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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 02-18-2010, 09:03 PM   #1
mostwanted
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Default Kitchen question

Hi all! Now that I can post here, I can ask the question that I have been wanting to ask!
According to our local, state, and what appears to be a federal food handling guidline it is not permissable to prepare foods offered to the public in your home kitchen. Ideally every caterer has access to a commercial kitchen but I don't think that is always the case. For those of you who do not own their own Restraunt, what methods do you use to prep? What is the definitionn of prepare? Does this include storage of supplies? Most of the actual prep and cooking for my targeted market would be done on-site however I would still need to do some prep and also store items somewhere. My better half and I are researching what we need to know to start a catering buisness. I have been Queing for 3 years now and enjoy the satisfaction when others enjoy my foods. We both have expieriance in the food industry and think this is somethng we would enjoy doing. We want to start small with maybe a concession trailer to take to street fairs, small gatherings, and events. Eventually, I would like to go to some big biker rallys as I am a motorcycle enthusist myself. Thoughts?
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Unread 02-19-2010, 07:21 AM   #2
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You might want to check out the posts on my trailer. Depending on what you want to vend a trailer can start at $25k and go way up.

To answer your question about prep, all my prep is done in my trailer, I store things in it or if packaged (paper towels, clamsheels) can be stored anywhere but food can only be in approved NSF frdige/freezer. And you can not use your home kitchen. If you cater to friends and by word of mouth you can get away without being approved. It limits you and is against the law but lots of people do it. To be legal you either rent a commercial kitchen or build your own.

Good luck.
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Unread 02-19-2010, 07:44 AM   #3
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Quote:
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You might want to check out the posts on my trailer. Depending on what you want to vend a trailer can start at $25k and go way up.

To answer your question about prep, all my prep is done in my trailer, I store things in it or if packaged (paper towels, clamsheels) can be stored anywhere but food can only be in approved NSF frdige/freezer. And you can not use your home kitchen. If you cater to friends and by word of mouth you can get away without being approved. It limits you and is against the law but lots of people do it. To be legal you either rent a commercial kitchen or build your own.

Good luck.
I would recommend starting with a trailer that meets the requirements of your local HD. It doesn't have to be a huge trailer, just large enough to handle the capacity of food you intend on cooking. Personally, I'd limit my appliances to my menu so that have enough functional space to work.
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Unread 02-19-2010, 07:49 AM   #4
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To be legal you either rent a commercial kitchen or build your own.
By buiding your own, do you mean on my property, with-in my home, etc? By home kitchen, do they mean residential zoned property?
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Unread 02-19-2010, 07:52 AM   #5
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Every county is different
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Unread 02-19-2010, 08:15 AM   #6
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By buiding your own, do you mean on my property, with-in my home, etc? By home kitchen, do they mean residential zoned property?
An outbuilding probably. Saw pics here somewhere of one Brethren redoing his garage to be a kitchen. Key is outside the home for most local HD's. Of coruse you would need to be OK zoning wise as well. You'll spend more than a trailer if you need to run gas, water, sewer, electric.

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Every county is different
Now that's the truth
If you go trailer I can strongly recommend Extreme BBQ Trailers. Great quality and James knows what needs to be considered when designing a unit. Get plans and get them approved by the HD before building unless you know the rules for sure.
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Unread 02-19-2010, 08:19 AM   #7
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Eventually, I would like to go to some big biker rallys as I am a motorcycle enthusist myself. Thoughts?
Just remember that each State will require inspections and some States do it by county. So if you wanted to do Sturgis you'd need to be approvedto vend there. That means overbuilding a trailer so it can meet the tough HD codes even if you're more relaxed in MO. Water system is a big item to consider for over building.
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Unread 02-19-2010, 08:25 AM   #8
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I had some other ideas as well. I don't/ will not have a lot of capitol to start with. I tend to do things on the cheap which may mean more headaches in the long run, but a little easier on the wallet. One idea was to "remodel" a RV with prep and storage area. A motor home capable of towing a concession trailer and/or smoker could double as prep area and sleeping quarters while traveling. Additionally, a motorhome could suffice as the basics for what I need to get started without the concession trailer while just towing a smoker and setting up a tent with tables for serving.
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Unread 02-19-2010, 08:32 AM   #9
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Just remember that each State will require inspections and some States do it by county. So if you wanted to do Sturgis you'd need to be approvedto vend there. That means overbuilding a trailer so it can meet the tough HD codes even if you're more relaxed in MO. Water system is a big item to consider for over building.

That makes sense. If one was vending out of state, how are they to know where basic prep and storage is taking place?

Thank you for your help and input on my questions. My wife owned her own restaurant a few years ago, so she has a bit of knowledge of HD regulations as well. Additionally, she is a great cook!! I love forums such as these where people are willing to provide input even if it means the possibility of competition! We all share a common interest- great bbq and good, quality food.
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Unread 02-19-2010, 08:38 AM   #10
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My point is prep and storage must be done in the trailer in most cases.
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Unread 02-19-2010, 09:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mostwanted View Post
I had some other ideas as well. I don't/ will not have a lot of capitol to start with. I tend to do things on the cheap which may mean more headaches in the long run, but a little easier on the wallet. One idea was to "remodel" a RV with prep and storage area. A motor home capable of towing a concession trailer and/or smoker could double as prep area and sleeping quarters while traveling. Additionally, a motorhome could suffice as the basics for what I need to get started without the concession trailer while just towing a smoker and setting up a tent with tables for serving.
Before you remodel anything get your idea/plan approved by the HD. You will not be allowed to have a food prep/cooking area combined with a living/sleeping quarters with out building a partition wall to seperate the two. It's ok for family, but not for feeding the public.
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Unread 02-19-2010, 12:15 PM   #12
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Right on James. HE would need to gut the RV and redo the interior and if it is used for food prep then it also needs HD approval. Easier to get a used concession trailer.

For vending there's just no cheap start really other than soem States that allow roadside vcending using just an EZUP with a few things for prep and cleaning and a smoker. It can be done but as soon as you get a trailer involved all the shortcuts go away. Have 3 friends here in MI that vendwith EZUP but have very limited menu and locations.
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Unread 02-19-2010, 02:15 PM   #13
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in nj you could build a kitchen in your garage as long as you block off the entrance from the house to the garage and have a entrance into the garage other than the garage door.
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Unread 02-25-2010, 11:02 PM   #14
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Every State is probably a little bit different. In TN a mobile kitchen must operate out of a "commissary". As long as your actual food prep and cooking is done in the mobile kitchen, the commissary becomes simply a storage facility. In this case the regs are pretty simple... must have self closing doors to all outside doors, rodent proof.... etc.
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