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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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Unread 10-12-2006, 06:05 PM   #1
Kevin
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Default Outlaw caterers beware!

Just want to relate an experience that I had recently. I was asked to cook for a wedding reception for about 200. I've done such events many times for friends in the past and all went well. This was for a friend's niece that I don't know. Didn't feel comfortable cooking for complete strangers so I declined. I don't have current serve safe certification. Got no insurance for this stuff either. The whole thing just didn't feel right.

Boy did I dodge a bullet. Approximately 80 people got food poisoning at the event. They haven't determined the source of the bug yet. The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating. I'm sure of my cooking skills and safe food handling practices but that would not protect me from being lumped in with the food prepared by others. I think I'll just cook at home for my family until I procur the proper certification and insurance.
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Unread 10-12-2006, 06:45 PM   #2
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I'll be the first to call you out...I'f you're not a caterer then don't try to be one. If you don't have a proper kitchen, health inspections, insurance, etc..., then don't sell your services. Anytime you "act" as a caterer you low ball real caterers and make the industry more expensive for the legit businesses. Cook for your friends and neighbors, but you are not allowed to sell anything without the proper foundation.

Sorry, not trying to be harse here but that's the way it is.
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Unread 10-12-2006, 07:34 PM   #3
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Not sure where that came from. I have owned and operated a restaraunt. Been certified and insured in the past. And as I said, I DID NOT cook for this. I was just making the comment that one should not do so unless you do meet the proper requirements.
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Unread 10-12-2006, 07:35 PM   #4
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Those people must have eaten nothing but salad. That's the new virus spreader hehe.
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Unread 10-12-2006, 08:42 PM   #5
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Good call Kevin!!!
You certainly brought out a perfect example of what could happen!!!
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Unread 10-12-2006, 08:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by butts
I'll be the first to call you out...I'f you're not a caterer then don't try to be one. If you don't have a proper kitchen, health inspections, insurance, etc..., then don't sell your services. Anytime you "act" as a caterer you low ball real caterers and make the industry more expensive for the legit businesses. Cook for your friends and neighbors, but you are not allowed to sell anything without the proper foundation.

Sorry, not trying to be harse here but that's the way it is.
Actually, it doesnt have to be that way.... there are many carnivals/shows/fairs that allow you to get a temporary permit, and health dept. approval and sell away. Most don't require insurance, either -- however I wouldnt suggest cooking without a specific policy, or an umbrella policy that covers your wares. Many places have different rules for outfits that only cook onsite as well.... that is how many "Chris Cakes" are able to run out of a truck, vs. a kitchen/commisary.
Lots of great info in alot of the threads and polls in this forum. Joe and team have put a heck of alot of great info out there. I think all of us strive to do the best we can, and the addition of the Food Handling and Awareness forum is chocked full of good detail, for anyone looking to have proper food safety - cooking for neighbors, or for a wedding.
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Unread 10-12-2006, 09:01 PM   #7
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The point here is that Kevin doesn't currently possess any current certification.
Had he gone ahead with the cook, it is highly possible he could have been cited or sucked into any possible lawsuit that may arise.
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Unread 10-12-2006, 09:02 PM   #8
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As someone who has sold some BBQ in the past, I am a bit miffed at the "Anytime you "act" as a caterer you low ball real caterers and make the industry more expensive for the legit businesses" comment. I haven't "low balled" anyone. I'm too proud of my product to do that. You probably ought to get to know some of the guys here before you make such generalizations.
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Unread 10-12-2006, 09:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by butts
I'll be the first to call you out...I'f you're not a caterer then don't try to be one. If you don't have a proper kitchen, health inspections, insurance, etc..., then don't sell your services. Anytime you "act" as a caterer you low ball real caterers and make the industry more expensive for the legit businesses. Cook for your friends and neighbors, but you are not allowed to sell anything without the proper foundation.

Sorry, not trying to be harse here but that's the way it is.

FWIW, it is nice to feel that you can think out loud with brothers and not be flamed, so to speak!
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Unread 10-12-2006, 10:18 PM   #10
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Sorry Kevin and brothers,

I didn't mean to call anyone out. Locally we have a lot of people who are not legit that take business from those of us who are. That's all I was trying to get across. I'm sorry that I ranted on those that I shouldn't have.
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Unread 10-13-2006, 08:57 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by butts
Sorry Kevin and brothers,

I didn't mean to call anyone out. Locally we have a lot of people who are not legit that take business from those of us who are. That's all I was trying to get across. I'm sorry that I ranted on those that I shouldn't have.
Aye, I think he was saying what you wanted him to say in the first place!

