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A Charitable Military BBQ Cooking Event
Twentynine Palms Marine Base
Coordinated and managed by
 Del King and Grant & Jeni Ford

Supported by BBQ Enthusiasts, many Volunteers, and CBBQA membership


Pictures below taken by Rick Streiff and Dan Cannon

The street all the equipment was parked on Sue, Hanna, and David Baral.  Rick Streiff's sister, niece, and brother-in-law helped wherever and however to make the weekend a great success

My Ole Hickory & Klose Off-Set
Rick pulled the Klose, I pulled the Ole Hickory

A line of warming pits provided by many BBQ volunteer types


  I am loading up the Klose with briskets.  It can hold twice the amount of the Ole Hickory.   
Randy Gille and myself.  Randy also had his son out helping.  Randy has a great new pit as well that he just completed Randy and Bentley


Bentley and Kristen Meredith also kept their Traeger pit pumping meat!

Del King working with the Ole Hickory

Mike Guinaugh and Bill Wight working on briskets

Another Ole Hickory filled with Butts.  This is a sales demo unit provided by Robert Mackey

Kent, Brent's brother, loading the QN4U pit Bill Wight and others prepping the meats      Rick Streiff doing the "chop-chop" with our Buffalo Chopper on the briskets.
Smokin' John bringing his great experience to bear helping to setup and configure the food distribution lines
This stage was put up in just hours and taken down immediately after the show
The menu of the meal being served.  They left off all the Beef Ribs
    A couple of MP's that came by our campsite  later Saturday night

A self-perspective article written by Dan Cannon from the viewpoint of a participant and cooking team


As usual the adrenalin was flowing and all was going well on this trip out to Twentynine Palms Marine Base. We felt we had everything packed and ready for a VERY busy weekend of meat cooking and preparation. We also knew we had a big job of setting up equipment, prepping, cooking, and preparing the finished meats for serving to the Marines and their families. The base had projected a 15,000 plate requirement so it was going to take a lot of planning and people to make this happen. Our team was just one of many teams, volunteers, participants, and sponsors that was helping to make this event a success.   Del notified us the day after we got back the base went through 22,000 plates and that 13,000 pounds of meat was cooked!
Del King, Grant, and Jeni Ford were the primary coordinators and contacts from the Military interface (Del) and CBBQA  (Grant) side of things. And let it be known that Grant and Jeni Ford NEVER stopped for a minute the whole weekend.  They and Del did a fantastic job.  Del has been working on this event well prior to last December that I know of.  That is when he asked if I could attend.    Congratulations on all the hard work and a job so well done to those mentioned above and to all that attended! 

Prior to the event Del indicated he needed more pit space for the thousands of pounds of meats that had to be cooked so I chose to take both my trailered BBQ units out. Rick Streiff took the Klose unit out and I took the Ole Hickory. Rick and I had everything loaded and enroute by 15:00 Friday. The base is about 160 miles of desert two lane driving with a lot of dog-leg turns through small and large cities. And, as usual the traffic lights and traffic we encountered while taking the back routes through Little Rock, Hesperia, Apple Valley, Yucca Valley, and Joshua Tree to reach Twentynine Palms  had lots of delays. Anyway, everything worked out great and we arrived at roughly 18:30.
We got the cooking pits located, got the fires going, and had meat in both cookers by 20:00. There were already many other pits cooking product on site as folks had started to arrive by noon.  I believe that all the butts had been put on earlier in the day and that the briskets were looking for a pit to call home in the evening.

