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BBQ Catering

Adding barbeque to your catering services

Why is barbeque a great choice for catering? People love it! With a renewal of American spirit and a desire for sustainable down home meals, the classic American barbeque is a popular choice for any occasion. Barbeque is included in the top ten growing restaurant trends, as well as the fastest growing catered wedding reception food in the United States. As Dotty Griffith states in her book, Celebrating Barbeque, "If Congress decided to declare a national dish, barbecue should win by acclamation." With this popular trend, it is no wonder that adding barbeque catering to your list of services makes sense.

Getting started in barbeque catering is much the same as with any catering business. You need to develop a business plan. Outside of the monetary, marketing, and licensing issues related to any business venture, things to take into consideration include types of events, special equipment and food choices.

Barbeque is usually a casual affair, however, it is by no means limited to the family picnic or reunions. Barbeques are a popular way to celebrate graduations, anniversaries, employee recognitions, birthdays, holidays, weddings, openings, and a multitude of other special events hosted by individuals, families, neighborhoods, and businesses. As with most catering services, it is best to start off small. Decide what types of events are doable. Consider the location, size of the group, and available facilities. Remember you will be cooking and serving outdoors, which comes with a unique set of challenges. You will need to pay attention to access to water and electricity, as well as ease of setting up grills, coolers and equipment.

Barbeque Equipment

Special equipment for barbeque catering begins with the grill. These come in a wide variety of designs and models, from inexpensive charcoal and wood cookers to deluxe limo gas models that cost thousands of dollars. The type of grill you invest in depends on your cooking style and outdoor cooking needs. Natural gas bbq grills are growing in popularity because of their clean burn, convenience, and value.

Grills and outdoor cookers can be purchased with a multitude of options, including side burners, smoker boxes, griddles, rotisseries, and prep areas. All these are extras, but not necessary to start a successful business. Other barbeque specialty equipment includes:
  • Basting brushes
  • Cook mitts—long to protect arms from heat
  • Coolers or refrigeration units
  • Long handled utensils including fork, spatula, and tongs
  • Aprons and hats—consider advertising your catering business on these!
  • Meat thermometers
  • Sauce Pans
  • Barbeque baskets for vegetables, burgers, and hotdogs
  • Grill Cleaning products
  • Grill light for parties that may last after dark
Choosing the food options you will offer is great fun. There are a tremendous amount of books, articles, and websites devoted to barbeque recipes, techniques, and tips. You will find people have strong pride and opinions when it comes to barbeque!

Barbeque Styles

Each region of the country has developed its own special style of barbeque. Theses styles differ by the kind of meat, method of cooking, and most importantly, the type of barbeque sauce. Methods and recipes have been handed down for generations and evolving from regional ingredients. The following are general descriptions of a few of the most well-known barbeque styles.

Carolina Barbeque—Pork is the preferred meat. Oak and hickory smoke is common. Sauce emphasizes a peppery vinegar flavor. South Carolina is famous for its Carolina Gold, a sauce with mustard as an ingredient.

Kansas City;Meat is dry rubbed with spices and smoked before cooking. Sauce is thick and sweet and served as a table sauce. This sauce is the top selling variety of bottled sauces.

Memphis Barbeque;Pulled pork and ribs are the favorite meats often cooked over charcoal and basted with a peppery tomato sauce sweetened with molasses.

Texas Barbecue—Texas barbeque varies by region. However, throughout the state beef, ribs, and sausage are popular. Mesquite is often used in grilling for a unique flavor. The sauce is generally thick and sweet with a rich tomato base.

Hawaiian Barbeque;The popular luau is a barbeque party that serves pork, fish, and/or chicken. The meats are often cooked wrapped in taro or ti leaves. A sweet teriyaki sauce is used made with pineapple.

As a caterer you will need to consider what style of barbeque is popular in your region. Start out with a few recipes and keep choices simple. You can add selections as your business takes off. One essential ingredient, however, will be your sauce! Take time to make this recipe your own signature. Try it out on lots of willing folks to make sure it holds just the right balance of sweet, tart, and spicy.

In addition to meats, sides are also regional. Choices include hush puppies, coleslaw and salads, relishes, veggies, beans, corn bread, and fries. The sides you serve will be accepted no matter the region as long as they are fresh and homemade. As Jason Sheehan observed on NPR's "All Things Considered";, (May 29, 2006, "There's No Such Thing as Too Much Barbecu");I believe that good barbecue needs sides the way good blues need rhythm, and that there is only one rule: Serve whatever you like, but whatever you serve, make it fresh."

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