A little advice from you catering folks

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Nov 2, 2006
Hey folks,
I've entered into a possible deal with a woman in my office building that runs a small breakfast and lunch counter that caters to about 70-150 lunch patrons on good days. It used to be a husband/wife combo, but her husband died suddenly last year. He used to smoke briskets and butts on occasion and they would serve sandwiches and such from the meats he smoked in additon to other sandwich stuff and wraps and soups and stuff.

So anyway, this coming week, we are supposed to sit down and discuss what she'd like me to cook. I've told her that for the first run, all I need from her is meat, propane, ingredients (rubs and marinades), and wood. There will be no charge for time, labor, etc for the first run. I want to make sure she likes what is cooked. I will probably do both a brisket and a pork butt or shoulder. I pretty much have the recipes and cooks planned out for this first run, but my questions are:

How much meat should I cook? This will probably be mostly her decision as she knows her business and knows her what her food needs are, but I'd like to be prepared if she does ask.

How do I keep her meat safe? Once cooked (probably on a Sunday afternoon/evening) what are the correct way's to store/transport/reheat if needed?
What are the danger temps? I figured I'd just wrap in towels and place in a cooler, but I don't know how long I can do this (14-16 hours seems a bit much).

As it stands now, I just have to deliver the meat to her in the morning when I come to the office. She will do all post cook work, pulling/slicing serving etc.

Going forward after the first cook, what is a reasonable amount to charge for labor? I jokingly told her free sandwiches for me, but I think she might come out on the losing end there. This is a small venture and I'm sure there is not a lot of margin for her, so I don't want to over charge her, but I know she wants to pay me something. Also, I'm not in this to make money, but to learn the beginnings of a possible catering business. I was thinking maybe just charging enough to get a et-73 or two over the course of a few cooks. I don't foresee any real maintenance costs (doing this on a GOSM).

I know this isn't a lot to work with, and I don't have any real experience with this sort of business other than the cooking part. I do know this can be a little labor/time intensive, but it is something that I enjoy. If there is anything that I'm not thinking of, please feel free to bring it up.

This will probably start in the next couple of weeks, so there is plenty of time to set me straight
SFC-If she is already running an established breakfast/lunch counter, she should have the means of reheating the butts and briskets. Once they have been smoked they should be cooled down and refrigerated. As a for the venture on your part, you might want to look into what the County regulations are, just to cover your rear. Most ventures of this type require the product to come from a licenced commercial kitchen.
Yep, Dutch is right. In order for this all to be approved with the health department, you will need to either:

1. Have an approved second kitchen at your home where you cook, or
2. Cook at her place. Her health inspection should cover anyone else that cooks at her establishment. This is also how guys sell smoked food outside of grocery stores. Some kind of "umbrella" rule.
3. You could get a mobile cooker approved from the health department, and cook anywhere. There's certain requirements here, too.

Your best bet is to go with #2. I'd think that would be the easiest.

Check the Health Code for your state, I'm sure they vary just a little. The above requirements are valid for missouri. You should be able to find the health code online. I just do a google for "Missouri Health Code" and I can quickly find the missouri department of health food code.
Ahh, thanks folks. I hadn't really considered the legal ramifications of entering into this.

Moving my cooker to her place isn't really an option as she is on the top floor of the building, and only using hot plates and such for any cooking she does. However, all of her food prep is done at her home, so I'm assuming her kitchen has been certified for this venture. I'll confirm this with her, and if that is the case, I'll just move my smoker over to her house. She's only a couple blocks away from my home.

Once again, I'm not looking to turn this into a catering or commercial cooking business, just thought I'd provide her with some smoked meat, and in the process, get to do some smoking as well :)

This might be more trouble than it's worth.
You know, that might be a possibility too. I'll be chatting with her tomorrow. I'll see what's available.
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