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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 07-28-2013, 12:16 PM   #1
Hardluck
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Default HELP! Im in big...lol

I have done a handfull of cooks for money but im entering in to a world I know nothing about. I was asked to set up at a local festival that is pretty big. I need to know the best way to hold my food at safe temp without drying or overcooking(butts and ribs). also best way to hold slaw? on ice ot in a refrig? I have no idea how much food to even cook? I may be in over my head here... any help would be great!...

I have already talked to local health department,My Insurance company and state IRS. and I will be insured with liscense and HD inspected before I start!
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Unread 07-28-2013, 02:27 PM   #2
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Find out more about your event so you have a better idea of the quantity of food you need. There are specific time and temp requirements you'll need to meet to be safe which If you don't already know that information you may be in over your head! I just finished my Certified Food Service managers class and certification so I have all the info fresh in my head and in writing and would be willing to help you if I can!!
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Unread 07-28-2013, 03:39 PM   #3
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What equipment do you have available? What type of vending set up will you have? For butts, keep them whole as long as possible. Even if you don't use them right away. I reheat my whole butts to over 160*F and hole that way until I am ready to use them. When you reheat the butts, save the drippings from the pan for moisture later.

Ribs are tricky. For a large event, I would cook as many ahead as you can hold in refrigeration and just reheat on a smoker at the event.

Coleslaw will depend on your equipment and setup.

If you need help on a setup, PM me. I vend at farmers markets on a small scale, but have done several events with 30,000+ people.
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Unread 07-28-2013, 04:20 PM   #4
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Thanks guys, Mike I do have the temp requirements which is why I was asking holding temp questions.

Pyles BBQ, I will have one residential fridge and several coolers for cooling. I will have a couple trailer smokers for cooking. I want to fix my ribs Johnny Trigg style. You think I should cook up a bunch the first day of the 3 day event? It will be a slow day until the evening.
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Unread 07-28-2013, 07:15 PM   #5
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Are you under a canopy or in a trailer or what? Asuming you are under a canopy see if they will let you use chafers to hot hold your pulled pork. As for slaw I'd break it down in to 4oz Styrofoam containers in a refrig if possible. How ever you do it you need to be able to maintain proper temps.

Figure out how many people will be there and cook for 10% of that Example - if they expect 1000 then cook enough for 100. If you make through the day ok then grow from there. Good Luck
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Unread 07-28-2013, 08:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HBMTN View Post
Are you under a canopy or in a trailer or what? Asuming you are under a canopy see if they will let you use chafers to hot hold your pulled pork. As for slaw I'd break it down in to 4oz Styrofoam containers in a refrig if possible. How ever you do it you need to be able to maintain proper temps.

Figure out how many people will be there and cook for 10% of that Example - if they expect 1000 then cook enough for 100. If you make through the day ok then grow from there. Good Luck
good advice! thank you and yes im under canopy
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Unread 07-30-2013, 03:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardluck View Post
Pyles BBQ, I will have one residential fridge and several coolers for cooling.
Unless your only putting food that's at 40 and not opening the fridge very often, I wouldn't even bother with a resi fridge. It can't recover in time to do you any good. You're better off with ice chests and lots of ice.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 06:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardluck View Post
I have done a handfull of cooks for money but im entering in to a world I know nothing about. I was asked to set up at a local festival that is pretty big. I need to know the best way to hold my food at safe temp without drying or overcooking(butts and ribs). also best way to hold slaw? on ice ot in a refrig? I have no idea how much food to even cook? I may be in over my head here... any help would be great!...

I have already talked to local health department,My Insurance company and state IRS. and I will be insured with liscense and HD inspected before I start!
Gotta ask, WHY?

I know everybodys gotta start somewhere but why on earth would you do a festival having zero experience?

I gotta believe once you talk to your HD you may see the light as to why this is left up to the professionals.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 07:18 PM   #9
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You said it.... You gotta start somewhere. ....

I have talked to the HD already and YES I talked to my insurance company and YES I talked to the Income tax people....
I am disappointed in the "Professionals" lack of interest in trying to help someone....Seems they only wanna tell me im stupid?.... Trade Secrets I guess!! (Thanks to everyone who attempted to help me)
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Unread 07-30-2013, 07:41 PM   #10
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I asked questions to give you answers!
Had you answered with amount of people, quantity of food needed and duration of event instead of the fact you knew the temps, that's why you asked the questions I'm sure there are many that would give you good, positive advice! Just my opinion!!
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Unread 07-30-2013, 07:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdsgpro View Post
I asked questions to give you answers!
Had you answered with amount of people, quantity of food needed and duration of event instead of the fact you knew the temps, that's why you asked the questions I'm sure there are many that would give you good, positive advice! Just my opinion!!
Mike
.. I appericated the fact you were willing to help I just dont know any additional information to give it to you...I am learing more stuff about it each day. I was not trying to be rude to anyone please dont take it that way I even gave you the thumbs up "thanks" after the post...
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Unread 07-30-2013, 07:51 PM   #12
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Well, a definite congrats.
I have to agree with BBQ Bubba though. A big festival may not be the smartest place to start. I understand "BiG" is relative. County fairs in MN and TX are bigger than state fairs in most other states.
Talk to those that run the festival, and get some contact info for vendors that have been there previously. Buy them a cup of coffee and get some serious answers that will save your ass. Expected head count; how much do they expect to sell; is their menu 10 items or just 5(compare with yours); how much cash to have for change; equipment tips (maybe they are full time and would rent some to ya); and so many more questions.
To hold pulled pork at temp without drying, keep them wrapped in foil inside a thermo box (hot box). As soon as you pull pork or slice brisket it starts to dry. Keep it whole and wrapped as long as possible.
Checklists, prep, and planning will make it as simple as you can get it. That may not make be very simple, just as simple as its gonna get.
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Unread 07-30-2013, 07:58 PM   #13
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THANK YOU MOE!!! Great advice and a great place to start,I will do just that! Thanks again
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Unread 07-31-2013, 01:23 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardluck View Post
I have done a handfull of cooks for money but im entering in to a world I know nothing about. I was asked to set up at a local festival that is pretty big. I need to know the best way to hold my food at safe temp without drying or overcooking(butts and ribs). also best way to hold slaw? on ice ot in a refrig? I have no idea how much food to even cook? I may be in over my head here... any help would be great!...

