By: Michael Brittingham
Clubs are starting up again, but this year one club has been ahead of the pack: Barbecue Club. Barbecue Club started on September 3rd with a cookout for back-to-back soccer and volleyball home games. Since then, they climbed out of a $1200 debt in two other cookouts at It’s Academic and a Saturday home football game. The club has developed into one of the most profitable and valuable clubs at Gilman.
One thing people may not know is that the Barbecue Club outlasts “Dan the Man the Barbecue Man.” The Barbecue Club has been around since the early 2000s, though it has not always been called the Barbecue Club. In its earliest state, the Barbecue Club was the Culinary Club. The founder and president of the Culinary Club was then-Gilman student and current Middle School history teacher Mr. Chris Bendann (‘03). Mr. Bendann’s purpose for starting the club was, “to share our love of food and cooking. We wanted to get other kids interested in experimenting in the kitchen and thinking about different styles and preparations of foods.” They would meet in the old middle school cafeteria and prepare everything from fried chicken to cheesecake. The club focused more on preparing and enjoying the food; eating the food was a privilege only for club members. Mr. Bendann’s passion for cooking, preparing, and eating food developed into a club that would leave its mark on Gilman.
After Mr. Bendann graduated, the Culinary Club evolved into Barbecue Club, taking on a new name with new goals. The new club continued for two more years before it ran out of steam and closed down in 2003. Gilman went without a food-based club for a decade until Dan DeSmit (‘16) revived the Barbecue Club. The program was reinvigorated under his leadership. Dan was the man behind the grill serving up delicious meats for reasonable prices at all the big sporting events and school-wide gatherings.
The club grew until the grills were no longer enough to meet the student body’s demands. Consequently, the club invested in a $6000 smoker that would increase their output, quality, and variety. The school paid for the smoker up front, and the club paid the school back over the course of a little more than a year’s worth of cookouts. The final payment was made on September 16th when the football team played at home against Good Counsel. That means that in a year and two cookouts, the Barbecue Club grossed $6000.
Now that the club is out of debt, Barbecue Club Vice President Quinn Beagle (‘19) illustrates possible new ideas: “Later in the year and in coming years we hope to do grade-sponsored cookouts where a class will pay for the food and provide the people to run the stand… Other plans include charity cookouts and other fundraisers.” With this newfound money, the club will invest in a more diverse selection of food to cook.