How's that go? Breathe. ;)
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Unread 10-13-2006, 10:53 AM   #12
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I can definately tell you this, commercial kitchens are the source of more ill prepared, ill handled food than any weekend caterer. I know in Texas there are many of us who will cater an event for a friend or family member at cost. We will pour our heart and soul into it too.
Most commercial caterers will also prepare menus that are profitable and dependable to their financial success. But being that this is the land of opportunity, you have to take it.
I doubt very much whether a lot of parties would even have food if folks had to depend on paying for a commercial kitchen to provide the food. Weekend unlicensed caterers make it possible to provide food to your friends at such events.
I do understand that there is a certain amount liability that comes with doing such a thing. I am also glad it has been addressed here. That said, if you have a passion for what you are doing, look into what the health dept requires of you and decide whether you think it is worth it. Also, I would say that the majority of the catering businesses in my neck of the woods may be cleared in their restaurants, but I would imagine that their catered events are not cleared the same way if at all. You all know what I mean. I worked in the food service industry for three years and know that a temp health cert is handed out for the taking.
So get a good umbrella policy or make sure you keep your business isolated from your personal life.
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Unread 10-13-2006, 10:58 AM   #13
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Dear Brothers,
This is a very sensitive area. Some us of own and operate legitimate food service operations.

Others dabble, toy, and experiment with the possibilities of going into business for themselves.

There is sometimes a fine line between cooking for a group of friends, and actually performing a catering service.
Where that line begins and ends is sometimes only up to local ordinances and requirements. It is best for you to look at the many aspects before venturing into such endevours.

As I have tried to convey to everyone here, there are great dangers in the food handling industry and at home.

Kevin has pointed out one very real danger. A danger so real, that lives, property, and reputation as well as other things could be lost.

Most all of us think our "Q" is the best in the world. And when people tell us just that, it is overwhelmingly one of the most beautiful things to the ear.

Thoughts of grandour and fame quickly leap into our minds. The prospect of making some money doing something we love so much, is beyond alluring.
It is intoxicating.

And it is this that makes it so important to follow proper procedures and guidelines when considering any catering proposition.

Kevin averted possible disaster by following a gut instinct. Others might not be so lucky to have such skills, and or to follow them.
It may not even been his food that caused illness, but he would have been "Grouped" with everyone who did provide food, until at least some scientific studying proved who the culpret was.

But there probably will always be conflict on this subject of whether something is catering or not. Whether a permit or license is needed, or if insurance is required etc.

It is up to you to find these things out, and proceed accordingly. Period.
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Unread 10-13-2006, 11:08 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbqjoe
Dear Brothers,
This is a very sensitive area. Some us of own and operate legitimate food service operations.

Others dabble, toy, and experiment with the possibilities of going into business for themselves.

There is sometimes a fine line between cooking for a group of friends, and actually performing a catering service.
Where that line begins and ends is sometimes only up to local ordinances and requirements. It is best for you to look at the many aspects before venturing into such endevours.

As I have tried to convey to everyone here, there are great dangers in the food handling industry and at home.

Kevin has pointed out one very real danger. A danger so real, that lives, property, and reputation as well as other things could be lost.

Most all of us think our "Q" is the best in the world. And when people tell us just that, it is overwhelmingly one of the most beautiful things to the ear.

Thoughts of grandour and fame quickly leap into our minds. The prospect of making some money doing something we love so much, is beyond alluring.
It is intoxicating.

And it is this that makes it so important to follow proper procedures and guidelines when considering any catering proposition.

Kevin averted possible disaster by following a gut instinct. Others might not be so lucky to have such skills, and or to follow them.
It may not even been his food that caused illness, but he would have been "Grouped" with everyone who did provide food, until at least some scientific studying proved who the culpret was.

But there probably will always be conflict on this subject of whether something is catering or not. Whether a permit or license is needed, or if insurance is required etc.

It is up to you to find these things out, and proceed accordingly. Period.
Well said!
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Unread 10-13-2006, 11:29 AM   #15
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As I alluded to earlier.... Thanks Joe for kicking off the Food Handling forum and giving us a great place to start looking for the answers. You statements are right on. As always, I appreciate your clarity...
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