A longtime volunteer in the community, Ray Grose is synonymous with barbeque time with groups such as the Alma Optimist Club.
Now, his 30-plus years of BBQ beef dinners at the Alma Community Hall will be coming to an end. Last Friday was the last time Ray and his wife Ruth will be providing the beef dinner and gravy for the club’s bi-monthly fundraiser.
About three decades ago, Ray even made his own homemade barbeque oven for the feast.
“It took lots of welding. Our family owns a factory, Husky Farm Equipment, so we had all the facilities to build it,” he said. “It took me a Saturday, and it is still going.”
The special grill, which measures in at more than six feet long, sits in a shed at the Grose family home.
“I can fit enough beef in there for 500 people,” he shared.
And he’s grilled up dinner for countless people over the years, a volunteer effort he says was just something that needed doing.
“I just like helping out the Optimist Club, that’s all. I am a member and our family just helps them out.”
Hundreds of people file into the Alma Community Hall on the last Friday of every other month, just to eat Ray’s barbeque oven-cooked beef.
“We order the beef out of Toronto, or my wife does, and I just put it on the barbeque and cook it,” he said with a laugh, adding the cooking process is an all-night activity. “It is always top quality beef. I put it on the barbeque about 7 p.m. the night before and it is pretty well done the next morning.”
Ray isn’t alone in preparing for the bi-monthly meal for the community. Ruth Grose has been whipping up a big batch of gravy with the beef drippings for the hungry crowds to enjoy.
“My grandson helps me and we … get started (the afternoon of the meal),” she said. “We try to make it the same every year and I have heard that everybody likes it.”
There is no big secret behind the gravy, shared Ruth, “I just have my own spices that I put in it.”
For Ruth, part of the reason she enjoys lending a helping hand and her kitchen to the Alma Optimist Club is the work they do year-round within the community.
“One of their themes is raising money to help the youth in town,” she said. “And we have just kept doing this every two months for 10 years.”
Before the bi-monthly feast, Ruth says she and Ray would cook just four times a year, and before that, just twice a year.
“It has been quite a while,” she shared.
With last Friday marking the final time Ray will be donating his time and barbeque to the Alma Optimist Club, residents and club supporters will without a doubt miss his cooking.