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View Full Version : Opinions on Competition/Catering Pits


TailGateJoecom
10-26-2012, 12:07 AM
Hey guys, been reading this site for a while, and taking some classes.

I run a pretty large NFL fan club/tailgate party that sees 250-350 people per game. Generally, I cook on some big ass propane grills, you can see which ones in my sig. I mostly do grill items for these events, not slow and low bbq, due to time constraints of NFL tailgating guidelines.

When I do smoke, I usually use my WSM, although i know it goes against everyone's beliefs around here I have used my Crown Veritys with smoker box attachments to turn out some decent pulled pork. MY problem is the WSM doesn't have the capacity I need when I make dishes for my tailgate parties. I need something bigger, and easier to use in the winter, especially since I like to go hot and fast at 300-325 sometimes.

ALSO...
Like I said in the beginning, I have been taking classes, and I am planning on doing a bunch of comps this spring/summer, most likely the NY state ones for the most part and see how that goes by the end of the summer. I would like a good smoker that I could use for both decent volume cooking as well as comp bbq.

I am pretty sure I want a vertical smoker, and I want it to be insulated. I have a 7.5x16 trailer already, so I can haul whatever I get for comps. So far I am leaning heavily to the FEC120 and the Pitmaker Vault. Quality and durability are very important, and aesthetics do matter a little too, especially for the tailgate parties.

I know the stigma of "pellet poopers" with the FEC120, but I like the ease of use for cooking ahead of gameday when I am so busy getting everything else ready. It would be really nice to pop in a bunch of butts and have them ready when I wake up at 6am on Sunday, ready to go fresh from the smoker. The FEC120 is my choice if I lead more toward the tailgate portion of my needs I think.

The Pitmaker looks like an amazingly well built pit, and with one of those paint jobs and graphics would look great at my parties. I think this one would get the edge for comps as it would have better smoke density and while not as simple to set and forget as the FEC, is still pretty easy to work with as it is very efficient.

So, anyone have any thoughts either way?

smokinit
10-26-2012, 07:16 AM
Have you considered Backwoods at all? I have used them in catering,vending and comps and its hard to beat their track record for comps. Brethren discounts also dont hurt:becky:. But seriously pm me if you want to chat.

dmprantz
10-26-2012, 07:33 AM
I'm not REALLY sure what your question is, but FEC-100s are very popular on the competition circuit. Insulated, and from what I understand can cook a whole comp or enough pulled pork for 200. The FEC0-120 has an extra shelf so can cook for 250. Backwoods, Pitmaker, and Spicewine all have models that can do about the same. Stumps, TNT, Rebel, Superior, DW, etc also have models that can do that. They will have a slightly different taste on the finished product (pellets vs charcoal), but that's what some people like about them.

Looks like your a bit lost, since no one as seen your location for the last few weeks. Go Dolphins:)

dmp

lazyjacres
10-26-2012, 07:39 AM
This is an awesome pit, but a little pricey. You can cook a ton of meat, and they are great competition units as well.
I competed on a larger version in an Ole Hickory for years. Put the meat on and go to bed, competition or catering.

http://www.southern-pride.com/_new/products/product-details.php?smokerID=SPX-300&category=gas

jbrink01
10-26-2012, 07:42 AM
I have pellet pits and swear by them for catering (FEC500's). Competed on an FEC100 last year and finished 13th in TOY Pork, so they are great. I am competing on a Rebel 28 this year and had 4 GC's and 1st place pork at the AR. My point is, if you want to take a class or 2 and practice hard, you can win on anything. I like the food off of the Rebel better, and I've had better reults but thats just me.

Cast Iron Chef
10-26-2012, 10:22 AM
Honest question on the FEC and not trying to cause a controversy. I'm looking in that direction for catering some day but I am confused about competing. I thought the heat source had to be wood or charcoal? I know it burns pellets but isn't the heat source electrical?

Ron_L
10-26-2012, 11:07 AM
Honest question on the FEC and not trying to cause a controversy. I'm looking in that direction for catering some day but I am confused about competing. I thought the heat source had to be wood or charcoal? I know it burns pellets but isn't the heat source electrical?


Nope. The only electric heating element is used for starting the fire and it is on only during the first 4 minutes. after that all heat is provided by the buying pellets, which are wood.

