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Cooking for 300 and have a few questions

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
So I did some looking on here and found the thread with the SoEzzy's Cattering Spreadsheet. Ive been looking at it and it seems simple I just have a few questions about the spreadsheet and maybe a few others not about the spreadsheet.

So the person who is asking me to cook for our swim team awards banquet has asked for two meats pulled pork and drum sticks. I was sort of able to figure out pricing for pulled pork and the pricing for drum sticks. But how do I figure out pricing for both? I was thinking about 200 people for drum sticks and 100 for pulled pork. Do I figure the price I want to charge separately one for each meat and then add together, Or when i enter in the two meat option then add in the total of the two prices?

The spreadsheet says that feeding 200 people drumsticks I should charge something like $675 and around $200 to feed 100 people pulled pork.

Since I'm not selling food per plate but as a whole should I charge a percentage of what I would spend on the meat? Say as a nice easy number I spend $100 on chicken what should I ask for from the person holding the event? Sorry if this doesn't make any sense. This is the first time I've ever done anything like this for money. I usually just cook the food for a party and don't think about how to make money from what I do.
post #2 of 5

Whoa.  Maybe I'm not reading this right and I'm not familiar with that calculator, but -- $200 to feed 100 people pulled pork?  That's $2.00/pp?  A sandwich at the road side stand is going to be $6-$7 per.  OK take away the $0.25 roll if you are using plates and $2 is  still not reasonable in my opinion.

Also watch your portion size.  Are you going to stand there and meter out portions?  People who really like pulled pork will load a plate with 1/2 or 3/4 pound and think nothing of it.  Some will want a drumstick -and- some pork - who tells them No?

Drumsticks here in Maryland are running $.75-$80 / pound, I don't know how many are in a pound but it's got to be several.

BTW without looking I suspect that calculator only calculates the meat.  Who is buying the plates, napkins, BBQ sauce, bread, charcoal, your gas.

Bottom line for me is your numbers sound -low-.

Tell you what, get 2 quotes from local caterers and then look at backing off from those numbers according to how nice a guy you want to be for the swim team.




post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Yeah after I posted this thread I thought about it more and decided it was best to pass on this. While all I would have to do is supply the meat. That's a LOT of meat to cook. Even if I could cook 4-6 10 pound butts at a time it would be several cooks that I would need to do. And at this point I have a small barrel shaped smoker that can cook two 10 pounders at a time. I'm just gonna stick with the 30 person party which is way easier to do.
post #4 of 5

I have done more than several large cooks now including multiple meats. Did a grad party for 300 a few weeks ago serving turkey breasts, pulled pork and baby backs. The only thing I did on site were the ribs. I did 100lbs of pork butts which translated into about 60 to 70lbs of sandwich meat. 50 lbs of turkey breasts and 40 extra meaty racks of pork loin back ribs.

I also did a full size hotel pan of dutch's beans. There were other salads etc. not provided by me. I did the pork 2 weeks in advance. Bagged and frozen until the day before the party. Did the turkey the night before. Sliced, bagged and refridgerated. Rewarmed both meats in roasting pans.


Did a wedding last weekend with pulled pork, double smoked ham and again dutch's beans. Again the pulled pork was done the week before and the ham was done on site.


So keep in mind you can do much of this before the party. But if your smoker will only hold 2 10lb butts cooking for a couple of hundred is going to be a lot of work just by repetition. I can do 100lbs plus of pork butt on my smoker at a time so it's large group cooking friendly. 


I don't know if it's the pork butts I get here or the way I cook but I don't get the 50% shrinkage most talk about. I get somewhere around 30%. I usually wind up making more than is needed as pulled pork goes a long way. But one of my worst fears at a catering event is running out of meat. I figure 6 to 8 ounces of meat per sandwich.


I should mention I don't do this to make money. I do this because I love to do it. I do it for friends or friends of friends. I don't charge for my services directly but I accept tips and the party host pays all the grocery bills. So I'm pretty casual about it. I generally don't provide plates or cups napkins etc.


I have probably a dozen cooks now ranging from 100 to 300 people so I have a good idea of whats needed and when to start preparing. It's a good deal more work than most people realize. I'm to the point where I need commercial fridge and freezer. Been looking for something used for awhile now. Becoming a problem finding enough freezer and fridge space for cooks of this size.


In the end you made the right decision to stick with parties of 30 or so given the size of your smoker. It's easy to get in over your head the first couple times and you run the risk of frustrating yourself and never want to do it again.


So keep on smoking and maybe look into finding a larger smoker if you find you like the party cooking gig.

post #5 of 5

3montes I agree with you.  I tend to stick to parties of 100 - 125 max as the BTLE can comfortably take 5 maybe 6 butts at a time so even those size crowds are 2 days smoking.  I went with the BTLE just to prove I could do this stuff without spending a fortune and it has been a good starter unit -- however this weekend it's 200+ people and we are smoking every day and that's just not viable long term.  So I've got a build in the early stages -- thread "HAD to start a build...".


I get the same shrinkage you do - about 30% - 35%.  73lb case of butts just produced 50lbs finished product.  OK a couple of pounds of finishing sauce in there but still within range.


I have done turkeys but not played with ham yet, have to try that soon.



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