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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 07-09-2013, 11:58 AM   #1
Qbert60
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Default Ribs for the Military

Hey All!

I have given the opportunity to provide ribs and 1 side for 500 military families. There will be around 2500-3000 total people. The organizer has asked that I only provide food for 500. The event pays me, I cook, the families eat for free. Here are my questions:

- I have never done something this big before. Most I have ever catered for is about 100 people. I have used the catering calculator provided here and at 2 bones per person, I need 84 racks of ribs. Does that sound right?

- I have a cooker that is modeled after a Jambo. Hot up top, even heat on the bottom. I can fit, maybe, 30 racks between the two shelves. Top shelf will cook faster obviously. Do I cook as many as possible the day before and reheat on the pit at the event? Suggestions PLEASE!

- Because this is strictly for the military, do I take a hit on price for the sake of advertising and exposure? They have a budget and my numbers are reflecting my costs to be 3/4 of the budget. I asked why the other ribs guy wasn't coming back from last year and she said price. Champagne dreams with a beer budget?

Anything else that might help would be much appreciated! Thank you in advance!
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Unread 07-09-2013, 12:24 PM   #2
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Im ex military and I work with them now. They do love some BBQ and even though your budget is running 3/4, you might get some new jobs from this event if all goes well. From my experimentation here. Most people don't know the difference from good BBQ and amazing BBQ. I don't think you will have any frowns if you have to reheat ribs. These people just enjoy eating meat and anything associated with it.Most likely the age group will be under 30 and that's why I say they enjoy meat. They will be happy that you came because most military functions I have been to that were catered offered bland food. Catered BBQ most likely wont be bland, so you should be good.
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Unread 07-09-2013, 12:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qbert60 View Post
Hey All!

I have given the opportunity to provide ribs and 1 side for 500 military families. There will be around 2500-3000 total people. The organizer has asked that I only provide food for 500. The event pays me, I cook, the families eat for free. Here are my questions:

- I have never done something this big before. Most I have ever catered for is about 100 people. I have used the catering calculator provided here and at 2 bones per person, I need 84 racks of ribs. Does that sound right?

- I have a cooker that is modeled after a Jambo. Hot up top, even heat on the bottom. I can fit, maybe, 30 racks between the two shelves. Top shelf will cook faster obviously. Do I cook as many as possible the day before and reheat on the pit at the event? Suggestions PLEASE!

- Because this is strictly for the military, do I take a hit on price for the sake of advertising and exposure? They have a budget and my numbers are reflecting my costs to be 3/4 of the budget. I asked why the other ribs guy wasn't coming back from last year and she said price. Champagne dreams with a beer budget?

Anything else that might help would be much appreciated! Thank you in advance!
First off, thank you for wanting to step up and provide that service. If I was in MI, I'd definitely lend my rig to your services.

I think 2 bones per person is WAY LOW for military folks. I have done cooks for the Marines here at Quantico and 4-6 bones is an average. Trust me, they LOVE home cooking.

I've never done a reheat on ribs so I can't speak to that one.

That's a tough call. If you can handle it financially, I would take the hit. Good vibes, good feelings and good pub. And I can say from experience, those women and men will support you in the future so a little pain now will go a long way for future gigs. Just my 0.02$
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Unread 07-09-2013, 12:46 PM   #4
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I dont know if this is possible, but since I live in the area, I could chip in and cook some slabs for you and deliver them. I dont have a trailer smoker but I could fit probably 10-12 slabs on my pit.

PM me if you think I could help, would be glad to if I can!
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Unread 07-09-2013, 01:14 PM   #5
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Have cooked for the military several times. Cooking/serving ribs at a volume level will require a large volume of rib racks... because you want to maximize the amount of meat per square inch of your smoker.

Will take 300 lbs raw pork (40 butts) just to cover 500 sandwiches.
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Unread 07-09-2013, 01:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by va_connoisseur View Post
First off, thank you for wanting to step up and provide that service. If I was in MI, I'd definitely lend my rig to your services.

I think 2 bones per person is WAY LOW for military folks. I have done cooks for the Marines here at Quantico and 4-6 bones is an average. Trust me, they LOVE home cooking.

I've never done a reheat on ribs so I can't speak to that one.

