PDA

View Full Version : Outlaw caterers beware!


Kevin
10-12-2006, 06:05 PM
Just want to relate an experience that I had recently. I was asked to cook for a wedding reception for about 200. I've done such events many times for friends in the past and all went well. This was for a friend's niece that I don't know. Didn't feel comfortable cooking for complete strangers so I declined. I don't have current serve safe certification. Got no insurance for this stuff either. The whole thing just didn't feel right.

Boy did I dodge a bullet. Approximately 80 people got food poisoning at the event. They haven't determined the source of the bug yet. The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating. I'm sure of my cooking skills and safe food handling practices but that would not protect me from being lumped in with the food prepared by others. I think I'll just cook at home for my family until I procur the proper certification and insurance.

butts
10-12-2006, 06:45 PM
I'll be the first to call you out...I'f you're not a caterer then don't try to be one. If you don't have a proper kitchen, health inspections, insurance, etc..., then don't sell your services. Anytime you "act" as a caterer you low ball real caterers and make the industry more expensive for the legit businesses. Cook for your friends and neighbors, but you are not allowed to sell anything without the proper foundation.:mad:

Sorry, not trying to be harse here but that's the way it is.

Kevin
10-12-2006, 07:34 PM
Not sure where that came from. I have owned and operated a restaraunt. Been certified and insured in the past. And as I said, I DID NOT cook for this. I was just making the comment that one should not do so unless you do meet the proper requirements.

minijosh
10-12-2006, 07:35 PM
Those people must have eaten nothing but salad. That's the new virus spreader hehe.

bbqjoe
10-12-2006, 08:42 PM
Good call Kevin!!!
You certainly brought out a perfect example of what could happen!!!

HoDeDo
10-12-2006, 08:55 PM
I'll be the first to call you out...I'f you're not a caterer then don't try to be one. If you don't have a proper kitchen, health inspections, insurance, etc..., then don't sell your services. Anytime you "act" as a caterer you low ball real caterers and make the industry more expensive for the legit businesses. Cook for your friends and neighbors, but you are not allowed to sell anything without the proper foundation.:mad:

Sorry, not trying to be harse here but that's the way it is.

Actually, it doesnt have to be that way.... there are many carnivals/shows/fairs that allow you to get a temporary permit, and health dept. approval and sell away. Most don't require insurance, either -- however I wouldnt suggest cooking without a specific policy, or an umbrella policy that covers your wares. Many places have different rules for outfits that only cook onsite as well.... that is how many "Chris Cakes" are able to run out of a truck, vs. a kitchen/commisary.
Lots of great info in alot of the threads and polls in this forum. Joe and team have put a heck of alot of great info out there. I think all of us strive to do the best we can, and the addition of the Food Handling and Awareness forum is chocked full of good detail, for anyone looking to have proper food safety - cooking for neighbors, or for a wedding.

bbqjoe
10-12-2006, 09:01 PM
The point here is that Kevin doesn't currently possess any current certification.
Had he gone ahead with the cook, it is highly possible he could have been cited or sucked into any possible lawsuit that may arise.

Jeff_in_KC
10-12-2006, 09:02 PM
As someone who has sold some BBQ in the past, I am a bit miffed at the "Anytime you "act" as a caterer you low ball real caterers and make the industry more expensive for the legit businesses" comment. I haven't "low balled" anyone. I'm too proud of my product to do that. You probably ought to get to know some of the guys here before you make such generalizations.

big brother smoke
10-12-2006, 09:58 PM
I'll be the first to call you out...I'f you're not a caterer then don't try to be one. If you don't have a proper kitchen, health inspections, insurance, etc..., then don't sell your services. Anytime you "act" as a caterer you low ball real caterers and make the industry more expensive for the legit businesses. Cook for your friends and neighbors, but you are not allowed to sell anything without the proper foundation.:mad:

Sorry, not trying to be harse here but that's the way it is.


FWIW, it is nice to feel that you can think out loud with brothers and not be flamed, so to speak!

butts
10-12-2006, 10:18 PM
Sorry Kevin and brothers,

I didn't mean to call anyone out. Locally we have a lot of people who are not legit that take business from those of us who are. That's all I was trying to get across. I'm sorry that I ranted on those that I shouldn't have.

Arlin_MacRae
10-13-2006, 08:57 AM
Sorry Kevin and brothers,

I didn't mean to call anyone out. Locally we have a lot of people who are not legit that take business from those of us who are. That's all I was trying to get across. I'm sorry that I ranted on those that I shouldn't have.

Aye, I think he was saying what you wanted him to say in the first place!

