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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Old 10-20-2018, 10:51 PM   #1
Home Farm BBQ
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Default Advice for new catering

Not trying to do full time in any form. Would just like to do events in which I could provide the meat. Graduations, reunions, etc. The idea of providing meat and not the service. Could do both, but want to make sure I have time for my family. This isnít something I need financially, but I really enjoy smoking meat.

I feel like I have a decent grasp of price for meats based on other threads here. Just looking for wisdom from others that have done it before.

Is my idea of only doing this type of event a bad idea? I donít mind putting more time in if the money is there.

Main purpose is to be able to smoke meat for other people. I enjoy it and my wife is sick of eating bbq. I want to do a few KCBS competitions a year and would like this to help supplement the cost. If it turns into something more or bigger that is fine.

Would like to know what others are doing I regards to advertising to get started? Social media, newspaper ads or what is working for people to get the word out on catering.

Iíve read on regulations, but would love additional advice. Would need to get licensed and get insurance.

I already run my own business and donít see how bbq could replace that.

Thanks so much for the advice.


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Old 11-04-2018, 12:35 AM   #2
Rockinar
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Maybe do some free cooks to build a resume and get the word out and get honest feedback. Is your food even any good? Of course YOU think it is, and friends and family will lie and say it is. Strangers wont lie. Different strokes for different folk. I know a lot of people who think their BBQ is great, and I think it's rather disgusting.

So some free events at a church or for firefighters or something and get feedback.
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Old 11-10-2018, 03:58 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Rockinar View Post
Maybe do some free cooks to build a resume and get the word out and get honest feedback. Is your food even any good? Of course YOU think it is, and friends and family will lie and say it is. Strangers wont lie. Different strokes for different folk. I know a lot of people who think their BBQ is great, and I think it's rather disgusting.

So some free events at a church or for firefighters or something and get feedback.
Agree with Rockinar, you can do some cooks free of charge, just to introduce yourself. You can also create an Instagram account, this might be helpful as well. Make good shots, write a catching description, you can also make different announcements regarding free cooking there. Good luck
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Old 11-10-2018, 10:36 AM   #4
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Also agree with Rockinar. If you aren't doing it for the money, do what I do. Cater (is doing it for free catering?) for friends and family and only charge for your expenses. If you're good at it, people will come up to you and ask you to cater their next event. Then you can decide if you want to take it to the next step. I don't because it's a pleasure cooking for friends and family but the minute you start charging, it's work.
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Old 11-10-2018, 07:34 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Home Farm BBQ View Post

Main purpose is to be able to smoke meat for other people. I enjoy it and my wife is sick of eating bbq. I want to do a few KCBS competitions a year and would like this to help supplement the cost. If it turns into something more or bigger that is fine.

The supplement comp costs is a joke. I only say that because that is what I told myself when I went into business. My main goal was to do 7-10 catering jobs a summer to make some $$ for comps. The reality is that if you do things right the business will just keep growing and you will have to feed the beast $$$$$$. After trying to do comps and catering for the first few years I ended up giving comps up totally in 2013. I finally got tired of spending $1000 plus to see what some judges in a tent thought of my barbecue when my phone was ringing off the hook with people wanting to pay me way more to cater for them. I guess what I'm saying is that if your heart is not in it to build a great business out of it and you just want to cook barbecue more then start a nonprofit and do some charity barbecue fundraising events. It will be a lot more fun going that route. If however, you want to build a great catering business then, by all means, go for it! Good luck whichever way you decide to go.
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Old 11-11-2018, 12:25 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by HBMTN View Post
The supplement comp costs is a joke. I only say that because that is what I told myself when I went into business. My main goal was to do 7-10 catering jobs a summer to make some $$ for comps. The reality is that if you do things right the business will just keep growing and you will have to feed the beast $$$$$$. After trying to do comps and catering for the first few years I ended up giving comps up totally in 2013. I finally got tired of spending $1000 plus to see what some judges in a tent thought of my barbecue when my phone was ringing off the hook with people wanting to pay me way more to cater for them. I guess what I'm saying is that if your heart is not in it to build a great business out of it and you just want to cook barbecue more then start a nonprofit and do some charity barbecue fundraising events. It will be a lot more fun going that route. If however, you want to build a great catering business then, by all means, go for it! Good luck whichever way you decide to go.
Please listen to this advice from a seasoned pro.
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Old 11-11-2018, 09:31 PM   #7
Home Farm BBQ
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Fantastic advice from everyone. Really appreciate taking the time to respond. Iíve done the free cooks for others and will continue to do those for friends. Graduation, wedding rehearsal, baby showers, etc have all been done already.

