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Planning Your Catered Barbecue Event

Barbecues, pig roasts, luau, steak roasts and mixed grilled menus are great for all types of events such as; family reunions, golf outings, company picnics, graduations, and yes, even wedding receptions. There are many advantages to hiring a professional catering service for your next barbeque event. By hiring a pro, you will impress corporate clients at the big corporate picnic or golf outing. Your friends and family will be able to spend more time with you while the catering staff does all of the work. Best of all, you get to actually enjoy your party while receiving all the accolades.

Choosing the proper location is an important step in planning the perfect party.  Whatever type of Function you are planning, you have to be sure to choose a suitable venue to accommodate all of your guests. Starting with the smaller backyard house party, it is important to provide plenty of seating, an area to serve the food items, and bathrooms facilities for the guests. Setting up the buffet in the garage is always a great idea.  It shelters the food from all sorts of unfriendly elements like rain and heat from direct sunlight. Locating the buffet under a shady tree may seem like a good idea, just remember that birds like trees.   Weather always plays a factor in every outdoor barbeque. Proper planning will help your event be a success no matter what the weather conditions. Cover, Cover, Cover – Even though it is an outdoor party ample shelter is a must. It is obvious why you need shelter when it rains, but consider how important it is in hot temperatures too.  Direct sunlight in high temperatures must be taken into consideration also.  When setting the food outside, one or two 10 x 10 pop-up canopies are perfect for shelter. For larger parties, you can choose a public park pavilion location or even somewhere by a beach. Just be sure to check with the local municipality to see if you can or have to reserve such facilities in advance.  Also, if you will be providing alcoholic beverages as part of your menu, you’ll need to be sure that they are allowed to be served in the facility you choose. When planning a barbeque wedding menu, the wedding part comes first. Work with your caterer to make sure that the location you are choosing will work with the food items you plan on serving. For golf outings, always check with the course management to make sure that they let outside caterers on their facility, or if they only allow for their in-house caterer to be used.

Knowing how your menu items will be transported and how it will be set up is very important, also.  You should know ahead of time how the foods will be served.  Will your caterer bring their own buffet tables or will you or the venue be providing them?  Will they cover the buffet tables with themed linen or plastic cloths and provide buffet skirting? Will hot foods be served out of chafing dishes or foil pans?  You’ll needed to know if place settings such as plates, napkins and silverware will be provided by your caterer or are they something you will need to supply.  You will also have to decide on whether you will have a more formal event with china and linen, or more casual with plastic and paper products. Plastic disposable plates are almost always the norm for any baroque menu, but when planning a more formal grill menu, china may be more appropriate.   Also ask how the cold foods will be kept cold during transportation and on the buffet for the duration of serving time. Will cold salads and relishes be on ice? Your caterer can also help you to select menu items that will be served best in the elements that your buffet will be subject to at the location you selected.
Every Party has a budget.  Know and discuss your budget with your caterer. If you have a $5000.00 food service budget and are inviting 250 guests, you have a $20.00 per person budget; $5000.00 at 100 guests is $50.00 per person. You will obviously get a more elaborate menu with a larger per person budget. Work within your budget. Do not to have unrealistic expectations.  If your caterer knows your budget, they will be able to suggest different menu or set up options that may work better within a budget may be being stretched as far as it can go.

Will your caterer be grilling with charcoal or gas?  100% Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal; that’s about all that has to be said on the subject. While your propane grill is ok and convenient for home cooking, leave it home for the big event. Nothing imports the great smoky flavor like real wood charcoal. We feel that 100%Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal is the best.  Why not briquettes?   Briquettes are processed by pulverizing lump charcoal, caking it together with a sticking agent and shaping it to make it more uniform and convenient. It burns faster at a lower temperature and breaks down faster, smothering it’s self while burning causing too much smoke. You want smoky flavor, not a smoky burnt taste. Lump charcoal burns hotter and longer, so you use less. Less coal means less smoke = better flavor.

One of the main parts of planning your party is focusing on your menu selections.  Actual menu planning can take some time, so we will just go over some of the basics here. It’s always easier to build a menu around the main course. Let’s start there. Here are some important questions to ask about different meat entrees that may be served. What type of ribs will be used, Baby Back or St. Louis cut?  Does the caterer make their own sauce? What type of preparation is used; dry rub, slow roast, or basted? What type and size of steaks will be served? Will they be served cooked to order right off the grill? Don’t forget the pig.  After all it is the star of a pig roast or luau menu. Will it be cooked on a rotisserie where the guest can see it, or will it be prepared somewhere else and then brought to the party? If you go on assumptions that will be grilled at your party location, you may be very disappointed when it comes already prepared.   Don’t forget about the chicken. Will you be serving boneless and skinless or on the bone.  Will it be barbequed or marinated. There are many entrees and combinations of meats that can be used. We haven’t even touched on fish and seafood. Just be sure to communicate to your caterer what types of entrees you want and how you would like it to be prepared.  Side dishes are a bit simpler to select. Just keep in mind who you are feeding and the type of function you are organizing. A golf outing steak dinner will usually have a potato, vegetable, salad, and rolls included. Corn on the cob, baked beans, coleslaw, and pasta salad go great with ribs and chicken. A fresh cut fruit display is a must for any luau. Most caterers will have an extensive list of sides to choose from.  They will most likely also have set menus for such themed events.

The look of the catering staff is a part of the overall presentation of your event.  Remember to discuss the servers and cooks with your caterer. How will they be dressed, what is their proper attire? Will cooks be wearing chef coats? Will servers be wearing matching uniforms? Luau attire such as Hawaiian shirts are a nice touch for pig roasts and luau themed parties; but definitely not something you would want for a formal wedding.   Be sure to know what the staff will be wearing if you are planning a formal event, possibly tux shirts and bowties.

Remember to plan well and review your proposal and contract.  Whenever a change is made be sure that it is changed in your caterer’s proposal also, and that you both have copies of the most recently updated information.  Good communication between you and your caterer will make your event a huge success.


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