Athletics barbecue beefs up menu with gourmet steaks

Adam Icardo, left and Tom Antongiovanni, right, grill steaks at a CSUB Athletics BBQ. Icardo’s father, Gary Icardo, is the head grill chef, having taken over from his father, Jimmie Icardo, who help found the CSUB BBQ.

It’s good to change up annual traditions every now and then. On Thursday, Oct. 13, there will be two new items on the lineup for CSUB’s fall barbecue: Harris Ranch steaks and an Oktoberfest beer garden.

The 33rd annual CSUB Athletics Fall BBQ, “A Salute to Oktoberfest,” will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, inside the CSUB Icardo Center, 9001 Stockdale Highway. There will be food, drink, live entertainment, a photo booth, and a few surprises to get everyone into the Oktoberfest spirit.

One thing remains the same about this tradition – having the Icardo family among the army of volunteers it takes to feed more than 2,300 people in one night. Local farmer Gary Icardo continues the tradition his late father Jimmie Icardo started in the 1970s – grilling the steaks. Local lore includes the senior Icardo’s infamous barbecue fundraisers which began at Garces High School, where his son Gary was a student-athlete, and carried over to CSUB. The spring barbecue is still going strong after 39 years, and six years later the fall barbecue was added.

“I’ve been involved since the beginning,” said Gary Icardo. “I cooked behind my father with the crew, and then I took it over in 1995.”

In 2002, Gary Icardo suggested moving the barbecue to the CSUB campus, so people could experience the venue they were supporting. (Before, it was held at the county fairgrounds, and before that at a shooting range.)

“It’s been nothing but fabulous ever since,” Icardo said. “They do such a fantastic job inside the gym. It’s a very festive atmosphere. We consider it the party of the year, spring or fall – it doesn’t make a difference. People come to have a good time.”

Always one to keep upping the ante, Icardo suggested this past spring to upgrade to Harris Ranch steaks. Despite the premium price, he figured the move would give them a leg up on competing barbecue fundraisers around town. The steaks were a hit.

“There is not a better steak,” he said of the 12-ounce cuts.

Icardo willingly shares his grilling secrets. First, he enlists the help of 23 friends and family members, including his son Adam. They season the steaks two hours before grill time with two simple ingredients: garlic salt and cracked pepper. Working eight circular grills, the cooks spin the grates as they sear the steaks, ensuring even heat distribution.

“The key is the heat,” he said. “You want to make sure all the steaks are receiving the same heat and that the heat sears the meat and holds all the flavor inside, instead of letting the meat sit on the barbecue for a long time.”

In addition to steaks, they also grill chicken provided by Food Maxx. The menu is rounded out by bread sticks, salad, beans and salsa, and pies for desert. Along with the Oktoberfest theme this year, there will be a mini-beer garden featuring German and seasonal beer.

Live entertainment will be provided by local band Thee Majestics, as well as top hits by DJ Wreck and fellow mixers.

It takes more than 100 volunteers to put on an event this big. They include: CSUB student-athletes, members of Bakersfield West Rotary, the CSUB Alumni Association, the CSUB 60+ Club, and many others from the community. The event is sponsored by Bill Wright Toyota Scion, North Bakersfield Toyota Scion, and Southern California Orthopedic Institute.

Funds raised go directly to student-athlete scholarships at CSUB. Tickets are $30 pre-sale ($35 at the door) and include a free voucher to the Dec. 30 CSUB Men’s Basketball game at the Icardo Center, where they will play on the new blue floor which is attracting national attention. For tickets and more information, visit or call 661-654-3473.

— Jennifer Burger, CSUB Public Affairs Coordinator