Stories I tell, Labor Day cookout


I think it was 2005 when the Times sports copy desk Labor Day cookout began. It became a tradition that when Florida State played on Labor Day (not every year), I'd haul in a Weber grill and cook burgers for those working in sports. I supplied the burgers, the rest supplied the buns, cheese, sides, etc., pot-luck style. (Pro tip: Make sure the guy bringing the charcoal isn't the late guy.)

We didn't just make any burgers. We stepped it up. I think Basil Burgers (ground beef, dried basil, Worcestershire sauce) were a staple. I think we also had Rosemary-Sage Burgers and possibly Pizza Burgers each time. But there usually was a forth option. I think one year it was a Garlic Burger, another a Beer Burger. I don't recall them all.

I generally use a gas grill at home, so the first year, I recall setting up next to the Times' Tramor cafeteria. I used too much charcoal and lighter fluid and had a raging inferno going. "Paul Tash is going to be upset if I burn down the Tramor," I thought about the Times' chairman and CEO.

Another year, I had the fire going when a Times security guard, who didn't recognize me, walked out. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"Grilling hamburgers," I replied.

"Why here?"

"Oh, I work in the Sports department."

I was thinking of the Sports crew a couple weeks ago as I made Basil Burgers for Labor Day. I made sure to add everyone's favorite touch: the toothpick sign that identified the type of burger.