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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 05-15-2014, 06:52 PM   #16
bigabyte
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I honestly assumed every time I saw this thread title that it was about the Woodpile.

Imagine my surprise.
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Unread 05-15-2014, 07:47 PM   #17
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This forum serves a huge purpose.

Yeah, fly-by-nighters kill us. But, my biggest fear is making somebody sick. This very forum taught me about ServSafe, insurances, and pricing.

Simply put, if it weren't for this forum, I would still be catering bootleg gigs for someone that can't afford a caterer.

I supplement my bbq habit with a few gigs a year, and that dinero keeps me somewhat relevant.

You can pass information, but you can't make people use it. The best you can do is hope someone has a conscience and does things right. In my experience, those fools that do it illegally don't last long.

You can choose to chime in, or ignore it.
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Unread 05-15-2014, 07:48 PM   #18
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In general, most of us who answer (and I am no pro cook anymore) try to gently, or directly let the person asking know that they are going down the wrong path if they are suggesting they are going to charge. There are many times i have let a question go, because I didn't like the posters intentions. If a person comes on and starts talking about undercutting professionals, and they respond negatively to the first one or two suggestions about doing it right, I will let it go.

I do try to help, and also when needed, I come here to ask, for confirmation and/or guidance on larger cooks.
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Unread 05-15-2014, 08:39 PM   #19
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I have slowly (over two years) went through the painful steps to start a genuine bbq catering business. I have absorbed a plethora of knowledge from this site. I appreciate all responses to all the questions I pose here (some way more silly than others/ in retrospect). I have gone through the pains of acquiring a business license(LLC), reserved the use of a commercial kitchen, located affordable insurance, so on and so on. I would not have been able to push forward without the vast knowledge I have acquired here. I appreciate all of it. I appreciate all the time and effort some who put into their responses. I also appreciate some of the "devils advocate" answers i get. It is good to get the "do you know what you are getting yourself into responses", just as much as the "you go guy" responses. I understand what you are saying. I have put two years into building up enough resources, capital, and experience to begin stepping into the arena. However, I dont think it conducive to discourage anyone from posting here. A lot of the posts are redundant. However, it is good to get new eyes on certain topics from time to time.
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Unread 05-15-2014, 09:12 PM   #20
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In all honesty it's the redundant questions that are the most important.
There's a reason the same people ask the same things over, and over, and over again.
Also it brings a smile to my face every single time I see a post in Q-Talk along the lines of, "Help! My first brisket! What do I do?!" and when I look in the thread you've got the key threads linked to, a bunch of new advice, some more questions asked, some more answers covered. The icing on the cake is when some dude shows up into the thread and he's all, "I've been wondering about the same things, but I was too scared to ask and couldn't find anything when I tried to use the search. This is a great thread!"

Like Ron L said, it's what makes this place the Brethren.
Well, that and page three.
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Unread 05-15-2014, 09:12 PM   #21
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Something else about using the search to get answers.. Our forum goes back 11 years..2 million posts... thats alot of answers... and more importantly, times have changed and some answers from 2005 may not apply today, or there just may be a better way now.
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Unread 05-15-2014, 09:19 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by va_connoisseur View Post
I agree with you Ron. This forum has helped me make the decision to throw my hat in the ring as a caterer.

I am just starting out, have not done any advertising yet, because I did want to learn how to do it the right way but there are times when people on this forum make it seem so daunting that it discourages people.

For me, this forum is helpful and I think if people provide honest insight about the ups and downs of catering then we all are better for it. And the truth is that when my cigar buddies ask me to "cater" an event for them, it's because (1) they trust me, (2) they like my food and (3) they want to help me succeed. And probably they would rather have me there to hang out with around the smoker than a stuffy, non-involved person.

Some of us have no desire to open a B&M, this is a hobby for us and we get all the legal/health stuff taken care of as protection but it's not going to replace our 9to5.
This....

I have been a successful competition cook for several years in my area... And with that have been numerous requests to cater.. At first I said no, but then I realized I could make a few bucks to help pay for competitions. I had no clue where to start. Here comes this forum. I have mainly searched for questions that have already been asked. Well as I was only doing stuff "for friends" yes I was doing it at home. Now a couple years later. I realized I need to do this legit. I had a food handlers card from the beginning. Now it's time for insurance, and a county license. I tried opening my own kitchen but in reality I don't have the Capitol and with all the city codes and regulations these days not gona happen anytime soon. I found a certified kitchen to rent.

