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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.

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Unread 07-23-2006, 10:32 PM   #1
Take a breath!
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Default Cater for 400 people at a wedding!!!

OK, so I'm out watering the plants this evening when my next door neighbor, who had bought 5 pounds of my BBQ brisket for his sons high scool graduation this year, announces his daugher is getting married in June of 07. You probably already see where this is going. Anyway, she loved my Q so the neighbor say's , "can you cater the wedding reception? There will be about 400".

At this point my common sense told me to drop the hose and run away as fast as I could. But this stupid Farkin dumb chit, won't back down from a challange idiot inside my head, (yes the same one that will not ask for directions) made me say, "sure, no problem". So now I'm on the hook for doing this guy's daughters meal for her most important day.

Mrs Hawgnheifers thinks I have completly lost my mind, which now in retrospect, I believe my mind was DOA earlier when I committed. She thinks I should be committed.

Anway, knowing you all out there that cater have all the answers, It's time to share what you know with your Brother here so I can pull this off. I do have some time to get prepared since it's 11 months away. Maby if I start smoking now, I will have it all done by then.

Oh Fark...What the hell did I get myself into???

Here are my questions:
1. How much meat per person do I figure?
2. They want 2 meats and 2 sides, BBQ beef and pulled pork and buns and plates and table service and 2 sides, coleslaw and beans and sweat tea. What the hell do I charge per head?

That's enough right there for now..

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Unread 07-23-2006, 11:12 PM   #2
somebody shut me the fark up.
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Todd, first off, you're farking insane for taking a wedding! I wouldn't want to be the one to ruin her most important day! LOL! Seriously, I'm sutre these guys here can walk you through this just fine. Me? Hell, I am going to start learning but I don't know chit about it!

Anyway, check out KCMike's Catering spreadshhet that you can download for free here: I've downloaded it and looked it over. Seems pretty danged solid!
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Unread 07-23-2006, 11:16 PM   #3
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Most people say 1/4 to 1/2 pound meat per person cooked, figure an average of 1/3 pound. Which means you will have to cook roughly ONE TON of meat to feed that crowd.

OK, my math is fuzzy, but I hope you get the point.

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Unread 07-24-2006, 12:33 AM   #4
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Well here we go again. Go with 8 oz meat per person. Figure women less, men more, so avg 8 oz per head.
That comes out to 200 pounds of finished product.
So assuming you lose probably half during cooking and trimming you will need about 1 lb raw meat per head. So therefore you will need about 400 lbs meat to start with.

Figure about six ounces each of both sides. People always take more than they can eat, so there is a fair amount of waste, but slaw, and beans are pretty inexpensive. Tea is cheaper than all get out.

This is a wedding, I'd charge no less than $15 per head. And I'm sure there are some here who will say do it for less and others for more.

Don't forget, there is your time, your equipment, your planning, your stroke, no wait, hope you don't have a stroke.
Paper goods etc.

Before you shoot a quote. Total the raw costs of everything. Take your time, think of EVERYTHING.
Meat, sides, paper goods, tea, ice, warming dishes and fuel, charcoal, gas, travel time, wood and any other table ware/service, salt condiments...everything.
Now devide that by 400. What do you get?

If it comes to 15 per person, you're doing it for free.
Go from there.

My 12 minutes, and two cents.
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Unread 07-24-2006, 06:39 AM   #5
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Go with The BBQJoe Man,
8 oz. will be a little too much, BUT, if you don't take enough, you're Jacked!!!! If you're over, they'll take it on their Honeymoon with them.
Hey, ay least they are giving you a year to plan.
And, as most relationships go, they won't get married anyway.
Also! Make sure they now exactly what you ARE going to do and what you ARE NOT going to do as far as setting up, serving, clean up and so on.
GET 1/2 the money up front and nonrefundable with a certain amount of days before the wedding.
GET A CONTRACT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! stating all of this.
Smoke On!!!!!!
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Unread 07-24-2006, 07:12 AM   #6
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BBQ Beef and pulled pork....a fairly straight forward smoke with good results probably guarenteed. I'd jump on it. Good for you. Scott
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Unread 07-24-2006, 07:14 AM   #7
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"...and beans and sweat tea."
Yuck. What kind of SICK group are you being asked to cater for?

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Marana, AZ

[FONT=Comic Sans MS]"You must go through the Valley to stand upon the mountain of God."[/FONT]
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Unread 07-24-2006, 07:40 AM   #8
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Bear in mind also that a 400-person reception a year away may be a 200-person reception in reality. Or maybe 600. Obviously, this impacts your bottom line, so you won't be able to get a really accurate account until you have a firm number- which you'll have to have significantly ahead of time, I would think.
Bear in mind also that I've never catered anything myself.

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Unread 07-24-2006, 07:53 AM   #9
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Listen to Joe. At least with pulled pork and beef you can cook it ahead of time and not all at once.
"You can't always get what you want but if you try sometime you just might find you get what you need"

Mange Bene Viva Bene!

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Unread 07-24-2006, 07:57 AM   #10
somebody shut me the fark up.
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I'd let them know that any quote now is based on current prices of meat etc.... One year from now there is no telling what your costs may be.
You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. --Frank Zappa


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Shut up, and cook!!!!
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Unread 07-24-2006, 08:28 AM   #11
somebody shut me the fark up.
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When you say "cater" do you mean meat and sides only or full cater? Gotta watch out since canopies, tables, chairs, etc. cost bucks for the rental. Also, paper or china, plastic or glass? Lot's to consider.

Also, what are you cooking on? I overloaded my butt when I did pork and sides for 400 a few weeks ago...I NEEDED a bigger or additional cooker.

I kept mine "on the cheap" since I was doing it for the church. I provided meat, sides, drinks, paper, plastic, etc. They provided/rented the canopy, tables and chairs, etc. My costs ran about $1200 and I cleared right at $1K.

Again - what are you going to cook on? Get a handle on that real early!!
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Unread 07-24-2006, 08:31 AM   #12
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"I'd let them know that any quote now is based on current prices of meat etc.... One year from now there is no telling what your costs may be"

Now THAT is excellent advice. In the contract put in todays prices of meat and that the final price will be reflective of the price of meat when it has to be ordered.

Also, start asking around,begging, lying, stealing or whatever it takes to get your hands on a big @rse cooker like a Lang or Klose mobile.

I'm sure it will come out well so have some cards printed up and ready to be handed out at the wedding as you WILL pick up some other gigs.
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Unread 07-24-2006, 10:17 AM   #13
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Just one more basic question. Talk to the bride! What does she expect?
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Unread 07-24-2006, 11:43 AM   #14
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Last week I served around 150 with flatware, soft drinks, water, slaw, beans (from scratch wife did the recipe), and pulled pork on a bun (208 buns,) and chicken legs material cost 300 = or - 20 dollars. Beef will run more than the chicken and your meat should be about 1/3 lb per person of cooked weight as a starting est. Others with more experience can help but this is figures from last Thursday.
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Unread 07-24-2006, 12:31 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Hawgsnheifers
Oh Fark...What the hell did I get myself into???


I wouldn't worry about it now......wait until 5/31/2007, then worry.

With the advice you'll get from the folks here that cater, have catered or are in the restaurant bidness, you'll be fine.
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