Stop feeding your guest STEAK.
Lesson Learned: It means you don’t like them very much.
As a young Southern boy brought up in the low country of South Carolina, I learned early that “Dinner Parties” were mandatory for a normal civilized Southern society. In my home town of Holly Hill S.C., population 1000, there was often at least one “Supper Club” a week. One that I remember the most was “Steak Club”. At Steak Club the host provided the entrée and all the guest brought sides. As a child I was often sent to my room as it was an “Adult Party”, and I was allowed out to say hello to the guests and for my Mom to fix a plate for my dinner (That I enjoyed in my room watching whatever I wanted on my little black and white TV), and again before I went to bed to say good night to everyone.
Drama and scandal arose when one of the local men was kicked out of Steak Club for what he served twice. What did he serve that was so horrible? STEAK. Yes, steak…not only did he do it one time, but he did it TWICE when it was his turn to host. As a young boy I did not understand the controversy of this man’s dastardly deed. Shortly after I heard the news I asked my father, “Why was Mr. ------ kicked out of Steak Club for cooking steak?” My father, Burley Bannister was a farmer and salesman, and was about to teach me a lesson that has always stuck with me as an adult and I hope it will with you.
He said, “Son when you invite people into your home they should be people you care about. If you want to find out what someone thinks of you, go eat at their house. I can understand that if someone gets behind that then they may have to run to the store and get a steak for dinner, but if they feed you a steak every time you go there then they don’t really like you that much. People who like you - WILL COOK FOR YOU. A monkey can cook a steak; it is a cop-out at a dinner party. As you get older don’t have people over that you don’t think much of. Be picky about who you eat with and when you cook for someone, REALLY COOK don’t throw a routine steak on the grill…your guests deserve better, and it makes you look bad.” (Dad ranked Hamburgers higher than steak as the host had to form the patties, get the lettuce, tomato, etc. ready for the meal.)
It took another ten years for me to really understand what he said and realize how true it is. It is no coincidence that every major event in the bible was preceded with a meal. Example: The Wedding at Cana and the Last Supper. EVERY major relationship you have in your life will be with someone you have eaten with- always- there is no exception to this rule. Food brings people together to learn about each other.
My father’s lesson is this: Cook - really cook- take time and COOK for people you like and respect. Don’t be a cop-out with a routine steak. This is why I will always remember “Steak Club” fish fries, pig pickin’s, oyster roast, catfish stew, low country boil and BBQ chicken nights. I still never found out why it was called “Steak Club” I just knew that steak was not a viable option that night, unless it was an emergency like a bird dog dying or a death in the family.
As for the guy that cooked steak twice, he was basically ostracized from dinner parties for quite some time. That is like a big SCARLET LETTER in the South, and I am sure he learned his lesson.
Burley Bannister died of pancreatic cancer in 2000. Mr.----- still lives in Holly Hill and his name will always be withheld to protect his children from the shame of his missteps. I, Jeff “Rhino” Bannister, miss him dearly and will pass this lesson on to my children.
Jeff “Rhino” Bannister is an entrepreneur who just sold his business of 21 years and has been cooking since he was a child. In 2010 he and some friends founded Bovinoche a whole cow roast. He has been featured on The Travel Channel, Food Network and The Cooking Channel. Jeff was also one of the “Fat Guys” on the Weather Channels “Fat Guys in the Woods”.