Long story short. I was the guy in the garage doing small stuff on the side. Now I am legit and have my own business although not full time.. A lot of it has to do with this forum and members like you.

Thank You to you and all who have contributed in this forum.

Jesse
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Unread 05-15-2014, 09:22 PM   #23
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Early Mornin,

I feel your pain. Every time I see a post from a hobbyist/newbie I . For some time I internally railed against them.

Then came the realization that:

A) They know they are doing business illegally and just don't care (and therefore deserve any repercussions that come their way)

B) They are unaware of the food service laws/regs and need guidance and instruction to become legal (I believe that 99.9% of the folks doing things out of compliance fit this category).

I view my role on this forum as an unpaid consultant. My goal is to assist people by answering their questions and informing them of what it truly is that they are contemplating - going into business - and all the responsibilities that entails.

When we first started thinking about doing Q for the public we had no clue as to the laws regarding public food sales. To be honest it didn't even cross our minds since we never thought of it as a business. That may sound very naive but I bet if you ask 100 people at least 90 will say that very same thing. We did a couple of festival gigs out of our home kitchen. We honestly didn't know any better. After these gigs I started doing some research and found some forums (this one is the very best I have ever come across) and quickly realized that we were at great risk. It was this very forum that helped me to focus on what we needed to do to be legit.

The laws/regs can be very confusing, and sometimes difficult to even find, that most people don't know where or how to find them. I spent a good 3-4 months researching food service regs here in KS before I felt that I had a good handle on what we needed to do to be legal. This is where sources such as this forum can be a Godsend. Here they can have access to people who know the business, from both legal and operational aspects, who can lead them in the right direction.

I understand that it can be frustrating at times to feel like every answer to new posts is a repeat of every past answer. However, I then think back to how I/We got started and realize that I may be helping them to be safe, secure and profitable in a business that they may truly love.

I do have one suggestion for this site. If the Search function was located at the top of the page(s) and was more prominently displayed it might help new Users to find/use it. The majority of webpages locate their Search functions near or at the top so most Users are expecting to find it there. I was using this site for over 6 months before I even noticed it at the bottom of the page(s)
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Unread 05-15-2014, 11:10 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bizznessman View Post
Early Mornin,

I feel your pain. Every time I see a post from a hobbyist/newbie I . For some time I internally railed against them.

Then came the realization that:

A) They know they are doing business illegally and just don't care (and therefore deserve any repercussions that come their way)

B) They are unaware of the food service laws/regs and need guidance and instruction to become legal (I believe that 99.9% of the folks doing things out of compliance fit this category).

I view my role on this forum as an unpaid consultant. My goal is to assist people by answering their questions and informing them of what it truly is that they are contemplating - going into business - and all the responsibilities that entails.

When we first started thinking about doing Q for the public we had no clue as to the laws regarding public food sales. To be honest it didn't even cross our minds since we never thought of it as a business. That may sound very naive but I bet if you ask 100 people at least 90 will say that very same thing. We did a couple of festival gigs out of our home kitchen. We honestly didn't know any better. After these gigs I started doing some research and found some forums (this one is the very best I have ever come across) and quickly realized that we were at great risk. It was this very forum that helped me to focus on what we needed to do to be legit.

The laws/regs can be very confusing, and sometimes difficult to even find, that most people don't know where or how to find them. I spent a good 3-4 months researching food service regs here in KS before I felt that I had a good handle on what we needed to do to be legal. This is where sources such as this forum can be a Godsend. Here they can have access to people who know the business, from both legal and operational aspects, who can lead them in the right direction.

I understand that it can be frustrating at times to feel like every answer to new posts is a repeat of every past answer. However, I then think back to how I/We got started and realize that I may be helping them to be safe, secure and profitable in a business that they may truly love.

I do have one suggestion for this site. If the Search function was located at the top of the page(s) and was more prominently displayed it might help new Users to find/use it. The majority of webpages locate their Search functions near or at the top so most Users are expecting to find it there. I was using this site for over 6 months before I even noticed it at the bottom of the page(s)

i put it at the bottom to make it unobtrusive. I have a plane to catch in the AM, so cant do it now, but if you remind me next week, we can try it at the top and see what feedback we get. Send me a PM.. otherwise it will go poof out of the brain.
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Unread 05-16-2014, 08:53 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by early mornin' smokin' View Post
Trust me, if I could've circumnavigated the DOH, Servsafe, building and fire inspections, I would've. But the truth is, you can't without trying to get yourself shut down.
That's fine, it's ok to point those things out. A lot of people don't understand the risks and the liability, and there's nothing wrong with educating them on that point. If they decide to go ahead and do it anyway, that's not on you. If they're not stealing business from you, what does it really matter to you in the grand scheme of things? And if they *are* stealing business from you, call the health department and rat them out.

