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Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses. this forum is OnTopic. A resource to help with catering, vending and just cooking for large parties. Topics to include Getting Started, Ethics, Marketing, Catering resources, Formulas and recipes for cooking for large groups.


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Unread 09-22-2009, 12:51 AM   #1
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Hey all,

My wife has always talked about going into the catering biz. So I have been thinking that a BBA catering biz would make us both happy. Now I realize off the bat that we have a long way to go, but wanted to see if there was any advice to be had.

I have been doing BBQ for a little over a year. I started with a Weber kettle and then built a UDS this past spring. I still have a ways to go in terms of perfecting the process, but so far everything that I have made has come out really well and everyone that I give it to goes on and on about it.

Should we try to get into some competition BBQ or should we just keep cooking at home and developing the craft.

Any and all advice (I think) is appreciated.
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Unread 09-22-2009, 02:38 AM   #2
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Best of luck. It is a tuff business I have been doing it for a few years now, but I still have another job to keep me a float when times get tough. Stick with it my friend, I am sure some other caterers will chime in
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Unread 09-22-2009, 08:28 AM   #3
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You have homework: http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=51391
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Unread 09-22-2009, 01:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by big brother smoke View Post

Thanks Big Brother. I had already been reading all those posts. I think my main question is should my first goal be to participate in BBQ comps? Just wondered if this would be the best route to develop my cooking.


Thanks
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Unread 09-22-2009, 02:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smoke-eater View Post
Thanks Big Brother. I had already been reading all those posts. I think my main question is should my first goal be to participate in BBQ comps? Just wondered if this would be the best route to develop my cooking.


Thanks
I am sure that you will get several different points of view on this, and here is mine. I feel that Competeing and catering are 2 different animals. I cook different for both. In a Comp you are trying to wow the judge on 1 or 2 bites. So you have to hit them with a lot of flavor at one time. I have also found that their is an "expected" taste when it comes to comps, at least in Michigan. Ribs have to be sugary sweet with lots of sauce, chicken has to have lots of sauce. The pork has to have lots of sauce, we will just leave brisket alone.

Now for catering I am cooking more for the general taste, not a one bite explosion of flavor. I personally think that my catering food is better than my comp food.

Starting in comps is not a bad way to start, and I actually would recommend doing as many comps as you can as you will learn time managment and how you will do under pressure. But the old adage applys here as well: Practice,Practice,Practice....
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Unread 09-22-2009, 03:20 PM   #6
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What Mike said...whole heartedly agree.
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Unread 09-22-2009, 04:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
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What Mike said...whole heartedly agree.
+2 Catering and Competition are like the North and South Pole.
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Unread 09-22-2009, 06:08 PM   #8
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You might also look into aquiring a larger pit. Not gonna cook for many on a drum.
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Unread 09-22-2009, 06:23 PM   #9
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I can't offer you much advice on which way to go, for I too am in the fog of trying to get started...Only if you decide to give it a go...I wish you all the luck......

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Unread 09-22-2009, 06:30 PM   #10
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I got a pretty good nugget of advice on this subject a while back that has served me pretty well to this point... It was (paraphrasing) "Cater! Cater often and make money. Use that money to fund the competition team."

It has kind of been my mindset...

Good luck though, it's tough but quite rewarding.
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Unread 09-22-2009, 06:33 PM   #11
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After just one competition (but many years of cooking for parties and such)- I can offer this:

If you haven't ran a restaurant or catered before, I would highly recommend doing as many competitions as you can. Many allow you to get a vendors license to sell your Q at the festival.

You will get a much better bang for your investment buck in getting used to cooking for crowds, timelines, people's tastes, etc at the competitions/festivals, than you would just going straight into the BBQ biz.

If you're long term goal is to open a catering biz, then focus on those aspects during the competitions, if you happen to get a call, well that's even better.

My two cents
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Unread 09-22-2009, 06:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jshepwnc View Post
After just one competition (but many years of cooking for parties and such)- I can offer this:

If you haven't ran a restaurant or catered before, I would highly recommend doing as many competitions as you can. Many allow you to get a vendors license to sell your Q at the festival.

You will get a much better bang for your investment buck in getting used to cooking for crowds, timelines, people's tastes, etc at the competitions/festivals, than you would just going straight into the BBQ biz.

If you're long term goal is to open a catering biz, then focus on those aspects during the competitions, if you happen to get a call, well that's even better.

My two cents
That's worth much more than that!!! Great post!
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Unread 09-23-2009, 07:12 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jshepwnc View Post
After just one competition (but many years of cooking for parties and such)- I can offer this:

If you haven't ran a restaurant or catered before, I would highly recommend doing as many competitions as you can. Many allow you to get a vendors license to sell your Q at the festival.

You will get a much better bang for your investment buck in getting used to cooking for crowds, timelines, people's tastes, etc at the competitions/festivals, than you would just going straight into the BBQ biz.

If you're long term goal is to open a catering biz, then focus on those aspects during the competitions, if you happen to get a call, well that's even better.

My two cents
I've competed for 10 years and just this year started vending. I can do a contest by myself with no problems and have timing down to a science. But throw in vending and timing all goes to heck and you need lots of comp experience to recover. If you're the least bit serious about competing then don't try to vend until you have the trophies already in the case.

Now you could just vend instead. I recently saw one vendor who I'm sure was using foil pans of pulled pork from a local supply company. The ribs were terrible but he sold for a low price and people bought them at least early in the day. If firends and neighbors like your food today and keep coming back when you cook then you already know how to prepare vending food.

If you're serious about a BBQ business then trophies and awards do make a difference when it comes to advertising. If you plan on part time catering for friends as in unlicensed then it's not so big a deal.
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Unread 09-23-2009, 08:30 AM   #14
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Ford: I think we agree that competition and vending are far different animals.

You went from competing to vending, I was merely suggesting competitions as a way for them to get indoctrinated into the BBQ biz.

If their primary goal is to vend, and not to win trophys, then there is no reason for them to spend the farm on equipment to compete. They can simply take a WSM or two, or a decent offset, and experience a taste of both competing & vending without sinking a lot of dough (as much as they will when they decide to open a BBQ catering biz) into it.

However, I bow to your wisdom on the competing side. If you going to get serious about competing, then focus on competing - no doubt!
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