TailGateJoecom
10-26-2012, 11:39 AM
I'm not REALLY sure what your question is, but FEC-100s are very popular on the competition circuit. Insulated, and from what I understand can cook a whole comp or enough pulled pork for 200. The FEC0-120 has an extra shelf so can cook for 250. Backwoods, Pitmaker, and Spicewine all have models that can do about the same. Stumps, TNT, Rebel, Superior, DW, etc also have models that can do that. They will have a slightly different taste on the finished product (pellets vs charcoal), but that's what some people like about them.

Looks like your a bit lost, since no one as seen your location for the last few weeks. Go Dolphins:)

dmp

Was really just trying to solicit opinions on the smokers mentioned as to how they would fare for my needs as well as any suggestions for other smokers that may fit the bill.

Oh, and Revis Island is out of season right now, but there will still be a Phish fry this Sunday.

TailGateJoecom
10-26-2012, 11:40 AM
This is an awesome pit, but a little pricey. You can cook a ton of meat, and they are great competition units as well.
I competed on a larger version in an Ole Hickory for years. Put the meat on and go to bed, competition or catering.

http://www.southern-pride.com/_new/products/product-details.php?smokerID=SPX-300&category=gas

Yeah, nice but probably a bit out of my price range.

TailGateJoecom
10-26-2012, 11:43 AM
Have you considered Backwoods at all? I have used them in catering,vending and comps and its hard to beat their track record for comps. Brethren discounts also dont hurt:becky:. But seriously pm me if you want to chat.

I'll look over the site and check them out.

dmprantz
10-27-2012, 10:07 AM
Honestly, if you're looking to make pulled pork for 350 people, I don't think the FEC-120 is up to the task. I just saw one in person yesterday, and as cool as it is, I don't think it's large enough. You might wanna talk to Jeff about the FEC-500 and get opinions, or maybe the Traeger commercial cooker. What you'd be looking for is 4-5 racks, 23x26. Look at what the various manufacturors offer in that size range. As it turn out, I think that my pit can do it, though I've never loaded that much on it. Mine's a custom built pit, but I was just talking to the guys at Yoder yesterday, and they said that they could do a custom version of the Stockton that would be very similar to mine, and I think that could probably handle what you want, even though they only say 16 pork butts on the web page. This would allow you to get wood smoke flavor and still get sleep at comps and before vendings. The downsides of that pit (and mine) are that it's heavy, difficult to transport, will use more pellets than an insulated pit, and won't be as even resulting in the bottom meat finishing up first (which isn't always a bad thing). Lots of options out there, all depending on what you want.

dmp

TailGateJoecom
10-27-2012, 04:43 PM
Honestly, if you're looking to make pulled pork for 350 people, I don't think the FEC-120 is up to the task. I just saw one in person yesterday, and as cool as it is, I don't think it's large enough. You might wanna talk to Jeff about the FEC-500 and get opinions, or maybe the Traeger commercial cooker. What you'd be looking for is 4-5 racks, 23x26. Look at what the various manufacturors offer in that size range. As it turn out, I think that my pit can do it, though I've never loaded that much on it. Mine's a custom built pit, but I was just talking to the guys at Yoder yesterday, and they said that they could do a custom version of the Stockton that would be very similar to mine, and I think that could probably handle what you want, even though they only say 16 pork butts on the web page. This would allow you to get wood smoke flavor and still get sleep at comps and before vendings. The downsides of that pit (and mine) are that it's heavy, difficult to transport, will use more pellets than an insulated pit, and won't be as even resulting in the bottom meat finishing up first (which isn't always a bad thing). Lots of options out there, all depending on what you want.

dmp

Thanks for the input, definitely will tkae it into consideration. I do think the capacity will be ok as I do cook for up to 350, but the pulled pork is always just one of a bunch of dishes we serve, so it isn't like I need a 1/4 or half lb per person, 8 shoulders is usually more than enough. We usually build sliders and hand them out that way to portion control it a little bit. Here is how we serve them....
http://www.tailgatejoe.com/wp-content/uploads/tailgatejoepulledporkrecipe3.jpg

http://www.tailgatejoe.com/wp-content/uploads/tailgatejoepulledporkrecipe2.jpg

http://www.tailgatejoe.com/wp-content/uploads/tailgatejoepulledporkrecipe5.jpg