Magazine Feature

Student grilling group smokes the competition

Students who know about the University of Denver Grilling Society (DUGS) typically fall in one of two groups: They’re either members, or they’re hungry.

DUGS is a student-run catering company with about 20 members who love to cook and grill. The society was started in May 2007 by a group of grill-loving students who “had no real intentions or visions other than being able to grill for people on campus,” says Jordan Hahn, DUGS president.

The start was, well, a little half-baked, Hahn says. It was “a totally unorganized hang-out on the green … we just grilled food and handed it to people.” Since then, though, the club has turned into a well-done idea.

“We have a pretty good mix of genders, majors and class years … we all like food and cooking,” says Hahn, a senior marketing major from Indianapolis, Ind.

The group caters to groups and events within the DU community almost exclusively on campus. However, it also has catered charity events for the Ronald McDonald House and a DU tailgate at a Colorado Rapids soccer game.

DUGS food is always free to attendees. The club supports itself by catering events for other DU organizations. So far, the club has bought its own large grill, which Hahn says allows the group to partner with other student organizations to serve more of the DU community.

On the menu: burgers, dogs, sausages, Mediterranean chicken pitas, pizza, barbecue, smoked ribs, cedar-plank salmon and much more.

“We’ve done theme menus such as everything-on-a-stick, we did a burger event with eight kinds of burgers and when DU plays Colorado College, we cook tiger prawns because it’s the closest we can get to real tiger,” Hahn says.

Among student favorites: a vegetable medley and grilled pineapple.

Tara Murphy, a senior Spanish major from Eden Prairie, Minn., who’s been to many DUGS events, says the grilled pineapple is one of her top choices.

“The food is way better than any of the food on campus,” she says. “I also like the shrimp skewers.”

Murphy says she likes the entire concept.

“I can meet up with friends and enjoy the food,” she says. “I love how DUGS sets up on campus … it’s always great to walk out of class and have a delicious meal waiting for you. And it gives students a chance to learn something while hanging out with new friends.”

Damien Goddard (BSBA ’89) who lives in Houston and attends many DU hockey games each year, has eaten at several DUGS events and says the club is a good way for alumni to interact with students in a casual environment.

“I’ve seen firsthand the amount of effort and pride the students put into these events, from the quality and preparation of the food, to the marketing necessary to draw a good crowd,” Goddard says. “I’ve seen the students communicate through Facebook to design, market and implement their events. I think DUGS has limitless potential for more and larger events and more networking between alumni and students.”

Hahn says the most fun events are Homecoming and Colorado College tailgates.

“We usually draw between 500 and 800 people, and it’s a great gathering of DU fans,” he says. “We’re all pretty big into DU hockey and DU in general, so events like that really boost morale on campus.”

As for the future, DUGS members are compiling “a few dozen” recipes to post on its Web site, A cooking class is in the works as is an all-vegetarian event. They might even publish a cookbook.

“Our horizons are still expanding,” Hahn says.