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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 07-31-2014, 03:41 PM   #1
DonInGlenAllenVa
Got rid of the matchlight.
 
Join Date: 06-06-14
Location: Glen Allen, VA
Default My first catering gig....of sorts.

I've been toying with the idea of setting up a BBQ trailer for events, catering, etc. In working through all of the potential pitfalls, many of the same concerns so many of you have considered, I'm trying to winnow down the unknowns. One of these, the most obvious up front, is: is my BBQ any good?

It may seem like a silly question, but to me it's rather basic. My family and friends tell me they like it, but they're my family and friends. While I can rely on them for sympathy and support, to a degree, I can't really on them for an honest assessment of my cooking. So I came up with what I think is a good idea. I approached our local fire house and have promised to deliver them pulled pork, mac-n-cheese, baked beans, cole slaw, and potato salad for 5:00PM this Saturday -- NO CHARGE. This is a little thank you for what they do and a little market research. The only thing I ask of them is to fill out a little evaluation questionnaire and to be brutally honest.

So, my question for you all is, what sort of questions would you add to this questionnaire if it were your project? I appreciate your input.

Many thanks,


Don
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Old 07-31-2014, 05:05 PM   #2
rickr96
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Join Date: 04-24-14
Location: Yorba Linda, CA
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I did something similar before my first paid gig. I offered my services free of charge if the organization paid for the food; They buy the meat, and sides and prepared and served it.

I didn't ask for written responses, rather, just tried to talk with people and observe reactions. How much food was consumed? Did people ask for seconds? Did they take home left overs? Did they ask for business cards or a way to contact me for future events?

I did 4 100+ people events this way before my first paid catering job. Besides helping me determine if my food was worth paying for, I was able to fine tune my timelines, quantities and to weed out a couple sides I thought would be real winners that weren't well received.

Not sure what questions I'd have you ask... But that you're even thinking about this says to me you're on the right track.
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Old 07-31-2014, 07:26 PM   #3
Dadeo719
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Location: Georgetown, KY
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Brother that's a great idea. One, shows your appreciation to the guys that risk their lives for us. And two, I understand the thing about having others besides family and friends be your judge. As to what questions, I think I would put the basic things like at comps that they judge for. Taste, tenderness, appearance, etc. Also I would ask what was not present that they would like more of. (like different sides, spice, salt) Also I would ask what they would be willing to pay for that plate. I think that would be a good indication of how much they liked the food. But I think you will get a pretty good feel for what was a hit and what wasn't by how much noise there is when they eat....Silence=Winner!!!
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Old 08-01-2014, 06:33 PM   #4
tulocay
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Great idea. Would like to hear back when this "test" is over.
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Old 08-01-2014, 07:33 PM   #5
Blacksheep-Joe
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Join Date: 07-21-14
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I am in the same boat right now.....tomorrow I am catering my second party. They are paying for the meat and giving me a load of hickory in order to be my guinea pigs. It gives me a chance to get the word out..get some feed back...more practice and free advertising.
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Old 08-01-2014, 07:51 PM   #6
landarc
somebody shut me the fark up.

 
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I think keep is simple, or you will lose them.

1. Did you enjoy the food?
2. Would you pay for this food?
3. Was there anything you did not like?

Bear in mind, that even if they love, or hate, it all. A lot about successful food business is about service and communication. That is why so many bad BBQ places succeed and many great BBQ places fail.
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Old 08-03-2014, 02:59 PM   #7
Reignman
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Join Date: 04-30-14
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Recently, my brother was going up to a cottage with a bunch of friends and their spouses. He asked me to cook up some BBQ and sides for him to take since he wanted them to try my food plus not just have standard hamburgers/hot dogs.

In return, I asked that he get anonymous feedback from them and to be brutally honest. I supplied him with a one pager that just listed each item I gave (Ribs, pulled pork, coleslaw, beans and pickles). I got both pros and cons which is exactly what I was looking for so now I can tweak things for the next batch.

The goal is to do this a bunch of times with varying people (not relatives or my friends) to get a good sense of what works and what doesn't. Hope you can gain some success yourself!
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Old 08-03-2014, 10:28 PM   #8
DonInGlenAllenVa
Got rid of the matchlight.
 
Join Date: 06-06-14
Location: Glen Allen, VA
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Well, I took them pulled pork, mac-n-cheese, baked beans, mustard potato salad, cole slaw, two kinds of sauce, and potato rolls. I put together a one page questionnaire with a scale of 1-10 for each question. The bad thing is that I only received three response sheets from the six guys on duty. A lot of effort and expense went into this for not much of a response, but I suppose that should be expected.

The good news is that the pulled pork was a hit -- 9's and 10's across the board for taste, moistness, smoke flavor, and general satisfaction. The sauce, which I'm still not happy with, was five's from all three respondents.

I was surprised that the mac-n-cheese garnered 6's. I expected that to be a home run.

The surprise is the baked beans, which didn't take a lot of effort, were a big hit. I used brown sugar and the sauce I'd made up. perhaps the sauce that I'm not happy with should be the base for baked beans?

Cole slaw was 5's -- one liked the chop and another didn't. Can't please everybody.

The mustard potato salad was not liked by this crew. I put it together quickly, and can likely improve it but I won't be dissuaded from putting it on a buffet or menu.

Overall, I'm glad the hard part, the pulled pork, was a hit. The other items can be worked out. It was a full day of work putting it all together, mostly by myself except for my wife's mac (which I love). I've worked in restaurants in the past, but this was a good experience to gauge the prep time for any sort of event.

I can see doing this again for different fire houses and different mains. We'll see.
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Old 08-03-2014, 11:12 PM   #9
Piggysquealers
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You'll find coleslaw is completely regional. Find a recipe you like, that you can mass produce. You will never be able to please everyone with one slaw. I have started to limit the sides as I am a one man operation and that can really get you. Good luck
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Old 08-04-2014, 06:15 AM   #10
va_connoisseur
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piggysquealers View Post
You'll find coleslaw is completely regional. Find a recipe you like, that you can mass produce. You will never be able to please everyone with one slaw. I have started to limit the sides as I am a one man operation and that can really get you. Good luck
Congrats on your research and I agree with Piggy. Coleslaw is regional and in VA the slaw that typically excels is basic <read: bland>.
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