Thursday, April 21, 2016

OOIDA member pilots ‘World’s Largest Grill’

Next time your trucking charity is having a cookout, maybe you should give OOIDA Life Member Bill Perregaux a call.

Perregaux, of Waukesha, Wis., is one of the skippers for the Johnsonville Brats Big Taste Grill, a sight that’s sure to bring a tear to the eye of any grillmaster (and probably a hearty rumble in the stomach too).

The grill itself is 20 feet tall, 65 feet long, and 6 feet in diameter. The lid alone weighs 6,000 lbs., and is opened via a hydraulic system. Underneath all that is a 440,000-BTU grilling area that (with enough volunteers) can turn out 2,500 perfectly cooked brats in an hour, or 750 in a single sitting on more than 40 square feet of grill. A 4-foot aluminum walkway surrounds the grilling area, giving cooks and volunteers room to maneuver.

The Big Taste Grill also features hot and cold running water, cleanup sinks and a refrigeration unit that can store up to a half-ton of brats, which is just about the right amount to cover a Grisolano Family Reunion over Memorial Day Weekend.

Bill was on his way back from California on Tuesday, where the rig was being featured in a TV commercial, and decided to stop at Exit 24 to say hello. We’re sure glad he did.

Bill said he sold his LTL trucking company in 2000 and transitioned into a career as a corporate Class A hauler, piloting dozens of promotional vehicles, although not the famous Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. At 78 years old, he said he still enjoys being on the road.

“I don’t want a job,” he said. “I just want to run away from home every now and then.”

His favorite part of driving the grill is when he is asked to bring it to help out a charity function, or when people take pictures of it as he’s going down the road.

“They’re just dumbfounded by it. People just walk around it in a daze,” he said.

The grill is on a national tour from April to October. You can check out the grill’s website for a list of where it’s going to be next. Chances are, it’s coming to a festival near you this summer.