'Cooking for a Cause'
Introduction to the First Chapter
From backyard barbecues to 'Cooking for Charity'
Like all Texans, our cooking experience started with a backyard BBQ pit where we smoked briskets, ribs, turkeys, and sausage for friends who brought their meat over to us and said, “You guys are such great cooks, would you mind cooking this for us?”
In 1983, my wife Horacene and I owned a shrimp boat we kept at our bay house in Galveston, Texas. Back then my Uncle, Chuck Daugird worked for a school district. He called me one morning and said the district just remodeled a school kitchen and asked him to haul off the outdated equipment. “I’m bringing over a 40 gallon steam kettle,” he said. “It’s a little heavy, so I’ll need some help unloading it.” He had a good point; it weighted over 200 pounds.
When I asked him what we should do with it, he replied, “Boil shrimp caught from your boat! It didn't take long for neighbors to start coming over to help clean and cook the catch and we all had fun eating fresh seafood. Little did we know my love of cooking and bringing people together would become a huge part of our lives.
As time went on, neighbors in this seaside community began asking to borrow the pot for their own shrimp boils. We obliged by delivering the big pot in the back of my pick-up truck and soon it became the hit of every party.
The Road to Charity
In 1968 I opened a State Farm Agency in Houston, Texas. As time went on I moved my insurance agency to Friendswood. My love of the water led me to design our building to look like a lighthouse. Because it was different, it attracted attention and my business flourished.
We lived our motto - “People Helping People”
In 1984 the Jerry Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) approached me asking permission to use the location for a pledge center over Labor Day. We agreed. Realizing the event would attract people and they’d need to eat, Horacene and I borrowed a barbecue trailer from my friend Max Bowen and called our friends to help. We set up a food serving station to cook and serve some barbecue brisket, chicken and sausage to the pledge center volunteers and the community. It was a big success.
The MDA continued holding its yearly fundraiser at this location for eight years raising tens of thousands of dollars each year while we served crowds that grew into the thousands. The 'Light-House' was now established as a landmark for charitable giving in the Friendswood community.
Soon, Little League teams, Boy Scout troops, church organizations, schools and other civic organizations came to us asking us to help them plan and serve their community fundraisers and celebrations. Along with Horacene and I, the small group of friends and neighbors that joined us to help became the original Lighthouse Cooking Team. When we weren’t cooking, we were designing and building the pits and grills needed to handle the large numbers of people we served.
I owned a twenty-foot gooseneck red trailer I bought from a student for $750 in my garage, and we figured it would fit the bill. We named the red trailer “Grandma” and put in a barbecue pit, a big pot, sink and a roof on it. “Grandma” helped us raise over $300,000 for charity.
In 1986 we were invited to compete in the International Rib Cook Off in Cleveland Ohio. We thought it would be a great opportunity to compete against forty championship-cooking teams and make a little money for our effort.
We took Grandma and a couple borrowed trailers and served ten thousand pork spareribs the first day at “a buck a bone.” It was extremely hard work. On the second day we sold “two bones for two bucks.” This went on for five days. We needed to replenish supplies and went into town for provisions dressed in our best Texas gear.
Our dusters (long cowboy coats) and boots drew a curious crowd. “Come buy our ribs!” We encouraged everyone we met. They came and we sold a lot of ribs.
At the end of the week we counted our money and were excited when we deposited 40,000 dollars in the bank. Then we counted our expenses. They totaled 42,500 dollars. Lesson learned. You can’t fly in cooks, stay at great hotels, eat your product and expect to make a profit. It was a lesson that stayed with us.
We decided cook-offs, catering and other moneymaking cooking ventures were too much hard work and we needed to stick to our real jobs. After all, we cooked for MDA and several other charities for a few years now and felt we were fulfilling our contribution to the community.
But, our adventures in the cooking world were barely beginning. Our banker Jerry Quarles liked to cook. He talked his bank into financing and sponsoring an additional trailer to accompany “Grandma” in 1987. We were happy to have the funds to build this new trailer, but building didn’t go smoothly. We used the wrong material and made a structural mistake. It was gunmetal gray with sidewalls and small window openings. The outside was made of one-quarter inch steel plate which made the trailer too heavy. The twelve-foot long pipe pit not only heated up the structure too much, it also smoked us out every time we cooked.
By Monday when we returned to our jobs after cooking all week-end our throats were so sore we could barely talk. We eventually sold the trailer and occasionally saw it at various cook-offs. We’d walk by nonchalantly acting like we’d never seen it before. If it made its new owners happy, we were happy to be rid of it. I hope reading this book will help you save money and avoid some of our mistakes..
Our next venture was with Larry French and Pat Allen in 1988, owners of Acme Welding in Friendswood. Larry and I bought two, retired 25-year old rotisseries from the Pappas Family. Acme was going to rebuild the pits and put them on a newly redesigned trailer.
It's an Honor to Serve Our Military
We named the red trailer “Big Daddy” because it was the team’s nickname for me. That rotisserie cooked over 100,000 pounds of meat annually for over ten years... Our proudest times are when Big Daddy spends time with our military, feeding the troops and their families.
These are just a few of the many stories included in this picture filled guidebook.
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