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Transporting food warm, recommendations....

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
My custom events company recently added our own catering services. Overall, this has been successful, but usually kitchen access is not a problem! :-/

We're doing an event for a budget bride whose venue has no kitchen, and the cooking is all going to have to be done off site and then transported. This is not the type of work I'm used to doing, at this stage we've mostly done small on site things, usually at churches or small halls where I have a prep kitchen to maintain all of my temperatures etc.....

It's for about 50 people, and they're desperate for seafood, adding to my dilemma.

So I have a cople of questions....

How munch extra staff do you usually find you need when you're transporting food from an off site kitchen?

What are some of your preferred ways of keeping the food fresh, warm, etc... in transit

Looking for people who have dealt with this before to offer insight. I don't have a catering truck, just basic equipment for cooking and serving on site. Should I just tell her, hey the level of ervices we offer aren't up to what you need?
post #2 of 4

A cambro is my choice for transporting hot cooked food. This is just a heavily insulated plastic box that you can slide in hotel pans into--a giant thermos, if you will.  It works great for any sauced item, whole roasts, moist foods (the cat's  meow for mashed pots, for instance).


It is terrible for any food that you want dry--breaded foods, fried foods, roasted potatoes, etc.


Depending on the meat item, and how it is served, I would include the option of cooking on site.  A regular bbq is a very viable option, and one that I have used for many years when catering.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #3 of 4

I would say it depends upon what level of services you ARE up to. A kitchen on the event site is usually a luxury--sounds like youve been LUCKY so far. :-) But by and large it behooves most of us  in event catering to stay "self-contained" as we never know where we're going to be asked to serve--I've done events in everything from first class on-site kitchens, to a fold up table on a hillside horse stable, (at night in the pouring rain) to a football field on nothing but grass. In fact, I did a wedding once where I had to store all my equipment, and work from a folding table in... a hallway. Welcome to REAL catering. biggrin.gif


So first I would assume you are able to prep, cook and sanitize SOMEwhere right? Once your food's made, the main standard for hot or cold transport are thermal boxes, the plastic insulated boxes (like the Cambro brand) designed to hold hotel pans. You can rent them, and they work really well.

The thing about transportting though is in most states you need to be a licensed, "health-permitted" caterer with a permitted kitchen or "commisary" you can legally cook sanitize and work out of.

If you're already set on that score, it's just a matter of pulling together the rest.

I catered for 3 years with either a small van or pick-up truck, and most of the time I dragged at least one BBQ around with me as well. I prepped, cooked and sanitized utinsels from a licensed kitchen, then used Cambros and Icechests for food transport.

And Ive served up to 600 people that way. :-)


ETA: I forgot to answer your extra staffing question:

Depends on whether its a buffet or a sitdown service.

Either way, to experienced caterers 50 people is fairly small,

and if it's a chaffer serve buffet line, 50 is a cakewalk--I can serve that

group in 15 minutes.

So if a chaffer-buffet type gig, one helper should be enough.

If a sit down plated served affair, (esp on china you're providing,)

another one or two staffers, depending on what all you have to do,

site layout etc.

post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 
I'm set on permits, licenses, and a kitchen...

Thanks for the responses, very helpful. And I was able to find several places to rent the Cambro. If I like it, I'll go ahead and purchase a couple to be better equipped for this type of situation as my business grows.
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