaurants they love. “We are absolute foodies,” Gabrielle said. “We love trying new food, actively scout out the best spots for different cuisines, and we have experience food tasting all over the world.”
Door County is their main focus, as Gabrielle spent her youth visiting and working here. “When I met AJ in 2020, during a time where outdoor activities had quite an appeal, I decided to show him beautiful Door County,” she said. “Needless to say, ever since we’ve been traveling up to the county and enjoying everything it has to offer.”
The couple visited local restaurants, shook hands with bar owners, took photos with fans, and then posted their experiences on Instagram. Soon, it became a media sensation that AJ was spending so much time on the Peninsula. In fact, he playfully touted in sports interviews that he hoped to be presented with a key to the county, a tongue-in-cheek wish granted in 2021 by Destination Door County CEO Julie Gilbert.
So why do the Dillons go out of their way to devote so much time to this endeavor? “It’s to share with the community our love of food and promote the special Ma-Pa places we enjoy,” AJ said. “And let our friends know where to eat when visiting.”
Their passion for food extends into their philanthropy, and they partner with Feeding America Wisconsin to help support food-insecure youth. “We wanted to give back to the community through a purposeful, deliberate plan to help children,” AJ said.