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Few questions

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hello guys and gals. I have been smoking meat for a good 6 years. I have catered for groups 30 plus.  I decided to open a restaurant, and i am struggling. I  have realized with catering, I would cook everything and put it all out in chaffing dishes, and that was it. Now with trying to keep meat moist and warm for all day in a restaurant i am having issues. Right now i am only open on weekends, but will open full time soon. I am averaging 3 butts a day and one brisket. What is the best way to keep it fresh and moist.I have started keeping the brisket wrapped in paper and unwrap when i need to make a sandwich. I have thought about pulling the pork and putting it in a hotel pan, and then putting it in the fridge, and only take out a little at a time and putting non the steam table. It seems my steam table keeps cooking the food and dries it out. this includes meat, and sides.l I have it set on 160. I appreciate any help you can offer. thanks.

post #2 of 9

You can vacuum  seal sliced and pulled meats and reheat in the vac packs in simmering water as needed.

 Check w/ your local health dept .i think hot foods only need to be 140 degrees. save all drippings when you smoke and make au jus . you can add it as you reheat as needed.

 Low sodium beef broth added to brisket will keep it moist. never seen pork broth so i would use vegetable broth in the pork

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

How long does it take to warm up in simmering water? Just a general idea. this would work with ribs, pulled pork and brisket right?

post #4 of 9
To go from refer cold to warm it doesn't take too long using that method. A Sous vides machine and the process may be something to look into as you can hold food at temp for hours without drying it out.

As for ribs, I wouldn't use the vac bag method. They come out mushy and you loose the bark, which for me is important. I very rarely order ribs anymore at restaurants as they all seem to turn out that way.
post #5 of 9

Putting your meat in a steam table will KILL it as you discovered. You need a Holding Cabinet like an Alto-Shaam or other type of equipment to maintain a steady temp and humidity.. https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&rlz=1C1TSNJ_enUS463US463&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=alto%20shaam%20holding%20cabinet%20price

Look for used restaurant equipment places for good deals on refurbished units and going out of biz auctions, that are all too common as well...I hope this ain't gonna be you.


They keep the meat at a set point temp, 140-150°F, by Law, and maintain a level of moisture to keep meat from drying. Since meat Collagen does not break down until about 160°F, holding meat at 140-150 keeps it from turning to mush. Only pull pork as needed. Whole Butts hold better than pulled meat. Make small batches of cold salad sides, even Coleslaw is best mixed to order. Beans can be refered and reheated to order in a pan since folks expect really soft beans and make a cheese sauce and cook and refer your pasta for Mac 'n Cheese seperately. They also can be reheated to order with out noticeable quality loss compared to big old pans sitting in a steam table for 12 hours. Cut Brisket to order for best quality. Sell or store the steam table until your volume increases to the point that your staff can't keep up. Even then just use it for sides and possibly pulled pork but hand cut brisket to order, always. 


There are a few restaurants that keep there product refrigerated and reheat in Jus or BBQ/Finishing Sauce but that still taste like reheated leftovers to anyone that eats regularly in the Q joints that hold hot and cut to order or Pro's in the Restaurant biz. With the web sites like Yelp and such, only the best and freshest serving joints stay in business not the steam table guys or re-heaters...Ain't the Restaurant Biz Fun!...JJ:439: 

post #6 of 9
If the skies the limit get an Alto-Shaam combitherm oven! You can sous vide in that bad boy, that's how accurate the temps are! A full size one will set you back about $35k. A small one will set you back about $10k.
post #7 of 9
I'm glad you started this thread tomrip. It provides advice to folks thinking about going into catering or the restaurant biz, and also helps answer the age old question of why there is so much crappy bbq out there in restaurants.
post #8 of 9
On the left is the alto-shaam warmer, I think that is the one refered to by ChefJimmyJ; in the middle is a cookshack cabinet smoker; and on the right is an alto-shaam combitherm (that's the $35k one). Just some of the toys I get to play with at work...

post #9 of 9
Originally Posted by Mdboatbum View Post

I'm glad you started this thread tomrip. It provides advice to folks thinking about going into catering or the restaurant biz, and also helps answer the age old question of why there is so much crappy bbq out there in restaurants.
and why the good ones are a bit more pricey to visit....
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