Catering without the permits

Joined Feb 8, 2009
As Travel and Leisure shows it all depends on what window your looking through. The ones who look down on the lady in California will praise the others doing it in another venue.

food-obsessed diners around the world are seeking out these secret clubs, where strangers braise, sauté, and flambée for strangers, often illegally, for the sheer love of cooking. Some hobby chefs do it to test the restaurant waters before committing; 
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Joined May 25, 2015
I don't know what it is with people these days. Is this the Millennial mentality?  We have UBER and Airb&b where someone was able to throw enough money at an idea to make it look legit so the public accepts it. Then it becomes too big for law enforcement to stop. Looks like this is what's happening here. We have people who grew up with the internet and social media and it empowers them to say "the hell with the laws" because they get 1000 likes.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
According to the article, lady was warned, then given an option of a plea. She refused. Was shevreallybthinking of her 6kids?
Joined Feb 8, 2009
If they arrest the person cooking Illegally then they should arrest the person eating it also. I mean if the prostitute gets arrested the John also gets arrested. I could see me calling my wife from jail telling her to come bail me out. HI honey, I was involved in a sting and got caught red handed buying Illegal Ceviche. Her first thought would be leaving me in jail. I am now viewed a no good underhanded lowlife who would stoop so low to embarrass his whole family by buying an illegal seafood cocktail. I'll feel shamed when I eat my Tamales later but, I now know if I call my dinner a secret dinner club I'll be fine and reinstated back into the "people in the know club" of yuppies in America.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Waay back when, when we had our catering biz, I called the health boys on my competition. Guy was under bidding me by more than 50%.

Health boys "determined" he was operating out of his garage with no running water, poor lighting, and no refrigeration. Basically opened up a picnic cooler and found green burgers.

If you've never experienced food poisoning, then you are lucky.

The big line in the sand is selling food items. On one side of the line you've got licensed, inspected kitchens, with usually 3million insurance coverage. On the othervsidevof the line, you have home cooks with pets and kids in diapers running around, no inspections, and no insurance coverage.

A functioning set of kidneys are priceless, a damaged set will cost you money and grief for the rest of your life.

Its not something to be taken lightly.....


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I don't understand people that want to risk it, running an illegal catering operation out of an unlicensed kitchen.  Do they not understand the danger they put themselves in?  Let's face it, 99% of the time their food is going to be fine and no one is going to get sick, but just "what if...."?  Do they not understand the financial ruin they face if they make someone sick and don't have the insurance to cover it?  There is no way they will be able to afford the lawyer fees to defend themselves, let alone the legal costs, and the massive lawsuit that they will surely lose.  They don't even have to be the ones to make someone sick.  That person could get food poisoning from something else, but if they attribute it to the illegal  caterer and call the authorities, that caterer is still SOL.  Or what if the caterer allows the client to take the food home and he/she then stores it improperly and gets sick.  That illegal caterer might just avoid a huge lawsuit, but it's going to cost them thousands upon thousands of dollars to defend themselves in court, and again don't forget any fees resulting from their illegal business.  Seems like the possible risk way outweighs the potential profit.  Just seems rather stupid to me.
Joined Jan 15, 2016
When you need a little money to support 6'll do almost anything, plus the idea: "You can't get anything out of me if I don't have anything.". 
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Wonder if that idea of " you cant get anything out of me if I dont have anything" is still valid when mom of six wants to take a shower and wash her hair in the Woman's Correctional Facility?

She shoulda taken the plea......
Joined Oct 31, 2012
I have zero sympathy for her. She knowingly broke the law but now doesn't want the misdemeanor. And of course, she says the police aren't going after "real' criminals. I'm just glad we don't have to listen to her "poor me" regrets after making someone ill or killing them.  She should have taken the plea deal. Her sleepless nights should be spent being concerned about following food safety regulations. 
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I think I should redefine what I mean when I say I agree with this happening. What I know happens around every state is people will always cook food items and sell to others. What I agree with is a situation like " Were having a graduation party and you know a person that makes the best Lasagna around". I don't agree with someone opening up shop and competing with local B&M business that offer catering and follow the rules. There is a reason why we have the laws we have. If a person wants to cut corners and open an unlicensed food service in their home kitchen it's because of costs. If people are looking for a catered affair coming out an unlicensed kitchen they are asking for trouble. The main problem is not having the proper holding equipment to handle a large function. The OP showed a person in California making one item that looks to be her signature dish. While I don't agree with this particular dish "Ceviche" being the best choice to offer for sale in a unlicensed kitchen. Ceviche isn't cooked in the normal way of cooking. The seafood cocktail could be a bad choice for many reasons. I think we will always have people in our towns that offer homemade pies and cakes, Tamales and other food items that may not be any cheaper but just more authentic  and better than they can buy in stories. I agree totally with foodpump about his garage catering story. There is no way a legally establishment should have to compete with this kind of illegal operation. I also think this rogue type cooking happens a lot with BBQ/smoked meats. Someone could pull the smoker around town and smoke the meats at the home or function. The problem I have seen over the years with these people is not holding the food properly in refrigeration or hot holding......
Joined May 5, 2010
In the small town where I live I know of 3 caterers that cook out of their homes.
Many people avail themselves with these caterers.

Their food is almost always mediocre, rarely hot, and I shudder to think that they are all still in business.

All it would take would be one phone call......
Joined Jun 27, 2012
I always think of the "cake ladies" who fly under the radar.

The B&M places were being pounded with some serious competition as some were pretty talented and able to bid in at a fraction of "legal" prices.

Here comes the cottage law and some were able to get a leg up and now have beautiful shoppes (now THEY complain re "the cake ladies") lol.

Everyone loves a Cinderella story and those who take advantage of the American Dream theory and do well are heros in my mind.

No that is not my story ... found out pretty quickly that I would rather work FT in healthcare and do a few weddings and holidays...or not.

No patience for the office work lol.

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