How's that go? Breathe. ;)

tony76248
10-13-2006, 10:53 AM
I can definately tell you this, commercial kitchens are the source of more ill prepared, ill handled food than any weekend caterer. I know in Texas there are many of us who will cater an event for a friend or family member at cost. We will pour our heart and soul into it too.
Most commercial caterers will also prepare menus that are profitable and dependable to their financial success. But being that this is the land of opportunity, you have to take it.
I doubt very much whether a lot of parties would even have food if folks had to depend on paying for a commercial kitchen to provide the food. Weekend unlicensed caterers make it possible to provide food to your friends at such events.
I do understand that there is a certain amount liability that comes with doing such a thing. I am also glad it has been addressed here. That said, if you have a passion for what you are doing, look into what the health dept requires of you and decide whether you think it is worth it. Also, I would say that the majority of the catering businesses in my neck of the woods may be cleared in their restaurants, but I would imagine that their catered events are not cleared the same way if at all. You all know what I mean. I worked in the food service industry for three years and know that a temp health cert is handed out for the taking.
So get a good umbrella policy or make sure you keep your business isolated from your personal life.

bbqjoe
10-13-2006, 10:58 AM
Dear Brothers,
This is a very sensitive area. Some us of own and operate legitimate food service operations.

Others dabble, toy, and experiment with the possibilities of going into business for themselves.

There is sometimes a fine line between cooking for a group of friends, and actually performing a catering service.
Where that line begins and ends is sometimes only up to local ordinances and requirements. It is best for you to look at the many aspects before venturing into such endevours.

As I have tried to convey to everyone here, there are great dangers in the food handling industry and at home.

Kevin has pointed out one very real danger. A danger so real, that lives, property, and reputation as well as other things could be lost.

Most all of us think our "Q" is the best in the world. And when people tell us just that, it is overwhelmingly one of the most beautiful things to the ear.

Thoughts of grandour and fame quickly leap into our minds. The prospect of making some money doing something we love so much, is beyond alluring.
It is intoxicating.

And it is this that makes it so important to follow proper procedures and guidelines when considering any catering proposition.

Kevin averted possible disaster by following a gut instinct. Others might not be so lucky to have such skills, and or to follow them.
It may not even been his food that caused illness, but he would have been "Grouped" with everyone who did provide food, until at least some scientific studying proved who the culpret was.

But there probably will always be conflict on this subject of whether something is catering or not. Whether a permit or license is needed, or if insurance is required etc.

It is up to you to find these things out, and proceed accordingly. Period.

big brother smoke
10-13-2006, 11:08 AM
Dear Brothers,
This is a very sensitive area. Some us of own and operate legitimate food service operations.

Others dabble, toy, and experiment with the possibilities of going into business for themselves.

There is sometimes a fine line between cooking for a group of friends, and actually performing a catering service.
Where that line begins and ends is sometimes only up to local ordinances and requirements. It is best for you to look at the many aspects before venturing into such endevours.

As I have tried to convey to everyone here, there are great dangers in the food handling industry and at home.

Kevin has pointed out one very real danger. A danger so real, that lives, property, and reputation as well as other things could be lost.

Most all of us think our "Q" is the best in the world. And when people tell us just that, it is overwhelmingly one of the most beautiful things to the ear.

Thoughts of grandour and fame quickly leap into our minds. The prospect of making some money doing something we love so much, is beyond alluring.
It is intoxicating.

And it is this that makes it so important to follow proper procedures and guidelines when considering any catering proposition.

Kevin averted possible disaster by following a gut instinct. Others might not be so lucky to have such skills, and or to follow them.
It may not even been his food that caused illness, but he would have been "Grouped" with everyone who did provide food, until at least some scientific studying proved who the culpret was.

But there probably will always be conflict on this subject of whether something is catering or not. Whether a permit or license is needed, or if insurance is required etc.

It is up to you to find these things out, and proceed accordingly. Period.

Well said!

HoDeDo
10-13-2006, 11:29 AM
As I alluded to earlier.... Thanks Joe for kicking off the Food Handling forum and giving us a great place to start looking for the answers. You statements are right on. As always, I appreciate your clarity...

scottyd
10-15-2006, 08:56 AM
abide by your states codes, weather it is the temp cert or a cert kitchen, get some insurance. Protect your family.

Wine & Swine
10-15-2006, 04:11 PM
Just A quick note, my two cents. I have worked in the food business for nearly ten years and some of the worst health code violations have been in some of NY's best restaurants. It doesn't take much to make people sick. A true story I tell all the time; My wife works for a large (one of the biggest) ad agencies in the country. The head of her NY office (real big wig who we have known for 9 years) had a 32 year old son (a lawyer) with a severe peanut allergy. He was going to dinner with friends a few years ago, he called ahead re: his allergy. He notified the staff, waiter, etc on arrival/ordering. He was assured everything was taken care of. He finished dinner, didn't feel well, got in a cab to go home. He died in the taxi from cross contamination. I have seen the same thing happen to my customers (probably 3 ambulances), whether it was a waiter or a line cook it doesn't matter, period, you are responsible.
John

Arlin_MacRae
10-16-2006, 09:46 AM
Dang, John, that must have been rough...

HoDeDo
10-16-2006, 09:51 AM
That is an extreme, but accurate example, Thanks man. The devil is in the details...

