Monday, April 25, 2011

Bovinova 2011- Epicurean Cattle Roast

Food, friends, fire, whiskey, cigars, whole animals. That spells Bovinova 2011. Jeff Bannister, owner of Serve-One Process Serving and a member of Chief Executive Boards International in Upstate South Carolina, is a true epicurean.  Jeff saw a YouTube video about a couple of guys in Argentina who roasted a whole steer over an open fire. The video gauntlet had been thrown, and Jeff decided he had to try it.

Jeff enlisted another CEBI member, Brad Cunningham, owner of Network Controls and Electric, as his partner in this project. After almost a year of planning, they staged it as "Bovinova 2011, an Epicurean Cattle Roast" and a customer appreciation event for their two companies. 

Through a combination of their own networks and social media, the event went viral, and became what those of us who claim to remember the '70s would call a "happening". As the plan escalated, engineering and fabrication began on a suspension/hoist/roasting frame that would support an entire beef over an open fire. In parallel, they decided, why not roast four lambs and a goat? At one time a raccoon was also considered, but dropped, apparently in deference to the Newhart Show cast.

1,000 pounds of steel and a lot of money later, the roasting machinery was complete, bearing a small resemblance to the cow catapult in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Finally the date came, and at 6 pm on Friday night, April 15, 2011, the steer was lowered over the fire. Then, as Jeff said, "something we didn't expect" happened -- as the first layer of fat melted and dripped into the fire the scene turned into an inferno.

Ever prepared, Jeff grabbed a hose sprayer, doused the flames and the roasting proceeded in earnest.

As bad luck would have it, about that time a giant storm system that had ravaged the southeastern US through the day (spawning 100 tornadoes and killing over 40 people in its path) rolled into South Carolina and Bovinova became a battle with nature. Rain and gale-force winds didn't deter Jeff and crew who prevailed through the night, tending, basting, turning, roasting, smoking cigars and drinking whiskey. As the storm cleared in the morning, 300 people showed up for the lunch and party Saturday noon.

These guys thought of everything. They had serving tables, side dishes and all the trimmings, drinks, desserts, as well as a band. It turned out to be everything anyone might have imagined, truly an "Epicurean Cattle Roast". Hats off to Jeff, Brad and all the folks who pitched in to make this event work.

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Terry Weaver


Chief Executive Boards International

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