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Outdoor bbq wedding! New to mass cooking!!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Alright, so I am VERY new to this mass cooking thing, SO I NEED SOME HELP!

I am hosting an outdoor wedding at the end of the summer for approx 150 people. Does anyone have any ideas of:

Where I can get bulk food (including the meat, veggies, etc)

How/when I need to cook it

What to keep it in

Stuff like that. ANYYYYY tips will help me!! Thank you so much!
post #2 of 19
I think you bit off more then you can chew. If I were in your shoes, I would hire a chef to do all this for you . You can hire on a daily or hourly basis. Wedding planning and the back of the house are two seperate matters. The questions you ask, and for this amount of guest requires experience, as well as timeing. Dont practice on this party for your own reputation sake.:lol:
post #3 of 19

150 guests.....

Tell us about the reception. Is it casual? Is anyone helping you? Is this your wedding or did someone hire or ask you to cater it?
Where is it being held?

From you post it reads like you are very much over your, not knowing where to purchase bulk food, nor how to store it, nor how long it takes to cook it.

I'm with Ed.
(1) have a BBQ company drop off if you have staff

(2) hire a consultant chef in your area to work through logistics and possibly cook

(3) hire a caterer to do it. * this seems like the best move.

If you don't have experience cooking for 150....actually it reads like you don't have experience cooking for groups period, I'd not put someones wedding to the litmus test.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #4 of 19
This sounds like a food borne illness outbreak just waiting to happen.

Hire a professional to manage the food service aspect of your event!
Do not risk your reputation and the health of every guest.
post #5 of 19
food handler's certificate?
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Alright, answering questions now:

1.) It is my sister's wedding, and it is VERY casual and small. If you think "family reunion" then you've got it.

2.) There will be plenty of help... the whole family is pitching in for help/food.

3.) I am an event planner, not a chef, so I don't know much about the cooking side... but basically all we plan on doing is pulled pork sandwiches, veggies, potato salad, etc.

4.) This is such a LOW BUDGET wedding, we can't afford to hire a chef (hence asking you all).

5.) 150 guests is our worst case scenario. We are actually trying to get it down to under 100.

6.) This is at a park, and we are able to handle our own food, so we don't need a license. Trust me, I would rather have her hire a professional, but they just can't afford it...

I already know about renting equipment (food warmers, coolers, etc). I guess I just need tips on timing, etc.

Thanks for your input!
post #7 of 19
Got it, thanks for clarifying.

Either make your own pulled pork. 8oz pp or buy pre-made from a BBQ place or Sams or Restaurant Depot if you have a license. Can be made a few days in advance and reheated @ site if you have a way to do that....if not have someone heat it as close to service as possible then transport in coolers or cambros.....or rent/bring a huge grill and heat in pans on the grill.

1.25- sandwiches pp should be enough

Veg platters. prep the day before/bag and make sure to keep refrigerated....
Either plate just prior to the event or if you have refrigeration space platter the veg the morning of the event and triple wrap in saran.

Potato Salad....can be made a couple of days in advance, refresh morning careful with mayonaisse base salad. Consider a vinegar based slaw instead. Or chips....easier and no chance of illness.

I'm unclear about your timing question. When we do an event, we typically plan to be on site 2 hours prior to start time.....1 person setup beverages, ice down beers/wine, get paper products and glasses where they are needed.

Buffet Tables go up fairly quickly....

Surely you are not cooking pulled pork the morning of the reception......unless that is all you are planning on doing....I'm assuming there is a wedding happening prior to the reception.:p
When we do pulled pork, I've butchered a pig and have the whole shoulder and sometimes the ham of a 300# pig roasting for 10ish hours....then it cools and we pull the meat.

A few of the other caterers do extensive BBQing...BBally, BBQ's for thousands...they may be able to give you their input.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
You have been SOOOO helpful! Thank you!

You answered the timing question just fine, too. Basically when to prepare/set up was what I was going for!

Again, thanks!:smiles:
post #9 of 19
Don't forget to bring the:
post #10 of 19
Jesica, you've got to make up your mind; either this is to be handled as a family reunion or a wedding reception. If it's a wedding reception, treat it as such. Don't make it incidental to the gathering. It's the bride's day. Make it special. "Pulled pork sandwiches?" If, indeed, you are a professional party planner, certainly you can come up with a menu for your sister's wedding that's a tad more elegant than Porky on a Bun. That's far from being a plus; it's a recipe for disaster. It's almost impossible to control sanitation issues with so many hands in the food. Yes, yes...Aunt Betty's making the cole slaw...Uncle Jack, his fabulous German potato salad...and on and on. What are you going to do when someone shows up with a potluck dish that needs immediate refrigeration and you didn't know they were bringing it and have no room for it? Set a menu...give all the preparers a timeline and quantity and get from each, a list of ingredients, before they make their respective contributions. Tell everyone, quite explicitly not to bring any unassigned food to the reception. If you plan on become a very successful event planner, you'd better learn plenty about the cooking side! You're going to have to learn to distinguish low budget from cheap. By all means, stay within a modest budget, but don't turn this into a byob picnic that just happens to follow your sister's nuptials. It sounds like you're trying to budget food costs at less than $3.00 a guest. Be realistic. I don't understand this. You want less people to share in the joy of this wedding party. Why?Any chance that you and/or some friends and relatives can throw a few dollars into a kitty to elegant-up this shindig?You are welcome.
post #11 of 19
RSTEVE, everyone has their own perception about how they'd like to celebrate.....I'm sure jesica is well aware of food borne poisoning, if not it's amazing that she's lived to be an adult.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

Plus, just because they want a bbq wedding, doesn't make them any less "elegant." Weddings are often perceived as something you are obligated to spend tens of thousands of dollars on (if not more). And people that want small ceremonies are looked down upon. Not everyone is traditional.

