Meals on wheels

Mike Lash

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Mike Lash has owned his eponymous, well-known Park Avenue glass company, Lash’s Glass, for 19 years. The 51-year-old Chico native is also a barbecue chef, cooking for hire, or—his favorite—as a volunteer for fund-raisers for such community organizations as the Boys and Girls Club, the Chico Fire Department and the Jesus Center. His Chico Bar-B-Q Co., which offers a range of barbecue grills for sale or rent, along with an assortment of spices, sauces and cooking tools, is housed in the front reception area of his glass business. Seven years ago, Lash acquired a virtually abandoned fire truck that dated back to 1946—used in its heyday by the Orland Volunteer Fire Department—from a friend who had stored it in his orchard. ("Squirrels were living in it,” said Lash. “I took a half a garbage can of walnuts out of it.") He thought it would make a great barbecue-on-wheels. Lash, an experienced, self-taught welder, had already created a barbecue from a mid-1800s mine cart, which he still keeps inside a “mine shaft” he built in the back yard of his Barber neighborhood home. When he entertains, Lash rolls the heavy metal barbecue cart out of the mine on tracks he built and starts cooking. Lash spent three years restoring and rebuilding his fire truck, switching out the original frame for a newer Pace Arrow motor-home frame, and installing a large Traeger wood-pellet barbecue grill in the back of the shiny red vehicle, which he drives to his barbecue gigs these days.

When did you get into the barbecue business?

Eighteen years ago. … I’ve helped people do pigs. I also have griddles to do pancake feeds. Usually I just show up and cook the meat for the people.

What do you usually cook on your fire-truck barbecue?

Lots of tri-tip. And chicken, and baked potatoes. I’ve done cornbread, and chocolate-chip cookies. And pizza.

Chocolate-chip cookies on a barbecue?

Well, it’s easy to do. And they don’t really get smoky. The really good stuff, though, is bacon-wrapped scallops, and bacon-wrapped ahi tuna.

Do you do a lot of the cooking at your house?

I do 90 percent of the cooking at my house—everything except baking. My wife does the baking—and the clean-up. [Chuckles.] Back when I went to Chico High School, I wanted to get into auto shop, but I couldn’t because three girls had signed up ahead of me, so I took a foods class and learned to cook. … Two years ago, I took first place at the chili contest at the Eagles Club.

I’ll bet kids really like your fire truck.

Yeah, they do. I’ve taken my 5-year-old niece for a ride. You gotta be careful running the siren, though, ‘cause you’re not supposed to do that!