Originally Posted by Hardluck
I have done a handfull of cooks for money but im entering in to a world I know nothing about. I was asked to set up at a local festival that is pretty big. I need to know the best way to hold my food at safe temp without drying or overcooking(butts and ribs). also best way to hold slaw? on ice ot in a refrig? I have no idea how much food to even cook? I may be in over my head here... any help would be great!...
I have already talked to local health department,My Insurance company and state IRS. and I will be insured with liscense and HD inspected before I start!
We also started out at a festival and had no prior experience so I feel your pain.
Holding cold food: As stated earlier a non-commercial refrigerator will not recover temp fast enough if opened frequently. This can create a hazard for cold items. Since you already spoke with your HD I am assuming they have approved the use of the non-commercial fridge. They should be able to give you information on what types of cold-hold methods you can use at a festival. That is where we got our information for our event. The HD official spelled out what equipment could and could not be used. The issue you run into with ice is that the food product cannot come in direct contact with the ice or there is a risk of cross contamination.
Holding hot food: We use commercial counter top warmers. This link shows the brand/model we use. http://tinyurl.com/kfmro4o
We use one of these for pork and one for brisket with full-size 5" deep restaurant pans. This makes it easy to fill new pans and drop them in as needed. We use a third unit with two half-size 5" deep pans to serve sides from. This assumes you have electricity available at your booth. For bulk holding we use our Backwoods Smoker Competitors to cook and keep bulk product ready for the hot/hold pans. As mentioned by another Brother earlier we also only pull/cut what will fit in our hot/hold units unless the pace is quick and then we will pull/cut extra and cover the pans with foil and keep them in one of the Competitors. Pulled pork/brisket is the best type of item to serve at festivals since it makes into a sandwich and the consumer finds this easier to handle while moving around the festival grounds. I wish you well on serving ribs at this type of event. We tried it one time and have never done it again. Too many variables for us to contend with so it just wasn't worth it. And the profit margin was much lower also. I am not attempting to discourage you from serving ribs but just be aware of the extra effort for less profit that this type item brings in a festival setting.
Amount of meats to cook: As others have wisely stated this is somewhat of a crap shoot. IF the event does not have any quantity requirements (yes, some actually do) and IF the event does not state that you must not run out before a specific length of time (yes, some do that also) then I suggest that you cook to run out the first day and then adjust up for successive days. It is better to sell out than to have to waste product. As others have stated you should do your due diligence by talking to the event coordinators, any other vendors that you can contact, etc to try to ascertain how many people they expect to attend. What percent of that total that will purchase from you is a factor of how many other food vendors, that sell similar products to yours, that will be there. You can adjust your prep for the following days based on the first days sales.
Sides: We sell Cole Slaw, Smoked Baked Beans & Country Creamed Corn. We prepackage a set amount of these items, just prior to service beginning, in 6oz Dart styrofoam cups (w/lids) and pack them into coolers. (with a 1/4" air gap at the top of the cup there is only approx 4 oz servings in these cups) One cooler (with ice in the bottom) for the Cole Slaw and one cooler for the Beans/Corn. As the numbers are drawn down by sales we replace with more packages filled from our Hot/Hold table top unit. The event we do annually brings in approx 3-4 thousand people and we sell approx 300 "meals" during a 6 hour period. It is a one day event. We usually prepackage 30 cups of Beans & Corn, and approx 60 cups of slaw due to, to start the service. We are cooking corn and beans during the event so that is why we prepackage less of these items. The slaw is made ahead and therefore can be prepackaged in more of a bulk fashion.
If you are selling beverages stick to bottled water unless you have a source that will take back canned beverages that you don't sell. Otherwise you may end up with a LOT of soda to drink at home over the following months.
It feels like I just wrote a novel. LOL I hope this helps in some small fashion.
Let us know how it turns out!!