Part of the reason I wanted to do comps was to prove myself outside of friends/family getting free food. A lot of them donít understand what great que is. Iíve made great bbq and Iíve made sub par bbq. Friends and family always say it is great either way. I realize sometimes that is being polite.

I can see the competitions getting old based on getting a bad table when you still have a good cook. Iíve only done a few local comps and done well. 1 KCBS comp and my cook wasnít great. Got 30 out of 42 teams. I took a competition class to shorten the learning curve. Tried running their program based on their water smoker. I donít use water and my finished temps needed to be higher for the right tenderness. Lesson learned. Didnít trust what I already knew. Competition flavors would be different than catering.

Iíve done a customer appreciation for my current business and have clients asking for more bbq. One client thinks I should do a newsletter every month. Haha.

I honestly just enjoy cooking bbq. I feel like the business side of it I should be able to figure out. Want to start small and build bigger if the demand is there.

Iím picking up a gravity fed smoker this weekend to hopefully add the ability to do more. Currently run two 22.5 weber Smokey mountains.

Again. Thanks for the comments. Everything has a learning curve and I like trying to get ahead of it. Keeps any advice coming.




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Old 11-16-2018, 08:30 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by HBMTN View Post
The supplement comp costs is a joke. I only say that because that is what I told myself when I went into business. My main goal was to do 7-10 catering jobs a summer to make some $$ for comps. The reality is that if you do things right the business will just keep growing and you will have to feed the beast $$$$$$. After trying to do comps and catering for the first few years I ended up giving comps up totally in 2013. I finally got tired of spending $1000 plus to see what some judges in a tent thought of my barbecue when my phone was ringing off the hook with people wanting to pay me way more to cater for them. I guess what I'm saying is that if your heart is not in it to build a great business out of it and you just want to cook barbecue more then start a nonprofit and do some charity barbecue fundraising events. It will be a lot more fun going that route. If however, you want to build a great catering business then, by all means, go for it! Good luck whichever way you decide to go.
Anyone know what cooking for non profits is like? My daughter just beat cancer and I would love to help other families battling with their kids. My first thought was to cook and bring to the families on the weekends when there are limited food options at the hospital, the hospital said they can't do that. My next thought was to make meals and deliver to local families for free. I would assume there is no legal liability there correct since it would come at no charge? I also would like to cook for bbq fundraisers, but there I would ask the families to provide the meat and I would just offer my cooking services, but again I don't know if I would have any liability since I would not be charging for the food and more along the lines of a personal chef.
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Old 11-16-2018, 09:48 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Raider18 View Post
Anyone know what cooking for non profits is like? My daughter just beat cancer and I would love to help other families battling with their kids. My first thought was to cook and bring to the families on the weekends when there are limited food options at the hospital, the hospital said they can't do that. My next thought was to make meals and deliver to local families for free. I would assume there is no legal liability there correct since it would come at no charge? I also would like to cook for bbq fundraisers, but there I would ask the families to provide the meat and I would just offer my cooking services, but again I don't know if I would have any liability since I would not be charging for the food and more along the lines of a personal chef.
Contact your local health department and ask them your questions.
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Old 11-17-2018, 02:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raider18 View Post
Anyone know what cooking for non profits is like? My daughter just beat cancer and I would love to help other families battling with their kids. My first thought was to cook and bring to the families on the weekends when there are limited food options at the hospital, the hospital said they can't do that. My next thought was to make meals and deliver to local families for free. I would assume there is no legal liability there correct since it would come at no charge? I also would like to cook for bbq fundraisers, but there I would ask the families to provide the meat and I would just offer my cooking services, but again I don't know if I would have any liability since I would not be charging for the food and more along the lines of a personal chef.
Technically speaking you will need everything that you have to have to open a catering business from a health dept standpoint though in my area the HD tends to look the other way and charity cooking. That said, if you just want to help and can start a nonprofit then you will get way more help from everyone including other like-minded people wanting to help you and others wanting to donate to your cause. You won't be under the PRESSURE OF A PAYING CLIENT and it can be more about the food, cooking, helping others and fellowship of the experience.
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Old 11-17-2018, 10:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Raider18 View Post
Anyone know what cooking for non profits is like? My daughter just beat cancer and I would love to help other families battling with their kids. My first thought was to cook and bring to the families on the weekends when there are limited food options at the hospital, the hospital said they can't do that. My next thought was to make meals and deliver to local families for free. I would assume there is no legal liability there correct since it would come at no charge? I also would like to cook for bbq fundraisers, but there I would ask the families to provide the meat and I would just offer my cooking services, but again I don't know if I would have any liability since I would not be charging for the food and more along the lines of a personal chef.