NorthernQ
10-20-2006, 11:36 AM
Excellent thread and my thanks as well to Joe for this forum. It has been a great help to me.
Just an afterthought on the risks involved in catering business. If folks become ill at an event where food is catered as well as home prepared, you know who will catch the blame. Aunt Martha's potato salad or anything close will never be suspected.
Many caterers will refuse a job where food will also be prepared by others regardless of their credentials.

brian j
10-20-2006, 03:18 PM
can you guys define "catering" and/or "caterer"? if i'm cooking pulled pork and brisket for a picnic being hosted by a club i'm a member of and they reemburse me only for the cost of the meat, in my mind this is not catering or a caterer. correct?

NorthernQ
10-20-2006, 04:06 PM
can you guys define "catering" and/or "caterer"? if i'm cooking pulled pork and brisket for a picnic being hosted by a club i'm a member of and they reemburse me only for the cost of the meat, in my mind this is not catering or a caterer. correct?

By my definition, you are not a caterer under those conditions. You would be another food "contributor" for the event.

Doorbusters
10-24-2006, 03:32 PM
As someone who has sold some BBQ in the past, I am a bit miffed at the "Anytime you "act" as a caterer you low ball real caterers and make the industry more expensive for the legit businesses" comment. I haven't "low balled" anyone. I'm too proud of my product to do that. You probably ought to get to know some of the guys here before you make such generalizations.

Well spoken Jeff!

The Woodman
10-24-2006, 05:29 PM
I am not certain I am grasping what occurred. If you had taken this job, isn't it probable that these people would not have gotten sick? Were there multiple caterers doing this job? I would definitely recommend purchasing insurance, but in most cases here in Ohio, you can work either with no permit (if the guests are not paying a fee and all food is prepared on-site), or with a temporary permit (the guests are paying a fee and the food is being prepared on-site.) The key here is, YOU ARE PREPARING ALL FOOD ON-SITE. A great deal of food-borne illness comes from the transitional temps food often experiences in transport. Your kitchen can be the bestest, most cleanest kitchen in the state, but if you leave the ribs in 90 degree heat in tupperware in the back of a step-van for 5 hours, you might have illnesses. When I get a temp. permit, they always check:

1) How am I keeping cold food cold ( Coolers with plenty of ice)
2) How am I keeping hot food hot (Upright on the pit)
3) Thermo Calibration
4) Handwash station
5) Wash , rinse, sanitize tubs.

I Also think, in response to Butts, to which he so eloquently apologized, that the "legitimate" caterers are the ones who are usually "lowballing." I cook two meats, two sides, dessert for $15.00 /person. Smokey Bones provides similar (leftovers) for about $7.00! Difference is, mine is fresh, and I come with it! Go get em! Woody

kickassbbq
10-25-2006, 03:56 PM
In MANY states, if you are catering a Private Party you DO NOT need to have a license from the Health Department.
You MUST cook ON SITE.
So, all I do is Private Parties. I go in, smoke their meat, get the check and leave.
I do not Low Ball. I charge 75.00 per hour with a 6 hour minimum and they pay for ALL meats. My only cost is for my wood and fuel for the truck.
If I can't make 500.00 for smokin' meat, I ain't doing it.
I have insurance and I have never gotten sick from cooking or made anyone else sick and I have been cooking for 40 years.
I do agree that it can happen that someone can get sick and blame you, so be careful and keep insurance.
So, I do not compete with caterer's in the area. They provide a complete service, I don't.
I don't serve, clean up, take soda pop, forks, spoons, deserts or plates. I smoke meat, that's it!!!!!!!!!!!!!
PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Smoke On!!!!!!!

chris1281982
11-10-2006, 08:44 PM
How do you feel if someone came to you and offered you an amount of money to smoke meats for them? What kind of legal issues would there be since you are not a caterer, you're just a regular person with a smoker that enjoys BBQ'ing.

Chris

bbqjoe
11-10-2006, 11:29 PM
Chris, this is a sensitive issue, and it has been discussed quite a bit. You might try a search here on catering, but will probably get tons of threads.
The short and sweet of it is:
1. Will your insurance cover you and all involved if someone becomes ill from your product?
2. Are you willing to lose everything you have in a lawsuit in order to make a few bucks?

There are many other issues, too many to list. Look around, see what comes up.

chris1281982
11-11-2006, 12:39 PM
Thanks for the input, I will stick cooking for the family until I find more info about this subject. I will check with the local and state laws so that I can get more serious about cooking for people.

Is there any type of permit that you have to get before a BBQ contest?

Thanks

Chris

Kung Fu BBQ
11-11-2006, 03:17 PM
Thanks for the input, I will stick cooking for the family until I find more info about this subject. I will check with the local and state laws so that I can get more serious about cooking for people.

Is there any type of permit that you have to get before a BBQ contest?

Thanks

Chris

Contests are a different monster. If you're just cooking FOR the contest then there is nothing you have to do.