Being the BBQ Frosh!

Hello! It’s Mason again with another post!

Headshot of Mason Acevedo wearing glasses, a gray collared shirt, and a striped tie.

Mason Acevedo, Class of 2022

About two weeks after the start of school, at my dorm’s very first dorm meeting, I volunteered to be Atwood dorm’s BBQ Frosh – but what does it mean to be the BBQ Frosh?

Well, in summary, it means that I’m the freshman responsible for organizing Atwood’s weekly BBQs. But there’s so much more than that. So, here’s the story of how a BBQ happens:

Requesting the BBQ

It begins with the signup sheet. Every week, I’ve got to send an email to Atwood dorm, telling them to either put their name on a spreadsheet if they want to attend the BBQ, or take their name off if they don’t.

Picture is a screenshot of a computer screen. The spreadsheet shows the dorm having the BBQ, the date of the BBQ, and the student requesting the BBQ.

The Atwood sign-up sheet!

Once people have put their name on this spreadsheet, I submit it to the Hoch (our dining commons). The wonderful Hoch employees need time to prepare for BBQs, so if you want a BBQ on a certain weekend, you’ve got to submit it by the Tuesday before the BBQ.

Getting the BBQ

By the time Friday rolls around, the Hoch has prepared up to 5 BBQs for the various dorms.

Picture shows a grill with lots of items stacked on it, including a large tray of fruit, a cooler for meat patties, a box of chips and plates, and a cooler/dispenser for lemonade.

Look at what the Hoch employees set up for us every week!

I take just one of these to Atwood, all the way across Mudd’s campus. Mudd seems small until you’ve got to drag this huge thing around!

These BBQs have all the following things:

  • A grill, coals, and lighter fluid to light the fire and start the BBQ
  • Burger patties (veggie patties included, you request them on the form!)
  • Tortillas with cheese for quesadillas
  • Buns, cheese, lettuce, and other such accessories for the burgers
  • Lemonade
  • Chips and cookies

Once I get the BBQ to Atwood, I’ve got to start the fire and get the grill hot. This is surprisingly not “light a match and you’re done.” Totally not what I learned in the movies.

Actually BBQing!

Starting the fire is an elaborate process.

  • Fill a cup with lighter fluid,
  • Douse the coals in lighter fluid, and let them soak for a while so the lighter fluid doesn’t burn instantly.
  • Mound the coals into a pyramid/lump shape, with the lighter fluid in the middle.
  • Light it!
Picture shows coals on a tin-foil surface, on fire. The coals are mostly black, with some spots of gray.

The fire has been going for a few minutes at this point, but still isn’t ready.

The picture shows the same mound of coals on fire, except in this picture, the fire was doused with lighter fluid just a few seconds ago, so the fire is particularly bright and impressive.

This picture was taken just a few seconds after adding lighter fluid! Magic!

The fire does take some time and maintenance to get hot enough for grilling. So, I have to pay attention to the fire for about 20 minutes, using the lighter fluid when the fire gets low.

While I’m getting the fire started, some of the people who are most enthusiastic about the BBQs come out early to chat. These BBQ enthusiasts are also the ones who taught me how to do all this, so shout-out to them!

Once the coals start turning gray, the fire is hot enough for cooking. We shake the whole apparatus a bit, so that the coals go from being arranged in a huge mound in one spot, to being flat and evenly dispersed over the coal-pit.

Whereas the previous pictures show the coal in a huge mound, this picture shows the coals laid out, without mounding/stacking. Nearly every coal has gray patches at this point.

Look at at those nice gray spots!

By the time the fire gets to this point, I’ve sent an email to the dorm, telling them that the BBQ will be ready soon, and most of them can probably smell the smoke anyway. People trickle out from the dorm and come to BBQ!

Once we put the actual grilling surface on top of the fire, people can throw on their food and start cooking!

This picture shows that a metal grilling surface has been put over the coals, so that there's something to put the patties on. There are 3 relatively raw patties on the grill.

Yum! Burgers coming up!

I usually make at least a cheeseburger, and often a quesadilla.

While the other pictures were taken in the afternoon, this one is dark, after the sun has set. My quesadilla is in the foreground, with the grill in the background.

The Grill ft. My Quesadilla

After I’ve eaten real food, I usually take a cookie and throw it on the edge of the grill, where it’s significantly less hot than the middle. The cookies get warm, soft, and melty, and it’s a wonderful dessert at the end of the week, at the end of the BBQ.

That wraps up the BBQ experience.

This is my favorite Mudd tradition :D. I really enjoy talking to my fellow dorm mates, bonding over food, and relaxing at the end of the week.

Until next time,

Mason Acevedo