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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 05-06-2010, 04:06 PM   #1
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Default Catering and going whole hog?

We just opened our BBQ catering business this month, I am getting plenty of calls for pulled pork catering but I am also getting a lot of calls for whole hogs. I am not set up for whole hogs this year, think I might get a bigger cooker for next year to do hogs. Those that cook whole hogs, do you charge more for whole hog than say doing butts/pulled pork? What do you get for a whole hog for 150 people vs. pulled pork for 150 people? If you were staying busy with pulled pork would you forget the whole hogs, or would you rather do hogs?

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Unread 05-12-2010, 01:24 PM   #2
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We charge much more for whole hog than pork butt. Think about it like this- the butcher I get my hogs from charges about $2.30/lb for a cleaned hog on the hook, or about double what pork butts go for depending on where you get them. Then you only get about 50-60% yield from a whole hog as opposed to 80%+ from pork butts. Then there's the labor issue. In my pit a 130-180 lb hog takes in the 20 hour range to cook and it has to be moved 4 times during cooking, as opposed to butts which take 8-10 hours and never get moved. We also serve our hogs on the buffet line, carving slices for the guests. If you were to pre-shred all the meat, who would know the differnece from whole hog or butts other than the white meat in the pans? And in actuallity, I think pork butt tastes better anyway. So if you do whole hogs the client is paying for the show more than the Q. I typically charge in the $20-25/person range for whole hog (including all the sides) depending on the number of guests. This scares away many clients who then opt for pork butts. It's just a lot more work and expense. Unless you have a source to get hogs for a great price and a set it and forget it pit, It's a tough gig to pull off.
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Unread 05-12-2010, 03:41 PM   #3
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Whole hog for catering with a difference. Take the whole hog and debone the spine and ribs, and the legs if you want to, being careful to not cut the skin when taking out the spine. Then fill the cavity with a pork loin roast that you rubbed and use twine to close up the cavity. Now smoke it and when it is ready you can make slices completely through the hog. The result is that you get way more meat to serve which will allow you to do more people per hog.
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Unread 05-12-2010, 04:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theflints01 View Post
We charge much more for whole hog than pork butt. Think about it like this- the butcher I get my hogs from charges about $2.30/lb for a cleaned hog on the hook, or about double what pork butts go for depending on where you get them. Then you only get about 50-60% yield from a whole hog as opposed to 80%+ from pork butts. Then there's the labor issue. In my pit a 130-180 lb hog takes in the 20 hour range to cook and it has to be moved 4 times during cooking, as opposed to butts which take 8-10 hours and never get moved. We also serve our hogs on the buffet line, carving slices for the guests. If you were to pre-shred all the meat, who would know the differnece from whole hog or butts other than the white meat in the pans? And in actuallity, I think pork butt tastes better anyway. So if you do whole hogs the client is paying for the show more than the Q. I typically charge in the $20-25/person range for whole hog (including all the sides) depending on the number of guests. This scares away many clients who then opt for pork butts. It's just a lot more work and expense. Unless you have a source to get hogs for a great price and a set it and forget it pit, It's a tough gig to pull off.
Sean
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How do you get 80%+ yield from pork butts?
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Unread 05-12-2010, 04:37 PM   #5
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My thoughts exactly. Those percentages seem about 20% high to me.
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Unread 05-12-2010, 08:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurtsara View Post
How do you get 80%+ yield from pork butts?
Very Very Carefully!!!!!!
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Unread 05-17-2010, 06:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HogBack Mtn Comp BBQ Team View Post
We just opened our BBQ catering business this month, I am getting plenty of calls for pulled pork catering but I am also getting a lot of calls for whole hogs. I am not set up for whole hogs this year, think I might get a bigger cooker for next year to do hogs. Those that cook whole hogs, do you charge more for whole hog than say doing butts/pulled pork? What do you get for a whole hog for 150 people vs. pulled pork for 150 people? If you were staying busy with pulled pork would you forget the whole hogs, or would you rather do hogs?

Thanks

Ruben
good for you congrats on starting catering. ive been wanting to . was it expensive to get started?
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Unread 05-17-2010, 08:17 PM   #8
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I charge extra to cook a whole pig because of the time involved. Our local connection to get pigs sells them for $1.50 per pound--but that is deceiving because they weigh the whole pig before it is killed.

I have owned a few different pig cookers, I have always preferred to smoke a whole hog, however-the guests at functions that I have catered always want to "see" the pig and take pictures etc. Opening a smoker to show guests the pig is really a killer on heat control and time cooking. I have gone to an open pit with a rottiserre and cook the pig in the open for everyone to see. The guests always love this set up and plenty of pictures are taken ---the pig is always visible and is part of the ambieance of the party. The open pit is a higher temp than smoking and it cooks faster. I cook the pig over oak wood coals.

