Community BBQ for Grand Forks this afternoon, Castlegar man cooking the cuts
There will be a barbecue tonight (Sunday) at 4 p.m. at the Grand Forks Arena for residents, evacuees and volunteers, thanks in large part to Castlegar’s own Randy Benigen, who also served dinner to hundreds of soldiers at the same location last night.
Benigen, 53, works as a boilermaker and has for 28 years, but started smoking meat years ago as a hobby, eventually building up a small business through which he caters outdoor weddings and events.
“It’s just a hobby,” he said.
“When a friend of mine, Lise MacDonald, told me she was going out to Grand Forks to do sandbagging, I couldn’t join, because I recently hurt my shoulder and my knee.
“But I can cook.”
He went and bought up a bunch of food, rented chairs, tables, etc. from Trowelex and hauled the lot, along with a fridge and smoker, to Grand Forks.
“Yesterday I cooked for the army guys – hamburgers, hot dogs, stogies,” he said. “They only have rations, and they’re so sick of them, some are even throwing them out.”
He said he served at least 200 to 250 people, running completely out of food (the last six soldiers had to settle for sandwiches).
“I came blind, I didn’t know how much to bring,” Benigen said.
“Then I started up the smoker at 7:30 a.m. today with beef and pork (between 70 and 80 pounds),” he said. “I’m doing just the meat, but I’ve got people coming from Castlegar with potato salad.”
Local volunteers will also be bringing a range of accompanying dishes, from salads to baked goods to desserts.
When asked why he would go to all this effort and incredible expense, Benigan said, “Well, because I heard they were running low on food for the army, so I came.
“Good timing, I guess.”