Glad to hear about your daughter!!!! Like your idea about giving back. Best of luck!


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Old 11-17-2018, 10:48 PM   #12
Home Farm BBQ
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Got the bigger smoker back home . Baby steps at this moment. Already have a friend who gave me $60 to buy meat and smoke for tomorrow.

Thought about what others have said here and going to try to cook for others for cost if they want. Wonít be selling or giving to the public. Should keep things simple right now and hopefully grow awareness of the bbq.

Eventually want to get into the food trailer part of it for vending. Feel like this might be the easiest way to pass code for health inspection and get insured. I think I would enjoy people saying they liked my food more than the comps and having mixed opinions.

However, Iím a stubborn person and will try a few more comps in the future. I have to fail a few more times before Iím done with it. The cost of them are ridiculous, but Iím also looking to learn from others and meet like minded people. I have a few local smaller events where the meat is provided and judged.

Thanks again for the help and comments!




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Old 11-18-2018, 12:31 AM   #13
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I would not assume no liability just because you arent paid. If you undercook chicken and serve it, why wouldn't you be held liable if ppl get sick?
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Old 11-18-2018, 07:48 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Home Farm BBQ View Post
Got the bigger smoker back home . Baby steps at this moment. Already have a friend who gave me $60 to buy meat and smoke for tomorrow.

Thought about what others have said here and going to try to cook for others for cost if they want. Wonít be selling or giving to the public. Should keep things simple right now and hopefully grow awareness of the bbq.

Eventually want to get into the food trailer part of it for vending. Feel like this might be the easiest way to pass code for health inspection and get insured. I think I would enjoy people saying they liked my food more than the comps and having mixed opinions.

However, Iím a stubborn person and will try a few more comps in the future. I have to fail a few more times before Iím done with it. The cost of them are ridiculous, but Iím also looking to learn from others and meet like minded people. I have a few local smaller events where the meat is provided and judged.

Thanks again for the help and comments!




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Cooking at cost doesn't remove the liability. Doing this is very dangerous & you risk your own family's safety and well-being. "If" something were to happen, and the lawsuits started, no one would care that you only did it for cost (actually, no one would care if you did it for free). The fact that money changed hands is actually worse for you. Taking consideration means that you are in business...illegally.

I stand by my first recommendation...contact your local health department and allow them to answer your questions. It's the only way.
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Old 11-19-2018, 01:06 AM   #15
Home Farm BBQ
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Join Date: 12-27-17
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You are correct on liability. Iím an insurance agent. Liability comes down to anything a lawyer wants to argue. That gray area can be right or wrong. Which could end up in the hands of a jury I suppose.

The difference between doing it personal and business is a big thing. You need insurance for both. Iím fully covered for personal liability coverage currently and have an umbrella coverage that I feel would more than cover me for cooking for someone else without taking pay for cooking. The moment you take money then it needs to be a commercial or business policy.

The minute you start doing something as a business and you expect your personal insurance to cover is when someone can end up in trouble.

Your point is correct. If you cause harm personally or as a business. It doesnít matter. Someone can come after you. Cover yourself for both if you are doing both.


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