Trinity students Raphi Patterson and Jonny Gregg are no strangers to planning events. Formerly the treasurer and arts installation officers of TrinityEnts respectively, they know how to throw a good party. This academic year, the two have decided to go it alone with a new project: the barbeque society.
The idea for the TCD BBQ Society aptly came to the pair over a burger, as Patterson was reminiscing about the summer he spent experiencing “real” barbecue culture in America. “I went to loads of barbecue spots and I loved it”, Patterson says. “From there, Jonny and I just thought ‘Why doesn’t Trinity have a barbecue society?’”
The idea of the barbecue society is already proving to be incredibly popular amongst the college community, with over 600 people following its Instagram page. “We feel as though we’ve really caught the imagination of the Trinity student body”, Patterson says.
Gregg also assures me that the duo feel prepared to run their society events “outside, safely, while maintaining distance”. To ensure their compliance with the coronavirus guidelines of society life, the proposed society is recruiting a safety officer. “That role will be to ensure that restrictions are followed, that social distancing guidelines are met and that this can all be done in a fun, social and yet completely safe manner”, Gregg says.
In terms of logistics, Gregg assures me that there are many locations across the city where safe, socially distanced barbecues can take place: “There are a lot of parks across Dublin with barbecue areas, another option could be beaches.” These events, I’m told, will not be ticketed but there will be a small fee to pay for the food and drink, to cover the cost.
When asked about the possible conflicts with the already established DU Food and Drink society, the pair seem confident that TCD BBQ society will set itself apart because of its “focus on one cultural idea”. “Across the world it’s a huge cultural thing, you go for the food, the event and the whole social aspect of it”, Gregg tells me. The proposed society hopes to collaborate with DU Food and Drink in the future, I’m told – so watch this space.
When challenged on the health implications of consistent barbecuing, the pair don’t shy away – although they don’t appreciate my use of the word “indulgent” to describe the outdoor eating style. “Cooking on a barbecue, especially with meat, you actually burn a lot more of the fat away and end up with quite a lean meat, so it’s actually quite a healthy way of eating”, says Gregg.
Patterson and Gregg also note that they intend to place a big emphasis on vegan and vegetarian cuisine as part of the society. “I mean some of the most amazing food you can get is vegetarian”, Gregg points out. “We have had quite a few good applicants for our role of Vegan Officer. Barbecues and meat don’t have to be synonymous”, Patterson adds.
I finish the interview by asking Patterson and Gregg about their long-term vision for the society five years down the line. “Just fantastic barbecues, with fantastic themes, great music, with a great community”, they reply.
Before I leave, Gregg and Patterson make sure to mention that they are running a competition to kickstart their proposed society: a barbeque will be held in honour of any Trinity student who gets the TCD BBQ society logo tattooed onto themselves. The pair promise that at said event, there will be “cut outs of your face” for everyone in attendance and “you will be an honorary member of the society for life”.