The fact is, anybody can cook. I completely understand your perspective, it's the same problem that wedding photographers (for example) have. Any yahoo with a camera can do wedding photography on the cheap. The fact is though, they might do one or two gigs, then some hacked off wives put an end to that quick. They realize that they saved $1000 over hiring a pro, and got what they paid for. Same deal with the roadside stand. Either they sell a bunch of Q and go legit, or they fail and they're not competition to the legit business owners anymore.

You put in a lot of hard work to get where you are, and that's commendable. You know *why* you had to put in all that hard work too. No sense in getting your blood pressure up when somebody else chooses to take shortcuts. As you well know, there's a pitfall at the end of each of those shortcuts. If you care about the poster, chime in and point out the pitfalls. If not, let 'em fall in one. Either way, no skin off your nose, and no blood pressure meds necessary.
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Unread 05-16-2014, 10:24 AM   #26
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I understand where the OP is coming from. When I decided to bottle my BBQ sauce I did it the right way. I had it lab tested, got my own UPC barcode and #, had a co-packer make it for me etc. All of which cost me roughly about $5,000 of my own money to get started.

Yet I know three people right now who make their own bbq sauce in their home kitchen and sell at some of the same shows we go to. However, the problem for them is they've limited how far they can go by cutting corners. They cannot get into the Kroger stores (like I have) because you've got to have UPC barcodes and number, proof of insurance etc. So in essence I have nothing to worry about because they've cut their own throats with regard to future success.

I think it is the same with these people the OP is talking about. Consumers aren't stupid. They can quickly tell the difference in a legit, professional operation compared to someone who's trying to fly under the legal radar. By cutting corners these folks have already undermined any type of future success. Sure, they might get a gig here and a gig there. But it won't be anything that will significantly cut into someone who's legit.

At times it does tick me off because I've done it the right way. But I remind myself by cutting corners they have already sunk their business.
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Unread 05-16-2014, 10:28 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bizznessman View Post
I do have one suggestion for this site. If the Search function was located at the top of the page(s) and was more prominently displayed it might help new Users to find/use it. The majority of webpages locate their Search functions near or at the top so most Users are expecting to find it there. I was using this site for over 6 months before I even noticed it at the bottom of the page(s)
There is a search function at the top of the page that is available to subscribers
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Unread 05-18-2014, 11:05 AM   #28
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From the replies, it looks like I am in a minority here, I AGREE with with everything you say. For years I was a professional fishing guide, I only wish I had 1 cent for every guy that "only wanted to take his friends out". These guys only ruin it for the legitimate people. It is no different in the catering business, these people take jobs from us, and when the customer has a bad or not so great experience, they just dont hire caterers. I have asked questions on here, and received great help, but I am a legitimate business. I had to learn the hard way, I will help anyway I can, but I do agree with having a license and being a "real" business, and doing things the right way.
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Unread 05-18-2014, 11:48 AM   #29
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I know a joint that pulls their chick from the smoker at 145..... 145... then piles it in tubs and places it in a dedicated HOLDING oven at 170 until it all reaches 165... then each tub is introduced to their dedicated 150 holding oven for service.

Best chicken other than mine I have ever had.

Hopefully you see the point.

Now... outside that I understand what you are saying but also think to STOP the freeflow of info here is stupid.

Finally, to let you know I Get what you are saying... one of the frustration I myself have is the pressure of people to cater without the proper credentials in my state.

I always tell them I will return to being a legitimate caterer with Texas credentials and do it right..... an to be caught doing it wrong or to be flagged will forever make myself a target from the local HDs.
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Unread 05-18-2014, 08:17 PM   #30
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I sold a little BBQ on the side under the radar before I went legal. There are several in my area that do it and have been doing it for 15 plus years and are known for it. When I decided to make a business out of it and go legal 5 years ago I gained the most powerful tool in my barbecue arsenal and that is the power to advertise and let people know what we have to offer and my being legal it's allowed me to serve more barbecue that all of the under radar guys combined. The guys that are doing it illegally are getting all of the people looking for low ball barbecue and I get all of the money events (along with other legal q'rs in the area) Yes sometimes I get my skin ruffled by them, especially when the HD knows they are selling and do nothing about it. I have to say if it were not for the Brethren here helping me in the beginning it would have been a much tougher journey. So I try to help when I can but I understand where you are coming from.
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