New to Catering (BBQ)

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by smokinbuddha, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. smokinbuddha

    smokinbuddha

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    Cook At Home
    Hello all,

    I have been BBQing for 10 years now for friends and family mostly and have recently been fumbling around with the idea of starting a catering business.  Not a full time job, just on the weekends for now.  I have been reading a lot of things on the web about licenses and permits and tax IDs and I understand the need for these.  The trouble I am having is with the professional kitchen.  Most of the meals I will be making will be centered around smoking meat with a few side dishes.  Do I have to have a professional kitchen to smoke pork shoulders?  I have a really nice barrel smoker in the backyard that seems to be just fine.  It's not an oil drum that I converted to a smoker.  It was purchased as a smoker only.  I don't see the sense in renting a professional kitchen to put baked macaroni and cheese in the oven or BBQ beans in a pot on the stove top just for an hour. 

    I'm not trying to start this business on the wrong foot.  I would like to conform to the rules and laws, but without quiting my full time job to run a full time catering company how can I profitably run a part time catering business out of my home if I have to rent a professional kitchen for every small job I get? 

    If this business seems to be taking off, I have every intention of making it a full time job. 
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011
  2. lowandslow

    lowandslow

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    At home cook
    where you from buddah?
     
  3. smokinbuddha

    smokinbuddha

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    Right outside of New Orleans
     
  4. lowandslow

    lowandslow

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    ya- i think i would probably try to fly under the radar in the beginning as much as i could till i was sure things were going to take off - you can also check craigslist in your area for professional kitchens for rent - they charge by the hour and have everything you need- might be worth it for a larger crowd..just a thought-

    good luck -

    i just found this site today but will probably be coming back regularly to check it out feeel free to message me or whatever and let me know how its going.
     
  5. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Hi SB, Welcome to Cheftalk. The best thing to do is stop by and have a talk with your local health dept. The Health dept wants to make sure you are cooking, holding, and transporting your food in a safe manner. If your going to have BBQ, you may also have requests for Potato salad, Cole Slaw that need to be pepped in a approved facility. You need to understand the process of cooking and catering when you deal with the public. Hot foods need to be cooked to the proper temp (depending of the meat item) all leftover or precooked foods need to be reheated to 160 degrees and held at 140 degrees. All your cold salads, dressings and things like that need to be kept cold after preparing, transporting, and during the service. There is more to being a Caterer than just making good BBQ, you need to know how to hold your quality BBQ meats in Chafing dishes so they dont dry out, how to cook and hold your ribs so your customer gets the best quality product.

      The HD will let you know what you needed to satisfy their needs, you may only need a commissary, and not have to rent a kitchen for the whole month, when you only need it a few days a month. The rules and requirements for each State and County are different, only your HD can tell you what will work for you in your area.................Take care, good luck with your new endeavor
     
  6. oldfoodguy

    oldfoodguy

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    Smokin', Chef Billy is dead on with his advice. You will als want to look into food service sanitation certification and some basic liabilty coverage. Weekend catering may seem fun, but the types of foods you are describing and the environments you will be working in all add  up to very high risk. Prepared salads, smoked meats, warm temperatures, outdoor venues without refrigeration are challenges for even experienced caterers.  
     
  7. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Heed Chef Billy's advice because Heaven forbid you have any kind of contamination outbreak, youy can be sued, and ruined for the rest of your life.
     
  8. fstfrdy

    fstfrdy

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    Welcome to the world of BBQ CATERING.. We have been doiing this for bout 7 years now. \i am the Director of the local FOOD BANK and this effort is a huge fund raiser for us. We got all info nessasary from the local health authority. \in our case they gave a list of conditions ie tents cleanable counter/tables sanitation unit, etc. We serve all things BBQ from burgers to whole hogs. But the local health cops are our friend I do what they say and we have not had an incedent or formal complaint in 7 years.
     
  9. trooper

    trooper

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    You can rent space in a shared commercial kitchen (Hourly, weekly. monthly) - For a mobile catering unit - such as your BBQ - you may get special event/nomad permits for each event - based on the county/state health rules in your area. Your biggest problem is that BBQ is not a "Packaged Food" - but it is indeed an "Open Air" food. That makes it a little easier.

    At minimum, you need to engage with what is known as a commisary - Nothing more than a place you will pay to drop any grease, waste water and food-waste. This is not only a mandatory requirement, but a good one as well - because your home is not the place to be discarding such waste, right?

    You don't have to "Check-in" every day to meet health code, but you will probably be expected to keep logs of when you do catering service - and those days should reconcile with the commissary check-in and drop-off times for those days.

    You will have to use a rented/shared commercial kitchen for prep no matter what. Even if you are going to CostCo and getting fifty primals and chickens - you can't just go from packaged retail product to smoker in the parking lot or your drive way.

    With event catering you have to have a sanitation plan for every area you work. This is most commonly a plan that tells the health department you have access to a bathroom, or an agreement with a near-by business that says you can use their bathroom.

    What can really be the biggest pain is if they have a sanitation minimum fresh/gray/black water storage requirement and/or 3+1+1 sink requirement and/or three-walls enclosed/non-open air requirement.... the list goes on and on - But your local regs will tell you exactly what is expected.

    In the most likely sense: You will get licensed, certified and file special event permits for every catering gig as an open-air/caravan station.

    Let us know how it works out - and all the best success to you !!