My cooker will only take a pig that is less than 150 pounds---I can feed about 75 people with that size pig due to weight loss from butchering and shrinkage and bone weight. If there are more people than that I supplement the whole hog with pork butts in the smoker. I carve the pig right at the serving table and I put the carved meat into a chafing tray that has the supplemental pulled pork in it. People take what they think looks good.

The pig rotating on the open pit is a centerpiece for the folks to enjoy. I think that about 90% of the catering gigs with a whole pig are Hawaiian themed parties. It is boring during the long hours that the pig is cooking before the guests arrive. It is not boring when the grass skirts and coconuts start arriving and gawking at the pig.
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Unread 05-17-2010, 08:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
good for you congrats on starting catering. ive been wanting to . was it expensive to get started?
I am sure different states require different things and also people go about it in different ways. With things I already had like a large bbq pit, ect. I spent 30-40k It could be done cheaper I am sure, but that is how I did it.
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Unread 05-23-2010, 11:23 PM   #10
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When I started catering BBQ I went into the local market with the idea of introducing the on-site "competition" sampler sort of meal. The market and economy locally isn't in the right place, but there is a demand for pig roasts.

In 1 hour in any direction I only have 2 commercial competitors (meat markets with their own on-sight capabilities) but they often push people into the carry out (pig in a box) they do in their commercial smoke houses.

It seems the local Pig Guys skipped a generation around Northern IL. I'm coming to terms with and starting to accept being the "Pig Guy" instead of the Q dude.

Price wise I charge less for a whole pig roast than I do for multi-meat catered gigs. (Consider my hobby/business is a one-man show)
Handling, preparing, cooking multiple cuts and types of meats requires more time/focus/labor. When I do a whole pig roast I've only got one cut to handle and cook. Serving time, same thing - multiple cuts vs. one cut.

The more cuts of meat, types of meats, and sides, etc - the more labor is involved. If they want more than a one-man show can provide, I've got things lined up but costs go up considerably.

My experience in the past 2 years seems about par with alot of what I read on these forums, ie: seems to me the average gig is around 100 people. That works very well with a 100# whole roasting pig (which is a very readily available and typical size/weight for dressed whole roasters), keeps cooking time to around 12 to 14 hours with my MeadowCreek smoking at 230degrees.

Another benefit of doing whole roasting pigs? Slow and low smoking in my reverse flow is hard to screw up and whole pigs are hard to over cook. I've cooked in snow, subzero temps, heavy rains, high winds, and combinations of many of those. Every pig has been ready ahead of the mark, drippingly juicy, fall apart tender and usually not around long after.

I'm rather enjoying becoming the local Pig Guy and cooking other serious Q for competitions, family, and friends.
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Unread 05-24-2010, 12:39 PM   #11
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nice. that sounds like it is alot of fun.
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Unread 05-24-2010, 07:42 PM   #12
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How about hog vs. butts though? What I would like to know is if whole hog events are more profitable than just doing pulled pork. I have had many calls for hogs, I don't currently do them but if it was worth it I would get into it. I was hoping to find someone on here who does both and would have an opinion about it. Sort of like if a client called you up to feed 150 pork would you rather do a whole hog vs butts? Which has more profit and why? How much more work is a whole hog (if any) than butts?

I have only cooked one hog it was a lot of work but I caught it out of the field, wrestled it onto a truck, took it to a slaughter house and then cooked it in severe wind and rain. All just to say I had done it. I guess what I am saying is that in my location I can get enough whole hog business to stay booked full. Knowing that should I get into it or stay with pulled pork? I am doing good with pulled pork as well.
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Unread 08-04-2010, 08:04 PM   #13
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You have to charge much more for a whole hog. Pork butts cost around $1.20#. 100# roasting pigs around here cost about $1.85#. Yield of each is about 50%. More time consuming to roast a pig. Plus it is a lot easier to shop for butts. Travel time and money to acquire the pig need to be factored in. Much more work to prep, cook, serve the whole pig. I marinate inside over night then stuff with fruit and sew shut before it starts to spin. Pig is spun in an enclosed cooker. The doors are open for show the last hour or two. Pig is pretty much finished before showing hour.

Side note: Smaller the pig the more they cost per pound. This week's prices in NE Ohio, 20-30# = $3.49/lb, 31-55 = $2.45, 80-100# = $1.84/lb, 101-120# = $1.79
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Unread 08-05-2010, 06:17 PM   #14
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If there is a consistent market do both. Set up your websiite with two different names such as: Simply Marvelous BBQ and Ventura Pig Roasters. Have both sites go to one destination.
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Unread 08-06-2010, 11:34 PM   #15
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Verdad!
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