Grill n’ Chill: Insights from One of the Fastest Growing Clubs on Campus

Richie Rosen, Staff Writer

There is a connection between humans and a good BBQ that is almost meant to be. Maybe it’s the experience: relaxing in a camping chair and watching the smoke rise from the air vents while you sip on a beverage and enjoy good conversation with friends. Maybe it’s the smoky and delicious smell of the roast itself — irreplaceable by anything conjured up on a stovetop or in an oven. Maybe it’s the sounds: the popping charcoal and the crackle of a good sear. 

Grilling is special, and the members of the recently established Colgate Grilling Club know it. And, lucky for us, they have brought the magic of the communal grilling experience onto campus. Two of Grill Club’s most seasoned (boom!) members, sophomore Vivi Bartels and junior Thomas Cernosia, provided us with a look into the goings-on of the club and their experiences within it. 

For Bartels, her decision to join Grill Club arose from a series of mutual connections between her and the club. 

“My boyfriend is the treasurer of Grill Club. Basically, I went to the first meeting and I met a lot of friends from other interest [groups]. I [knew] some friends running the club too,” Bartels explained. 

Cernosia is one of the three founding members of the club. He’s watched it grow since its humble beginnings which were sparked by a shared interest in grilling between like-minded friends. 

“Sophomore year, I was living in 110 Broad. I had a single, but Grey [Dowd] and Peter [Marks] were down the hall — they are two of the other [current Grill Club] presidents. We hated going up the hill for food, and we were like, ‘oh let’s get a grill.’ So we bought a dinky, twenty-dollar grill from Parry’s and that thing was awful; it didn’t work too well,” Cernosia said. “And then one of us, I don’t remember who, was like ‘oh, let’s turn this into a club, let’s get funding for it.’ We didn’t get funding our first year, so we had to self-fund, and it’s been like that ever since.” 

If it hasn’t already, the leaders are sure that funding will surely come soon. The club itself is a fairly new presence on campus, having only been meeting for about a year. The fact that the club has grown to the extent it has in such a relatively short time is a testament to its appeal en masse. This is thanks, in no small part, to a lineup of some of the tastiest, charcoal-fired specialties around.

“The pulled pork is really, really good. It’s amazing. They do it over multiple days, so it’s roasting for a while. I also like the grilled chicken they make,” Bartels said. 

Being in Grill Club has been somewhat of an education for Bartels. She explained how her being in the club improved her overall knowledge of all things grilling, and how it has led to her developing distinct preferences when it comes to her preferred seasonings.

“[I’ve learned] about what goes into the grill, not necessarily food, but in terms of the process of grilling itself. We have a specific brand of grills we use — Weber Grills. We like keeping our brand loyalty and we’ve got specific methods for cooking the food which I really like. [As for] my favorite seasoning […] it would probably be vegetable seasoning, that’s one of my faves,” Bartels said.

So, you might be wondering, what does the average grill club meeting look like? Well, it’s a laid back affair that puts an emphasis on slowing down, enjoying the food and enjoying the day. 

“The Grill Club team will set up somewhere; we’ve done it a lot by Taylor Lake, which is the nicest place in my opinion especially when it’s warm. Basically we just play some music, we’ve got games going on like frisbee and cornhole, and then we’ll just start grilling all the food. A lot of it is made to order. Like if someone wants a burger they’ll speak to the grill master and they’ll make it fresh. If we have hot dogs, we’ll cook them all at once. The pulled pork is always put out first, and people serve themselves. There’s always a table with condiments and salads and everything. And lots of drinks — as in ginger beer and that kind of stuff. But the whole time is basically just eating and grilling and talking and listening to music; there isn’t like a big cumulative event,” Bartels said.

Sophomore Dylan Vlasak, a frequent visitor of Grill Club events, spoke on how he enjoys both the food and social elements of the club.

“The food is always super high quality, and it’s a great place to hang out with friends,” Vlasak explained.

In keeping with the club’s laid-back vibe, joining and attending meetings is meant to be an easy and hassle-free process.

“It’s really just: we have an Instagram, we have a GroupMe with over, I think, 360 people, which is insane to me. We’ll announce meetings a week or two weeks before, but the food’s free, so you can just show up,” Cernosia explained. 

The coming of spring means the start of grilling season, and Cernosia outlined some of the interesting potential events on the club’s horizon. 

“I know campus safety said they would be interested in running a cornhole tournament. Having an opportunity to beat campo, and getting free food, that sounds like a great time. And we want to run a Grill Club formal, we think that would be funny. Other than that, we’re just trying to get meetings running again now that the weather is super nice out,” Cernosia said.

Grill Club plans to hold its first spring meeting on March 4. It will be a fundraiser with the Planned Parenthood Club.