I actually applaud my sister for not giving in to tradition.
post #13 of 19

Outdoor bbq wedding


I applaud YOU; as you are always there to give your help and advice to anyone who asks in a very constructive and polite manner.
post #14 of 19
Sysco food service sells pulled pork meat in 5 pound tubs, you make sauce. They also sell 30 lb tubs of potatoo salad,mac salad and cole slaw. Possibly if a friend of yours owns a food place they can order for you. They also have all paper goods etc. It is the best way.:D
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you, Ed!

Luckily, I do know of someone that might be able to help in that dept.

Thanks for all of your help, everyone. It's definitely making things a lot easier to put together! :lol:
post #16 of 19
I've often wondered how I made it to adulthood, myself, let-alone, senior citizenry, i.e. old age.

My apology for being short/harsh with Jesica. I have worked with many event planners, as I am quite certain most caterers have. The best will taste your Caesar dressing and critique the quality of olive oil. Every event planner, with whom I worked, was very food familiar. I can't imagine being a party/event/wedding planner without having a strong food background. To me, her post simply read, "I volunteered to plan my sister's wedding. What do I do?"

In no way am I being critical of small weddings. As a caterer, when the number is 100 or 150, it's still basically the same process. Boost the number from 100 to 350 and we're looking at a change in logistics. (I know I'm preaching to the choir :lol:) My comment was simply..."As long as you're having 100; why not 150, if there's that number of family and friends? Why risk the hurt feelings of being excluded?"

And, yes...I think wedding receptions are special. They can be simple and inexpensive, yet, elegant and truly memorable.

I hope Jesica's sister has a wonderful wedding, a tremendous reception, and decades of wedded happiness.
post #17 of 19
To me, her post simply read, "I volunteered to plan my sister's wedding. What do I do?"

Steve I read it the same way.!
post #18 of 19
Cooking for 150, or even 100 is a big job. You're going to need a LOT of help.

Sam's Club. You can buy by the case and you don't have to own a restaurant.

Change the menu, get a really big grill and cook onsite. Or figure out a way to smoke a ton of meat and keep it hot., using insulated food carriers. You can keep food hot all day using them.

If not onsite, then you'll need Cambro food carriers, hotel pans, a truck, etc.

Cambro food carriers for hot food, big ice chests for cold food.

This is my short and quick answers. I started a catering business over a year ago and I spent a lot of time and money investing in the proper equipment to do the job right. A 150 person outdoor picnic is no picnic and takes a decent amount of prep time and work. Keep that in mind.

post #19 of 19
I'm certainly not a professional chef and am not supposed to post here but I have alot of experience cooking and serving pulled pork and other smoked foods for groups of 4 to 200 (this is my forte and I just do it for fun). Here is my 2 cents for you to take as you see fit.

This is my normal plan of attack.

The typical pulled pork sandwich serving is 1/4lb (pre-cooked) per person if you are serving sides and can go up to 1/2lb if you are lite on sides (read chips only). I always buy from Sams as I don't have a license and it's the cheapest here in Atl and the quality is pretty good. Buy in cases to get a discount per lb and get them with the bone in. I make my own rub and prep the bbq at least 8 hours before I decide to cook it. Buy some nice heavy coolers to keep the prepped meat in with sealed bags of ice unless you have a fridge big enough to hold 5 to 6 boston butts. Unless you have a smoker that can cook this much meat in cook it in the oven. I'm a "low and slow" guy so I would cook that much meat for about 10 to 14 hours but ultimately to at least 195 degrees and no more than 205. If you cook it to 195 to 205 and you cooked it slow (250 oven temp) it will fall apart with very little effort. A good rule of thumb is if the bone wiggles and starts to slide out easily it's done! If you have to cook it faster don't cook it to 205 or it will be dry.

When the pork is to temp keep it whole and wrap it in foil and either drop the oven temp to it's lowest setting until you are ready to serve or store in a thick cooler with blankets or anything to keep the heat in. Make sure the cooler is just big enough to hold all of the meat or the heat will disapate too quickly. I have kept whole butts for hours this way and they stay hot enough that you will need gloves to pull them. Speaking of which go buy you some nice thick chemical gloves (the kind you use when handling strong kitchen chemicals). You will need them when handling 200 degree meat with your hands. Machines and utensils have their place but that place is not pulling pork. =) Plus by hand you can remove the fat easier. Cooked properly you can pull 5 or 6 butts in 10 to 20 minutes.

For serving chafing dishes work well but make sure you have some liquid in the pulled pork to keep it from overcooking and drying out. A good vinegar sauce is perfect for this and the flavor it adds throws it over the top.

I can give you a good recipe for the rub and vinegar sauce if you want...just email me at

Sorry again for postinng on the pro forum. =)
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