May 22, 2008

Rotary Cooker Ready For Busy Summer of Grilling

Where there is smoke, there is fire. Around these parts, if that fire is being produced by the Scotland County Rotary club’s cooker, it means good things.

After nearly a decade in service, the mobile gas barbecue outfit recently spent a little time in the shop. But to the relief of local appetites, the crew at Walker Motors has the cooker as good as new and ready to roll for the 2008 summer season.

“Just like any machine, time took its toll on our cooker,” said Rotarian Brent Walker. “It is still a great piece of equipment, we just need to do a little refurbishing to make sure Rotary can keep on cooking for years to come.”

That refurbishing involved replacing the heat shields and servicing the burners, cleaning and redrilling many of the more than 1,100 orifices. The huge barbecue grill on wheels also got a new paint job, with the grill itself receiving a new coat of temperature sensitive black paint to go along with the Rotary blue trailer and surroundings.

Walker, who chaired the refurbishing project, enlisted the crew at his business to provide a professional upgrade of the unit. The work crew included Walker, Rick Shively, Derrick Hamilton, Kevin Kearns, Ellen Clark, Riley Watkins and Chad Trueblood. Fellow Rotartian Rayburn Snell of Memphis Farm and Home also assisted with the project, as did Brian Holton of Holton’s Welding Service.

The project was completed this spring, meaning the grill is ready to roll for what is expected to be a busy summer of grilling by the Rotary Club.

Chicken is typically the top of the Rotary menu. The cooks can prepare as many as 125, half birds in one grilling. Such events as the Scotland County Antique Fair require two rounds of grilling to prepare up to 250 chicken dinners that generally are sold out as fast as they come off the cooker.

The club also offers advance-sale dinners once or twice a year. Members sell tickets for the meals, which are available for pick-up the day of the event. Gary Young graciously allows the club to utilize space just east of Gas & More to host the cooking and the meal pickups.

Generally those events don’t quite match up to the Antique Fair sales. Of course that cook pales in comparison to the Rotary Clubs biggest catering job, which only occurs once every three years, the annual meeting of the Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone Cooperative.

The club members have to recruit extra grills for that project, which requires 700 to 1,000 chicken and steak meals.

That generally is the only time the Rotary grill sees beef. The club predominantly cooks barbecued chicken, but has been known to offer pork chops and grilled boneless pork loin sandwiches as well.

“The schedule hasn’t been finalized yet for the summer cooks, but stay tuned for more information,” Walker said.

Or just keep an eye out for the barbecue smoke.

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