Knowing how to start a BBQ catering business follows the same steps as any other restaurant. You’ll need to secure your business licenses, have a commercial kitchen, and market your products to your local community. Your food must be able to pass health inspections and be able to transport your food safely if you’re not cooking it as you cater it.
A BBQ catering business centers around the products that are provided above anything else. If you want to make amazing BBQ, then here’s what you need to do. The rest of the catering business will fall into place around these tips.
1. Use cast iron and make sure you season it.
Cast iron is the best surface for cooking when making BBQ, but it needs to be seasoned properly. That means making sure there is cooking oil on the surfaces. This will prevent the meat from sticking to it and prolong the life of the equipment at the same time. You’ll want cast iron smokers, grills, and at least one outdoor grill. Tongs, forks, scrapers, and brushes are also going to be useful.
2. Your meat matters.
If you’re cooking with subpar cuts of meat, then you’re going to create a subpar catering experience for your customers. Look for lean meats when cooking proteins like pork and chicken, while marbled meats are better when creating a beef BBQ. Consider using ribeyes since they tend to stay moist while absorbing a lot of the smoky flavors, especially if you are short on time.
3. Make sure that you allow for plenty of smoking time.
For great BBQ, it takes at least 5 hours of smoking time to impart the best flavors. Some recipes require over 24 hours of smoking time to make the meat become tender. You’ll need to make sure that you’ve allowed for enough time to get the products properly cooked so that the flavors are crazy good. Sometimes you can shortcut the process with some aluminum foil and a gas grill, but slow smoking is always the best option.
4. Create a signature flavor from your smoke.
BBQ is all about tradition, but with a personal twist. People who love BBQ are used to the smoky flavors of mesquite, hickory, cedar, and other forms of wood. Instead of sticking with tradition here, try out combination flavors of smoke to see what kind of BBQ you can create. For example: try 2 parts hickory, 1 part apple, and 1 part oak to create your unique flavor. Just remember that pressure treated wood and soft woods have toxic chemicals that will be put into your food.
5. Now you’re ready to create your own sauce.
Once you’ve created your unique smoky flavor, you’re ready to create your own BBQ sauce. It’s the sauce that makes BBQ stand out from other catering efforts. The sauce should tenderize the meat, not be out-of-this-world spicy, but still completely unique. Many catering companies can create a revenue stream by selling bottles of their signature sauce in addition to the events where they provide food.
6. Know how to cook your proteins.
The most common cooking error that people make when smoking BBQ is that they stab their meat to cook it. The stabbing process makes the proteins cook too quickly and that dries out the meat. Use tongs to flip the meat instead to have better results. Keep in mind that meat that falls off the bone but itself is actually overcooked. You want the proteins to be soft, but still have some resistance to it.
7. Don’t focus on just the meat.
You can BBQ just about anything. Pineapples are a popular option, but so are peppers, or even tofu. Know your market and you’ll be able to know what additional food products you’ll want to offer when you cater an event.
8. Give your BBQ an air of mystery.
People are attracted to proprietary recipes that are proven to be good. Give some hints to those who ask about how you make your BBQ, but don’t give away the recipe. Don’t even be swayed by people who offer to buy it from you [and eventually people will when it's so good]. The mystery of the ingredients will keep people coming back so they can have some more.
Knowing how to start a BBQ catering business means perfecting the art of your food above anything else. These tips will help you do just that so you can secure the paperwork, insurance, and other needed administrative tasks that are also required.