That's a tough call. If you can handle it financially, I would take the hit. Good vibes, good feelings and good pub. And I can say from experience, those women and men will support you in the future so a little pain now will go a long way for future gigs. Just my 0.02$
Only reason I was thinking of 2 bones was the other rib guy from last year served 2 bones and toast as a side. I was thinking 2 bones and slaw. Maybe the Marines eat more. Both the Marines and the Army will be off base this year.

I actually was not looking for a lot of profit. I will get getting some advertisement and exposure. We know that is first thing we all look for.
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Unread 07-09-2013, 02:50 PM   #7
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Man that is an honor to be able to cook for our servicemen, I would love to be able to do that.

I agree with Bandit, get yourself some rib racks or make them if you can so you can maximize the amount of meat you can get in your cooker.

2 bones is way to small. My cousin is in the Marines and when he is around he always brings a few military friends by my house to visit and those boys inhale food, I don't care what it is they will eat a home cooked meal any day compared to their normal food
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Unread 07-09-2013, 06:42 PM   #8
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So if I get this right. The first 500 people that show up at your vending site get ribs. Everyone else at the event will be eating other food? That may be a disaster waiting to happen. What happens when you run out of food? Who will they blame? I am glad you are willing to do this, but if you are looking to advertise you only reach 20% of the people at the event.

If you do 1/3 of a rack per person, that would be about 10 cases of ribs. The BB ribs I have been getting at Sam's are running about $2.69/lb. Average case is about $150. I don't know what spares are a case, but that may be an alternative.

These are just things that popped into my head. If you can swing it, please feed our troops and their families. I have done it and it is very rewarding.
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Unread 07-09-2013, 10:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyle's BBQ View Post
So if I get this right. The first 500 people that show up at your vending site get ribs. Everyone else at the event will be eating other food? That may be a disaster waiting to happen. What happens when you run out of food? Who will they blame? I am glad you are willing to do this, but if you are looking to advertise you only reach 20% of the people at the event.

If you do 1/3 of a rack per person, that would be about 10 cases of ribs. The BB ribs I have been getting at Sam's are running about $2.69/lb. Average case is about $150. I don't know what spares are a case, but that may be an alternative.

These are just things that popped into my head. If you can swing it, please feed our troops and their families. I have done it and it is very rewarding.
The event is set up as an appreciation picnic for the troops and their families. There is about 4-5 other vendors that will have food available, but I am the only BBQ one there. I think on 2 of us will be cooking onsite, which in turn will help with the exposure. The rest is just drop offs/donations from Jimmy Johns sandwich shop.

St. Louis cut ribs are $2.89/lb. If I do a third rack per serving, I am now cooking 167 racks of ribs. That alone is almost $1600. They only have a $2000 but for me only. I am not set up to cook and store 167 racks.

I am trying to see if they will come off ribs and allow me to do some pulled pork sammies. I can come well under the budget so that should make them happy.

I am not a big outfit. In fact I have only done a handful of events. But it seems like I would be doing a disservice if I didn't try and work out something.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 08:46 AM   #10
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Why not a shout out on your local bbq forum for help?

Its honorable what your trying to do but with no experience and equipment your setting yourself up for disaster.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 08:55 AM   #11
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Why not a shout out on your local bbq forum for help?

Its honorable what your trying to do but with no experience and equipment your setting yourself up for disaster.
I agree. I know if someone locally was doing an event like this, I would be more than happy to donate time, my cooker and donate some meet. I wouldn't even be surprised if you could get some butchers to help donate some cuts or reduce the cost either
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Unread 07-10-2013, 09:34 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bbq Bubba View Post
Why not a shout out on your local bbq forum for help?

Its honorable what your trying to do but with no experience and equipment your setting yourself up for disaster.
Great suggestion. I agree 100%. If you were closer I'd load up the Hog Coffin and give you an hand.

Reach out to your local community and see what can happen
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Unread 07-10-2013, 09:55 AM   #13
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I offered to help in my small way and he did not bother to respond so I take it he doesnt need any help
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Unread 07-10-2013, 10:11 AM   #14
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I offered to help in my small way and he did not bother to respond so I take it he doesnt need any help
Buttburner,

It's not about not needing help at all. If I am cooking over 100 racks, no offense, but 12-15 won't even make a small dent.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 10:21 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bbq Bubba View Post
Why not a shout out on your local bbq forum for help?

Its honorable what your trying to do but with no experience and equipment your setting yourself up for disaster.
Are volunteering?

I just posted.
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