I have already talked to local health department,My Insurance company and state IRS. and I will be insured with liscense and HD inspected before I start!

We also started out at a festival and had no prior experience so I feel your pain.

Holding cold food: As stated earlier a non-commercial refrigerator will not recover temp fast enough if opened frequently. This can create a hazard for cold items. Since you already spoke with your HD I am assuming they have approved the use of the non-commercial fridge. They should be able to give you information on what types of cold-hold methods you can use at a festival. That is where we got our information for our event. The HD official spelled out what equipment could and could not be used. The issue you run into with ice is that the food product cannot come in direct contact with the ice or there is a risk of cross contamination.

Holding hot food: We use commercial counter top warmers. This link shows the brand/model we use. http://tinyurl.com/kfmro4o We use one of these for pork and one for brisket with full-size 5" deep restaurant pans. This makes it easy to fill new pans and drop them in as needed. We use a third unit with two half-size 5" deep pans to serve sides from. This assumes you have electricity available at your booth. For bulk holding we use our Backwoods Smoker Competitors to cook and keep bulk product ready for the hot/hold pans. As mentioned by another Brother earlier we also only pull/cut what will fit in our hot/hold units unless the pace is quick and then we will pull/cut extra and cover the pans with foil and keep them in one of the Competitors. Pulled pork/brisket is the best type of item to serve at festivals since it makes into a sandwich and the consumer finds this easier to handle while moving around the festival grounds. I wish you well on serving ribs at this type of event. We tried it one time and have never done it again. Too many variables for us to contend with so it just wasn't worth it. And the profit margin was much lower also. I am not attempting to discourage you from serving ribs but just be aware of the extra effort for less profit that this type item brings in a festival setting.

Amount of meats to cook: As others have wisely stated this is somewhat of a crap shoot. IF the event does not have any quantity requirements (yes, some actually do) and IF the event does not state that you must not run out before a specific length of time (yes, some do that also) then I suggest that you cook to run out the first day and then adjust up for successive days. It is better to sell out than to have to waste product. As others have stated you should do your due diligence by talking to the event coordinators, any other vendors that you can contact, etc to try to ascertain how many people they expect to attend. What percent of that total that will purchase from you is a factor of how many other food vendors, that sell similar products to yours, that will be there. You can adjust your prep for the following days based on the first days sales.

Sides: We sell Cole Slaw, Smoked Baked Beans & Country Creamed Corn. We prepackage a set amount of these items, just prior to service beginning, in 6oz Dart styrofoam cups (w/lids) and pack them into coolers. (with a 1/4" air gap at the top of the cup there is only approx 4 oz servings in these cups) One cooler (with ice in the bottom) for the Cole Slaw and one cooler for the Beans/Corn. As the numbers are drawn down by sales we replace with more packages filled from our Hot/Hold table top unit. The event we do annually brings in approx 3-4 thousand people and we sell approx 300 "meals" during a 6 hour period. It is a one day event. We usually prepackage 30 cups of Beans & Corn, and approx 60 cups of slaw due to, to start the service. We are cooking corn and beans during the event so that is why we prepackage less of these items. The slaw is made ahead and therefore can be prepackaged in more of a bulk fashion.

If you are selling beverages stick to bottled water unless you have a source that will take back canned beverages that you don't sell. Otherwise you may end up with a LOT of soda to drink at home over the following months.

It feels like I just wrote a novel. LOL I hope this helps in some small fashion.

Let us know how it turns out!!
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Unread 07-31-2013, 06:31 AM   #15
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Bizznessman thanks for the novel! Lol... Lots of great information there!!! I read it twice to let it soak in.... Makes since with the fridge, I may scrap that idea and stick with coolers... I don't see anything in the paperwork about running out of food, your suggestion is kinda what me and my 2 partners were thinking.... SAMs club is only a few miles away! The pre packing of sides is a must, Great idea! I am going to call a rental place today and check on renting the commercial warmer and a cambro.... I agree 100% about the ribs being a crap shoot i am going to practice run a case of ribs this weekend and see what I think?
Thanks again for your help!!
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