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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 09-01-2010, 08:07 PM   #1
TheMidnightSmoker
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Default Catering Rig. What do I need

I have been dreaming about catering for almost a year now and I need to put my plan in motion. I have developed my skills by cooking on a BDS and several Webers. I have done a few small to medium size events for church and friends and so far the BDS has done the job. I am looking at off-set trailer smokers such as the Meadow Creek or Lang but also cabinet smokers such as the Backwoods. I know that with onsite cooking the people expect to see a huge off-set cooker smoking away. Do you guys find this to be true? Do any of you cater onsite with a Backwoods or other cooker besides an off-set? What are you doing your onsite events with?
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Unread 09-01-2010, 08:34 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMidnightSmoker View Post
I have been dreaming about catering for almost a year now and I need to put my plan in motion. I have developed my skills by cooking on a BDS and several Webers. I have done a few small to medium size events for church and friends and so far the BDS has done the job. I am looking at off-set trailer smokers such as the Meadow Creek or Lang but also cabinet smokers such as the Backwoods. I know that with onsite cooking the people expect to see a huge off-set cooker smoking away. Do you guys find this to be true? Do any of you cater onsite with a Backwoods or other cooker besides an off-set? What are you doing your onsite events with?
Aside from the usual direction around Health Dept., Bus License, Tax ID, and Insurances...

For onsite cooking, I have never experienced any expectation of a "big offset" cooker. IMHO, they require a lot of fuel an tending - Something that takes time away from other areas that need your full attention on a catering job. We cook on a Large Spicewine, and we spend a ton of time talking to people about it, how it works, etc. For any caterer, the expectation is good food, a clean caterer, and value for the money spent.

My encouragement once you've jumped thru all the HD, Ins, etc hoops - Find a cooker you are comfortable with, that will meet your needs for producing the amount of food you will need to meet your customer's requests. More important than a second smoker, would be a grill - Santa Maria, Weber Ranch Kettle, Belson type gasser - Anything that will allow you to turn out quantity of grilled food (Chicken, tri tip, sausage).

If possible, get a "purpose built" trailer, like an Extreme or similar. Right tool for the right job makes all the difference. Good luck!
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Unread 09-01-2010, 11:37 PM   #3
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I would highly recommend looking at the meadow creek caterer's delight series, We use the CD-108G which is their 5' gas pig roaster and 42 inch chicken cooker. We had the pig roaster modified with an offset firebox, so we burn gas to maintain the heat, and use the offset box to get the smoke. With the second tier rack, it has a very good capacity to it. We even had a griddle made to fit the chicken cooker that we can knock out breakfast on as well as cheese steaks, etc. It is our go to rig for catering, we have 4 trailered pits and that one gets use more than any of them. I've never seen where a customer was expecting to see a big tank style smoker on site, as long as you are producing top notch food, they'll be happy. Good luck and if you have any questions, give me a shout. Good Luck.
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Unread 09-02-2010, 12:09 AM   #4
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Would love to see some pics of your modified Meadowcreek.

Sorry to hijack the thread.

Pete


Quote:
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I would highly recommend looking at the meadow creek caterer's delight series, We use the CD-108G which is their 5' gas pig roaster and 42 inch chicken cooker. We had the pig roaster modified with an offset firebox, so we burn gas to maintain the heat, and use the offset box to get the smoke. With the second tier rack, it has a very good capacity to it. We even had a griddle made to fit the chicken cooker that we can knock out breakfast on as well as cheese steaks, etc. It is our go to rig for catering, we have 4 trailered pits and that one gets use more than any of them. I've never seen where a customer was expecting to see a big tank style smoker on site, as long as you are producing top notch food, they'll be happy. Good luck and if you have any questions, give me a shout. Good Luck.
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Unread 09-02-2010, 12:29 AM   #5
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Chris: I humbly disagree about the offset, cuz my smoke smells mo betta

Just get a pit bitch like, Country, lol!

Offsets are more Pavlovian
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Unread 09-02-2010, 12:39 AM   #6
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Spicewine guy here also. I have 2 now and am looking at getting another one. It's always good to have something eye catching but eye catching and efficient works better for catering. Do you really want to have to stop making your mac & cheese to go put another log in your stickburner?
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Unread 09-02-2010, 01:05 AM   #7
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Agree with something insulated that takes less work to maintain temp. We use an FEC100 and love it.
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Unread 09-02-2010, 12:10 PM   #8
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I use a backwoods fatboy and competitor and have had no problems in wind rain or shine.
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Unread 09-02-2010, 12:43 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the input guys. I really respect your knowledge and appreciate your willing to share it. Would someone be willing to explain to me how the Spicewine works? What I mean by that is how the heat and smoke flow thru and out of the smoker. It is very important to me to understand the method by which the cooker operates. For instance, I like the fact that Lang and Meadow Creek smokers use reverse flow. I think that allows for a more even heat distrubution.I also read that the the Stumps uses a gravity feed system. With this method the heat and smoke enter the cooking chamber at the bottom right and may, in my humble opinion, create an uneven heat flow. I would really appreciate any info on the SpiceWine that I can get. Thanks again
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Unread 09-02-2010, 12:57 PM   #10
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Remember you are going to need to do more grilling than smoking in most cases so consider adding a big grill such as a Santa maria to your arsenal.

My Meat beast is a smoker / grill with room for hot holding..

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Unread 09-02-2010, 01:41 PM   #11
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How about an Extreme BBQ Trailer with a Southern Pride
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Unread 09-02-2010, 05:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fireman_pete View Post
Would love to see some pics of your modified Meadowcreek.

Sorry to hijack the thread.

Pete
I'll take a look later when I have more time for photos, but all it is, is a simple box that goes the entire length on the backside of a meadow creek pr-60, with holes that lead into the main cooking chamber, allows you the conveince of gas for holding temps, but the option to induce smoke into the chamber,, works really well.
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Unread 09-03-2010, 08:21 PM   #13
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I have a custom offset cooker and cater often. Most of the time I am asked to deliver or they will pick up from me. The only time I tend to use my large smoker is for weddings and large parties. Lately for smaller parties I am using my Primo XL.

I recommend to start small and build up business then invest the money to a bigger rig. It is always easier to get bigger but harder to shell out big cash and hope the business comes.

Here is my rig I built.



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Unread 09-06-2010, 08:57 PM   #14
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Put an FEC500 on a trailer. We love ours, and we sleep nights.
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Unread 09-06-2010, 09:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by big brother smoke View Post

Offsets are more Pavlovian
I agree 100%, especially here in the South where BBQ = black iron.

That's why when we vend, we usually pre-cook in a Southern Pride a day in advance and sleep all night. Then we speed chill and transport butts in coolers on ice. On site, we pop them into a stick burner to heat to serving temp.

Plenty of smoke show for the public, minimal waste for us as we only re-heat as much as we need to handle demand.
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