I was assigned to cook briskets which started arriving by the bucket full. They had been unwrapped and seasoned by many volunteers and were ready to just put in the pit. However, these happened to be some VERY large briskets. Where I might normally put 45 full briskets in my Ole Hickory and twice that in my Klose I ended up doing less in numbers of brisket but probably the same weight. I estimate that I put 450 pounds of brisket in the Ole Hickory and 950 in the Klose. If you do the typical meat serving math on that you can see it will feed a lot of folks. FYI, the serving math is:
- Divide the weight of meat by 1/2 for trimming and cooking
- Figure each person consumes 1/4 pound of cooked meat
- So, for the briskets we cooked the following might apply:
950 + 450 pounds = 1400 pounds
1400 / 2 = 700 pounds of edible meat
700 /  1/4 pound = 2800 4 ounce portions
The brisket came off the next morning and immediately went down for processing.   That meant that it was run, one pass only, through a Buffalo Chopper to serve. In the quantities we are talking about automation and machinery is very helpful to get the job done quickly. I did bring my Buffalo Chopper and Rick Streiff personally ran all our Briskets through the unit in a 3-4 hour period. Good job Rick! That is a lot of meat handling and chopping at 100+ degrees outside temperature. Especially when the meat is so hot you can't handle it.
Again, there were many folks like us doing the cooking and food preparation. We were just another small cog in the wheel of the entire event process. The people that worked hard and diligently both before and during the event were Del, Grant, and Jeni!
Early the next morning Jim Sheridan did his usual GREAT job on providing a great sausage, egg, and potato breakfast. In fact it was so good that I had a second breakfast and felt disabled. There was too much work and heat to be so bloated. Maybe next time I will learn my lesson.  It was worse than a hang-over!
After breakfast the base Marine Officer orientation staff put on a PowerPoint presentation of what the Twentynine Palms Marine does, why it is there, why it does it job so well, and how our great country benefits so much from the hard work they do there. Topics covered ranged from the size of the base, what is accomplished there, why the base is so perfect for what it does, and how the training provided benefits to not only all our Marines but also other Military personnel from different services and countries. That was a great orientation and lasted about an hour.
I mentioned above that we cooked roughly 1400 pounds of Brisket in both my Ole Hickory and Klose Off-set but did not mention the subsequent full-load cooking activities. After breakfast and unloading all of the Brisket we did the following:
- 75 racks of Spare Ribs into the Ole Hickory Took about 5 hours to cook. Then Rick, Karen, I, Dave & Sue (Rick's sister and Brother-in-law)  removed, sauced, sliced, and presented to the pits used as warmers till requested and served.
- 80-100 racks of Beef Ribs into the Klose. Took about 4 hours also and all folks mentioned above did the same thing again.
- 160 lbs of chicken was placed into the Ole Hickory. Two hours later it was removed, panned, and given to the warming pits.
- After the above 160 lbs of chicken was completed another 160 lbs was put in the Ole Hickory for another couple of hours.
That it a lot of meat to cook! The last load of chicken went into the pit about 17:00  Saturday and was removed and panned at 19:00. So, as you can sense, there was a lot of cooking going on overall till late on departure date. Del provided what appeared to be 50 gallon barrels for grease to place in as the pits rendered the meats. Our barrel was 3/4 full when we left the next morning.
Also, all the folks cooking on many pits were also delivering and cooking at the same pace we were. So, the latter cooked meats were being delivered right from the smoking pits to the serving lines and immediately put on folks plates. What a great product our great Marines were provided with!
Having done something very similar to this in September of 2003 for just about as many people, I had an idea what to expect and was not disappointed. The serving time commenced at roughly 16:00 +/- and proceeded through till roughly 21:30 - 22:00. Our own Smokin' John Burke was involved with providing his skill and knowledge in assisting with the setup and management of the serving lines. Of course there were MANY volunteers and participants involved in serving and providing the product to the folks. I am guessing there were roughly 8-10 serving lines, each manned by 8-12 servers. You can look at the above pictures and get an idea for yourself.
While the folks were eating and relaxing there were multiple award ceremonies and entertainment activities going on. There was equipment for the kids to play on, snow cones dispensers, beer being sold, and various forms of entertainment happening. The night closed with the Country singer Dierks Bentley putting on a great show.
Of course there was a lot of clean-up, packing, putting things away, and whatever that had to immediately be done. However, after doing that much work the teams and participants also want to hang out and have a nice beverage while reminiscing how the days successes and events transpired. Many packed up and left pretty much right away and many stayed over night.  I, Bill Wight, Rick and Karen, Brent and Kim, Pete and Pam, Jimj Sheridan, and some others hung around and relaxed till roughly midnight. We watched the amazing activities of the Marines and civilians disassembling most of the stage equipment, all the serving tents, tables, and furniture right after the event was over. This included much clean up and policing of the area. By the time most left to go to bed at the provided hotel the place was almost back to normal with few signs of what had transpired. Of course all the reaming cooking pits were still on site but otherwise it is amazing how a military installation transforms itself very quickly from one format to another.
I got up about 06:30 and and was the first to start the morning packing process as nobody had arrived yet. I slept in my van both nights at the cooking site.  Just shortly afterwards Grant and Jeni, Bill Wight, and a few others arrived to start the packing and cleanup of our individual work areas and the street overall.
By 08:30 I was packed up ready to leave. Bill Wight had already left. Grant and Jeni were completing their packing. Rick and Karen arrived about then, we hooked up the Klose, and were off the base by 09:00 refueling. Rick and Karen pulled the Klose with his truck.  I pulled the Ole Hickory with my van.  I won't mention the blow-out on the way home as that is another story.
Anyway, the weekend was a great success from my small perspective. I at least saw lots of Marines eating and GREATLY enjoying BBQ and what else do we have to judge it from. Everyone worked very hard and everybody's contributions and efforts seemed to have made for a totally successful dinner for the Marines and their families.

Again, I want to thank the real stars of this event.  That is Del King and Grant and Jeni Ford.  They are the folks that made all the calls soliciting corporate contributions, volunteer cookers and pits, volunteer meat preparation folks and pullers, and handled all the politics of trying to coordinate an event on such a large scale via email and phone.  Great job again everybody and I can't believe how much work so many did.   It was an honor to be a small part of such a great event.
Dan Cannon




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