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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 04-27-2014, 08:06 AM   #1
Drh7003
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Default FD Chicken BBQ benefit

Yesterday I helped out at the local Fire Department Chicken BBQ benefit. A friend asked if I would help because he was short handed. They have a custom Meadowcreek BBQ 96 with a hog cooker across the back. They started the pit at 500 am and put chicken on by 630. The plan was to cook 800# of chicken halves and 600 baked potatoes by 200pm. It was a nice day, temps in the 70's but then the wind kicked up. And the pit temps fell and the chicken wasn't getting done quick enough to meet demand. They ended up turning away about 150 people because they could not keep up.They fell short of their goal and sold the last 6 cases of chicken to members because people weren't waiting.
My friend asked me what I thought went wrong. When I worked a lot of FD BBQs in the past, we always started earlier for a cook that large and within the those time constraints. Or we used more pits. Every other year they sold out early, so my thought was they started too late.

Any suggestions for him next time?
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Old 04-27-2014, 07:17 PM   #2
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I think you have it right. Start earlier and with more cookers. How many halves did you cook at one time? Where were the potatoes cooked?
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Old 04-27-2014, 07:32 PM   #3
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Each bay of that BBQ 96 will only do one batch of aprox.40lbs. Per hour and that doesn't count adding and re-lighting the coals..
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Old 04-27-2014, 07:35 PM   #4
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Each bay of that BBQ 96 will only do one batch of aprox.40lbs. Per hour and that doesn't count adding and re-lighting the coals.
So it looks like someone got the math wrong. I think they will need more holding capacity too.
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Old 04-27-2014, 07:36 PM   #5
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A lot of this depends on the end product, but, I think starting something like this the 'day of' puts a lot of stress on the one cooker operation. If you have multiple cooks and cookers, then you can make up some ground, but, in the end, 800 pounds of chicken, takes more than 6 to 7 hours to cook.
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Old 04-27-2014, 07:38 PM   #6
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The cooker can do 120 lbs. Per hour I use one for chicken fundraisers often you can't skimp on charcoal.

Had you used the cooker before? How much charcoal on each bay did you use?
800lbs is not realistic in that time frame
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Old 04-27-2014, 07:56 PM   #7
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I assume you mean per hour of cooking time, not including the time for loading and unloading, coming to temperature, any marinating or saucing. Unless you are cooking petty hot, an hour total turnaround is pretty danged good.
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Old 04-27-2014, 08:02 PM   #8
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I assume you mean per hour of cooking time, not including the time for loading and unloading, coming to temperature, any marinating or saucing. Unless you are cooking petty hot, an hour total turnaround is pretty danged good.
Correct, that's just cook time. Not including getting the coals ready to cook.
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Old 04-28-2014, 09:11 AM   #9
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I asked my friend who was in charge a few things going into it. A few things I noticed were 1) his chicken was packed in ice in a reefer trailer so it was more or less frozen going on the pit. 2) he had a very small bed of coals in each bay something close to 20# if I were to guess ( I believed he needed more) 3) they had only 3 racks which slowed reloading down
If it were me, I would have borrowed or rented another 4 rack cooker and started earlier. He was very short handed there were 5 people for the most part + the ladies doing box assembly.
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Old 04-28-2014, 12:29 PM   #10
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Frozen chicken is a problem but 20# won't do it. I use 30 for wings and leg quarters and find it's perfect. 20 won't evenly fill the thing. Too much and you will get more flare ups. That's from my experience using a bbq96
I've never done half chickens.
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Old 04-28-2014, 07:55 PM   #11
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When I do pork in my PR60, I start with 40#. The chicken cookers are much larger.
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Old 04-28-2014, 08:06 PM   #12
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Yeah but the pr has the drip,pan the bbq does not. Like I said in my experience too much and you get more flare ups. I do well with 30#
Where in Middletown are you and what fire company was it? You guys can borrow mine for fundraisers if its for a FC
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Old 04-29-2014, 11:23 AM   #13
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I am actually a mile from TMI. I work on the west shore and it was over there. Another local FD has a 144 that they can borrow next time. But thanks for the offer.
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Old 04-29-2014, 02:09 PM   #14
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Chicken and ribs always take more room and time than you might think. Oddly, smaller cuts of meat use more space in a cooker. We used to cook 500 or so chicken halves for our annual church bazaar, but, we had a large open pit, with flip racks, so it went pretty fast.
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Old 04-30-2014, 12:31 PM   #15
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Years ago, the FD had a bunch of metal breakdown pits and about 40 or so flip racks. They would start cooking chicken at 1130 the night before and had the chicken cooked before 100pm. Of course, they also made 1000 halves or more at that time. They also had more available manpower. I am hoping that the next time they plan on doing this that they borrow the larger pit, start earlier and learn from this experience. I hope to help out again, because I know they are always short handed when it comes to fundraisers.
My hometown FD has a brick and mortar pit next to the station, they do ok with manpower and their pit size.
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