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Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses. this forum is OnTopic. A resource to help with catering, vending and just cooking for large parties. Topics to include Getting Started, Ethics, Marketing, Catering resources, Formulas and recipes for cooking for large groups.


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Unread 04-10-2009, 02:15 AM   #1
Pyle's BBQ
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Default Very large one day catering.

I have the opportunity to cook for RAGBRAI at the Greenfield overnight stop.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with this, it is a bike ride across Iowa from west to east. There is a limit of 10,000 "registered" riders and several thousand additional "daily" riders. Basically this is a party on wheels across the state of Iowa.

The owner of the only bar in town wants me to cook the food. I get to keep 90-95% of the profits.

We have told the Chamber of Commerce that we would try to feed 5000 of the people that would come through town.

Has anyone tried to feed this many people in a 12 hour period?

I plan on having brisket or pulled pork sandwich and a side of coleslaw for $5.00.

My figures show I will need 965# of pork, about 1230# of brisket or 1000# of chuck (as an alternate to brisket). This is making 2500 sandwiches of each pork and beef.

My big question is how to cook this amount of meat and then hold it for 12 hours? Any other comments would be welcome.

Thanks.
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Unread 04-10-2009, 07:40 AM   #2
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Wow, that's alot of meat. Thinking of the butts only, you;d want to be able to cook most of them at onceish. Then I'd put them in foil and into a large holding device and pull them as needed. The mass of that meat should keep them warm enough. The other option is to do this all ahead, freeze and then reheat on site with lot's of ovens. Good luck bro. That's a lot of meat though my medium spicey. What are you cooking on? Scott
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Unread 04-10-2009, 08:13 AM   #3
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Dude! You need a Southern Pride, Old Hickory, or FEC750 (or two).

I agree with getting the meat done and in coolers/cambros. Have enough help to pull (screw brisket go with chuck for pulled beef. Foil will be your friend!) a couple of hundred pounds at "open" and then continuously through the day.

Good luck! Sounds like a killer weekend.
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Unread 04-10-2009, 08:45 AM   #4
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I will be using my Good-One T-60 to cook on and probably reheat also. This is in July so I have a couple months to plan this out.
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Unread 04-10-2009, 08:46 AM   #5
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You gonna need help Bryan? I would probably be available if so.
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Unread 04-10-2009, 08:47 AM   #6
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Does the bar owner have any kitchen facilities? If so cook ahead of time and cryovac. From there you could pull out and reheat and place in your chaffing dishes on the line. How much help you planning on having?
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Unread 04-10-2009, 08:58 AM   #7
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What about health codes? I know in Texas, if you don't have a commercial kitchen, you cannot cook the meat ahead of time. It must be cooked onsite.
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Unread 04-10-2009, 09:08 AM   #8
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Hook up with your local rental company and be prepared. Get yourself a few warming ovens to heat and hold the meat. Do not pull as you need. Have the stuff in hotel pans with a steam table and work station set up ready to slam it out. Pull full pans out of the warming ovens and right into the steam table. This will be the best way in my opinion. Have everything ready before they get there.
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Unread 04-10-2009, 09:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyle's BBQ View Post
I will be using my Good-One T-60 to cook on and probably reheat also. This is in July so I have a couple months to plan this out.
To borrow from Chief Brody in "Jaws": You're gonna need a bigger boat.

I have no idea what the "capacity" of your T-60 is but it's not 2000#. If you can get 200# in it that's 10 cook sessions plus prep time, storage for the holding meat, and then pulling.

I can turn over ready to serve pork in about 7-8 hours, but then I'm a Myron Mixon acolyte and advocate of the "gitt'er done" school of bbq catering. The most I've done is pulled pork for 400 and that was only about 4 cases of butts (around 280#).

So, round up some more cookers and lots of help. The other option is the cook, freeze, reheat - and there is nothing wrong with that - but you need LOTS of freezer space, plenty of oven space, and lots of help.

Good luck. It really does sound like fun!
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Unread 04-10-2009, 09:51 AM   #10
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I would say a bigger cooker. Besides you could probably pay for one just off the 90-95% you get to keep and turn this into an annual thing for yourself. With the right equipment and help it sounds like it could be a money maker for you. Just my .02 though.
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Unread 04-10-2009, 09:52 AM   #11
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Research man, you need to do lots more research to find out just how many you are going to serve. With that big a number, being off could be very costly. This event has been going for a long time so someone should have a pretty good idea of the number. Remember, not all will eat and many of those folks eat very little.

Good luck with this.
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Unread 04-10-2009, 10:13 AM   #12
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Let us know if we can help cook meat up a head of time for you.
We're cooking the Red, White and Que in Bellevue that weekend before. So if you bought the meat we wouldnt charge you anything and cook it friday when our smoker is 3/4 empty anyway.

Ragbrai is a pain but you can make some money. And I'd be charging more too, I dont think you can get a bottled water for $5.
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Unread 04-10-2009, 11:20 AM   #13
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Ask Mo about this. He did it last year serving his famous smoked cheese steak sandwiches.
Guess it was a mad house.
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Unread 04-15-2009, 03:44 PM   #14
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At first I thought you were going to say Mo rode on ragbrai!
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Unread 04-15-2009, 07:44 PM   #15
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Do the riders all come through in one bunch?? Are you counting on feeding 400 or so every hour for 12 hours? I have found that at big events like this people tend to come in big rushes at meal time. Most people do not want pulled pork or brisket for breakfast---so that narrows down the practical serving time also.

Five dollars for a sandwich and coleslaw seems very inexpensive to me, especially if you are going to share 5% orf the profit. Go to a McDonald's and see what you can get for $5.00---do not short change your own food. The only advantage to charging $5.00 per plate is that counting back change is easy. If you bump your price to $6.00 make sure that you have about $600 dollars in one dollar bills at close hand--Six dollar pricing will cause you to use a pile of one dollar bills for change.

If I was serving pulled pork and brisket ---I would have most of it cooked and pulled ahead of time and use my portable steam table to keep it warm. When I do large groups I try to cook something with a shorter cook time, and doesn't need pulling such as tri-tip or Top Block, and maybe chicken leg and thigh quarters.

I also use a lower end sandwich to help create profit--such as a hot link, bratwurst, polish sausage etc. These sandwiches often have a higher percentage profit---they cook very fast--They are not labor intensive because they don't need pulling---they do not take up much room in the smoker--and they serve quickly and easy. If you are helping the bar---sell hot links----hot links increase beer sales.

It is my opinion that slicing tri-tip or top block is less labor intensive than pulling pork--however the meat cost is higher. If you have friends and family that work cheap---then labor costs won't kill you. I have been told also that tri-tip is hard to find east of the Rockies.
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