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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 06-13-2012, 03:51 PM   #1
Redheart
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Well, it seems that all my hard work starting up 2 BBQ joints and revamping another over the past year has not gone in vain. Today I was offered a position as KM and Chef for a new restaurant opening around 1 August call Southern Buffet and Grill. The owner was originally going to do a traditional Southern buffet but when he say my resume he decided that 'Q' needed to be part of the menu.
He wants to go fresh and from scratch. So I don't have to convince him that collard greens should be cooked fresh and not from a can, and mashed potatoes are made several times a day from fresh boiled potatoes & cream and not from a powder.

So what is the dilemma you might ask? Well, to be truthfully honest I have only limited experience with buffet style dining. I have done many catered events and those are pretty easy to plan, produce and make profit because the unknowns such as how many serving of what are virtually eliminated because they customer is buying so many of such and such meats, sides, drinks etc. The other issue is keeping things like brisket and pork from drying out and ribs from over cooking while on the service line, amongst other things, yet alone how to keep a smoked chicken quarter from getting rubbery skin while sitting in a hotel pan on the line.

So I am hoping some of you wonderful Brethren and Sistren out there have some experience in these matter and can offer a few suggestions, preferably based on experience, that might help me over come these hurdles as I begin planning the service and cook lines as well as the menu.

If you have no experience in this area, I would still love all of your help in planning the menu, keeping in mind that it is not just a BBQ joint but a Southern style buffet. So in order to plan this menu I figured I could get some real good suggestions from ALL of you. Because as far as foodies go, there are none better then the Brethren. So if you have a favorite traditional Southern food that you feel would be a great item on a buffet, whether it be a protein, starch, side or dessert please let me know.

Thanks for your thoughtful input in advance.

Don't worry guys I will let you know when and where this new restaurant will be after we take possession of the space later this month.
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Unread 06-13-2012, 04:17 PM   #2
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Congratulations on the new posting, I wish you all the success you can grab.

Out here, there is a place that does a lot of BBQ catering, one thing they do is strongly encourage the use of a carving station. They do charge more for this, but, it is the easiest way to keep meats that are to be sliced fresh and appetizing. By having one counter dedicated to carving meats, and I hate when it is not a seperate counter, the meats do not get dry.

It also is a subtle way of controlling portioning, otherwise folks over-serve on the meats. I have seen this over and over, folks load up on meat, then leave it. By having them get served, there is some self-moderating that goes on. My SIL, a notorious over-server, hates having carving station, as she is too self-concious to want to look piggish.

My other observation is, that over-cooked chicken is a good way to go, the skin render to the point it stay tender. The meat, especially if you brine, stays tender and usually moist. Supermarket chicken style cooking really helps on the fundraiser buffets I advise on.
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Unread 06-13-2012, 05:00 PM   #3
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You know I had not thought about a oven cooked or a rotisserie style chicken. Great idea!

I have thought about a carving station as the existing restaurant currently has a char-broiling and carving station up front. My worries are impeding flow, especially at lunch rush, thus resulting in longer turn arounds. But, now that you bring it up, I can't see why a carver could not be carving and a server portioning and serving during the heavy rush times. Thanks for the advice.

Bob, I knew when I posted this you would respond with some great advice. Thanks for not disappointing me or the other Brethren. In your honour I may just have to add some fish sauce to my glazes and marinades in lieu of Worcestershire.

Got any favorite Southern foods you think I should put out?
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Unread 06-13-2012, 05:52 PM   #4
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Well, oddly, I happen to like a few things I consider Southern food. One of them, I consider needed is good collards. I prefer them made with smoked bones and not a lot of meat. I know that sounds crazy, but, I learned to like collards from poor folks, and there was not a lot of meat. And I like lima beans, especially in what I know as succotash with corn, peas, pimento pieces. Now, more for dinner, I happen to like smothered stuff, doesn't matter what, pork, chicken or shrimp, smothered is good.

BTW, yes, there are two things I have found that will slow down a buffet line. A carving station at the end of a line and a dessert station at the end of a line. Oh, a tip on the whole dessert thing, make the servings small and plate them up or cut them up ahead of time. This allows women to pick up several items to 'taste' without their subdividing things. Also reduces the need to choose between desserts. This will keep your line moving.
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Unread 06-13-2012, 06:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landarc View Post
Well, oddly, I happen to like a few things I consider Southern food. One of them, I consider needed is good collards. I prefer them made with smoked bones and not a lot of meat. I know that sounds crazy, but, I learned to like collards from poor folks, and there was not a lot of meat. And I like lima beans, especially in what I know as succotash with corn, peas, pimento pieces. Now, more for dinner, I happen to like smothered stuff, doesn't matter what, pork, chicken or shrimp, smothered is good.
I flavour my greens with butt bones and the aspic I gather when I rest my pork and my beef. Of course anything with aspic has such a wonderful texture and taste. I also use it as part of my Brunswick Stew recipe.
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BTW, yes, there are two things I have found that will slow down a buffet line. A carving station at the end of a line and a dessert station at the end of a line. Oh, a tip on the whole dessert thing, make the servings small and plate them up or cut them up ahead of time. This allows women to pick up several items to 'taste' without their subdividing things. Also reduces the need to choose between desserts. This will keep your line moving.
My cakes and pies etc will be the size of petit fours! Again thanks for great insight.
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Unread 06-13-2012, 06:31 PM   #6
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If it's a southern buffet, the chicken needs to be crispy and fried.

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Unread 06-13-2012, 07:16 PM   #7
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Oh there will definitely be fried chicken, cast iron skillet fried in that good ol' tradition. I just want to offer a "less" fattening alternative for those whom are more "health" conscious.
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Unread 06-13-2012, 07:40 PM   #8
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Oh there will definitely be fried chicken, cast iron skillet fried in that good ol' tradition. I just want to offer a "less" fattening alternative for those whom are more "health" conscious.
Not sure how many of those you'll get at a Southern BBQ Buffet...
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Unread 06-15-2012, 11:48 AM   #9
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Not sure how many of those you'll get at a Southern BBQ Buffet...
The area the restaurant is in, is predominately retail and professional so I am imagining if I can steal a few of the ladies away from the Chinese Buffet down the street I will need to offer 'lean & fit' menu items.

Anybody else have any food item suggestions?
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Unread 06-15-2012, 10:17 PM   #10
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If you are doing pulled pork or brisket, I find that keeping them whole as long as possible keeps them from drying out too much. I cook my butts the day before and reheat the next day.
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