Officers:Big Cookout How-To

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Big Cookout How-To
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This document explains how I have handled the cookouts in the past. Feel free to improve upon my suggestions. It is nice to update these documents with your good ideas, so that the next social chairperson will have an easy time of it.

This document covers big cookouts such as the orientation cookout and the Lab Day / IPoCSE cookout. For the regular summer cookouts, check out my small cookouts document.


Long before the cookout

Make sure that the cookout is not on a major holiday. This can be especially important for Jewish holidays, because a significant minority of students are Jewish. The same goes for Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu holidays. It is not nice to have a cookout during the day during Ramadan or on Yom Kippur.

Because CSEG orientation is scheduled in the Spring for the following Fall, you might want to consult with the CSEG Vice-President, who schedules orientation, and together eliminate any conflicts.

Two weeks before the cookout

Advertise the cookout by sending mail to cseg-social and csefac to make sure that you reach faculty members and interested students. Send mail out about 10 days before the cookout and then a couple of times in the three days before the cookout. Remember to include the location, time, and date of the cookout. Cookouts are usually held outside the EECS building. If it rains, you can have the cookout in the atrium and put the grills to the side of the EECS atrium entrance under the porch area. You want to imbue the date in everyone's consciousness far in advance, and then remind them close to the event.

Find volunteers by sending mail to cseg-social. Use guilt, threats, and bribes to convince people to volunteer. Announce that you will cancel the cookout if you do not get enough assistance. There will always be people who are first in line to eat for every cookout, but never volunteer to help. There will also be a core group of people who assist you every time. Here is a minimal list of helpers that you will need:

You may want to announce a special CSEG event for the cookout. I had pretty good success organizing a CSEG orientation kickball game. YMMV.

Send email out to your helpers a few days before the cookout and on the day of the cookout so they know what their duties are. Send them the entire volunteer schedule, so that if they cannot work at their scheduled time, they can either change places with someone, or find another volunteer.

Get some folding tables by contacting Ken McGrath (he has no email address, as far as I know) and telling him how many you need and where you need them. He will probably ask you to meet him with some folks to move the tables to the site of the cookout.

Get some garbage cans from the cleaning staff. You have to call the Custodial department at x4-0521. Ask for Charles ??? or Willie Horton. Or just ask for the cans, they will forward your call to the correct person. Linda Sen (x6-1470) is our area manager, and actually will be in charge of getting us the cans. You might want to talk to her directly. I've never tried it. Try to emphasize that you want giant garbage cans. We got tiny ones one time.

You should give at least one week's notice to these folks.

Locate the CSEG grills, grilling utensils, and charcoal and make sure that they will be available for the cookout. For a small cookout, you will want two grills. CSEG owns two... a nice Weber and a junky old other grill. You may want to ask the CSEG members if anyone has a grill they can lend to you for the day. This has worked in the past. If you are lucky, a vegetarian will lend you a grill which has not cooked meat. You can use this to cook the veggie burgers (see the shopping list below).

The day of the cookout

Go shopping. Heck, you can even do this the night before. Do not buy alcoholic beverages to serve at the cookout. The cookouts are outdoors and it is against University policy and Ann Arbor laws to drink in a public place. Put the goodies in the CSEG refrigerator office (room 3220 EECS). Make sure to keep this room relatively tidy, since it is used for Quentin Stout's (CSEG's advisor) graduate students. If you need more room to freeze ice, there is a big old refrigerator in room 3313. The wheely carts in room 3313 EECS are a big help for moving food around. This room gets locked up at 5pm, so if you need the carts after that, make sure that you snag them before 5pm. Return them ASAP, and make sure they are fairly clean.

Have your set-up people meet you an hour before the cookout and get the grills started immediately. Use lots of charcoal since the grills are going to burn for a couple hours. The set-up crew can also move the food down to the cookout location and place it on the tables. I would recommend that you put out a little more than half the food and keep the rest in reserve. Then, when something runs out, put the reserve stash of food on the table. This prevents having lots of half-eaten bags of chips and half-full bottles of pop when the cookout is over.

When setting up the grills and tables, try to create efficient paths of food creation and consumption. Set up the grills a bit away from the food tables. You may want to set up the grills in the shade, so that the uncooked meat and the burger flippers stay cooler. People will either wait at the food tables for the cooked meat to be brought to them; or they will line up with open buns at the grills. You can satisfy their carnivorous needs either way.

Start cooking the first round of burgers about 15 minutes before the cookout is scheduled to begin. This way you will have meat ready as soon as people arrive.

CSEG has some recreational equipment that currently lives in 2001 EECS. It includes a volleyball, a soccer ball, a playground ball, some cones, and some throw bases and a Gatorade cooler. All of these make for a festive cookout. The Gatorade cooler is especially handy as an ice bucket.

I thought that it was more festive when the cookouts were set-up close to the volleyball courts. This encourages people to play volleyball and other games since it is out in the grass, and discourages side-walking passers by from munching up all of CSEG's food.

Have your clean-up crew meet 15-30 minutes before the end of the cookout. Put out the fires and dump the ashes in the bushes. Pass out any perishable, unopened leftovers. Take the tasty snacks to your office for your office-mates. Save any non-perishables for the next cookout or happy hour. You can freeze any left-over burgers. I have heard that freezing hot dogs is a bad idea. Throw the rest away. Don't feel guilty... it is not your fault.

You can also take any perishable leftovers to Food Gatherers. Call them (761-2796 or 930-0550). They are on 1731 Dhu Varren Rd, which you can get to by taking Pontiac Trail north of Town. Dhu Varren is a dirt road. Turn east on Dhu Varren and go about a quarter mile. Food gatherers is on the north side of the road. You will see the big, painted carrots...

Send a thank-you note to your volunteers.

Shopping List

This is just a sample list. Of course, you should adjust this list based on the results of your previous cookout experiences.


Meatlike Substances

Vegetables and Support Food


Support Equipment

Stuff that CSEG already has, but make sure that it is available

Food History

Date New Students Food bought Leftover For next time
Fall 2010 (orientation) ~75 160 hot dogs, 180 hamburgers, 48 vegie patties, 5 large bags of chips, 144 12oz soda ~20 hot dots, 45 burgers, 1 bag chips -burgers, +soda, -condiments, ++ice, +serving dishes, only use gas grill?
May 2011 (end-of-year) (lunch) ~100 hot dogs, ~80 hamburgers, 48 veggie patties, 4 bags of chips, 72 12oz soda, 24 .5 L water bottles, 2.5 lb. tomatoes, 1 giant onion, 3 heads romaine lettuce 5 burgers w/out buns, ~10 hot dogs Make sure "hamburgers + veggie = buns", +soda, +ketchup, +(lettuce/tomato/onion), keep away undergrads
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