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Off site sterno "cooking"

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I have been a restaurant chef for 11 years. I worked for a catering company that was finishing cooking with sternos in enclosed rolling racks. I never actually did it myself and now have a side catering business with some parties that I would need to do this. Anyone who can give me the rundown with this? How well it works? What products this is good/bad for? Any advice and details would be greatly appreciated!
post #2 of 14

It would scare the Hell out of me to have to control something I had no control of. I always had my food cooked or I cooked what couldn't be precooked on site. What foods are you trying to finish ?..........Welcome to Cheftalk........Chef Bill

post #3 of 14

I have seen it done to create a holding box but not to cook. I would imagine that is what they were doing as well. Basically giant chafers.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #4 of 14
what type of food, what volume at once,
how many guests being cooked for?
post #5 of 14

Bad idea

post #6 of 14

Not necessarily a bad idea, depends what and how much. 

Ive cooked with sterno heat, but it was in hotel pans.

And  2 cans will certainly get things hot enuf to boil or braise. 

If the top pan is "full-o-holes", you're basically steaming.

 

Trying to roast something might be another matter, I might try 

it with low temp quaility beef cuts like tri-tip or Tenderloin-- pork, 

probably not, and raw chicken....no way. 

Impossible to render an accurate opinion here though, without more info.

post #7 of 14
Sterno is poison. The fumes it produces in an enclosed container(like a heating trolley or coveted rack) is nasty. The off-flavours it givesvto foods is nasty.

Use it for keeping the chafers warm and use real cooking equipment to cook.

Ot.o.h., I've used cheapo propane bbq's to do everything fron sauteing to roasting to baking. The cheapo butune hot plates work well in emergencies too.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #8 of 14
well i agree, the fumes from sternos and the food itself,never
the twain shall meet. its intended as an external heat source.
and i prefer the tiki-torch, wick type, to the napalm type.

I swear by those butane portable burners, i never do
a gig without at least 2 in a crate at arms reach.
And theyre so clean burning you can use them indoors.
post #9 of 14

Lists and timetables do not a caterer make......

 

mimi

post #10 of 14

I'll agree with your last statement--everything you described there bears the mark of an unprepared amateur. So youre basically

in no way a professional caterer, chef, nor culinarian, deciding to join and post (with no descernible question posed), in a

forum stated to be reserved for professional caterers. Confused, was your post intended to offer, or to elicit professional advice?  

 

My response is that you "learn catering" by working for a legally established caterer--that''s what I did. 

Continuing to pursue this with no experience, no license or insurance is leaving both you and your "clients"'open to much 

worse tragedy than being caught without heat. Further, by leaving to hunt up equipment, and allowing the guests to eat  

in your absence,  you also delivered a below grade product, outside legal health parameters (below 41, above 135 deg F)

risking serious repercussions for both you and them. Cant stress enough the risks you took here. :suprise: 

post #11 of 14

I know many a good cooks that cater and wonder why. The thing they miss is logistics and attention to detail. This is want made me good at catering. I paid attention to details, I wanted to know if it could go wrong how can I prevent it. I did my homework on every catering. I never had a bad catering or a client that didn't call me back for more catering. I remember many years ago a catering Manager I worked with in Hawaii ask if he could call me on the big catering to make sure he covered all the bases. I never like to learn by my mistakes. As caterers we have one shot to do it right...........

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBillyB View Post
 

I know many a good cooks that cater and wonder why. The thing they miss is logistics and attention to detail. This is want made me good at catering. I paid attention to details, I wanted to know if it could go wrong how can I prevent it. I did my homework on every catering. I never had a bad catering or a client that didn't call me back for more catering. I remember many years ago a catering Manager I worked with in Hawaii ask if he could call me on the big catering to make sure he covered all the bases. I never like to learn by my mistakes. As caterers we have one shot to do it right...........

 

Might be fun to exchange horror stories with you sometime, Chef Billy. Not to mention, educational. 

 

So same here Chef, I would think about an upcoming gig when planning it and 

just try to think of all the ways it could go wrong. They say, "you never know when you might 

get a flat tire or be stopped by a train, etc"  Well on the way to one gig, I suddenly DID hear a '

thump-thump! only to discover I did indeed have a flat tire. Because I had left with an hour and a

half to spare, still made the gig. As caterers we cant control the monkey wrenches, just prepare

for them. But ya cant do that unless that problem occurs to you in the first place. Via experience.

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meezenplaz View Post
 

 

Might be fun to exchange horror stories with you sometime, Chef Billy. Not to mention, educational. 

 

So same here Chef, I would think about an upcoming gig when planning it and 

just try to think of all the ways it could go wrong. They say, "you never know when you might 

get a flat tire or be stopped by a train, etc"  Well on the way to one gig, I suddenly DID hear a '

thump-thump! only to discover I did indeed have a flat tire. Because I had left with an hour and a

half to spare, still made the gig. As caterers we cant control the monkey wrenches, just prepare

for them. But ya cant do that unless that problem occurs to you in the first place. Via experience.

I was working for the largest caterer in Hawaii. We had a few catering going on and I had to work the Sunset cruise dinner because they had some problems with a few employees. I had to do that to put out some fires so we didn’t lose the account. I was pissed because I was missing the Governors Ball at the Governors mansion that we we also catering. This was a nice catering and it bugged me that I had to do the Sunset cruise because someone else screwed up. I was just leaving to do my catering and the phone rang, the Chef asked me to check the oven. I went and checked and saw 8 whole Lobsters on sheet pans. I came back on the phone and told him, he just sighed and said oh shit. The 8 Lobsters were for the Governor's head table. I hung up the phone and thanked God that I wasn’t on that catering. I walked out and did my catering feeling good…….

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thistle5 View Post

Bowing out of here right now- I was just adding to a thread on sterno. I am not a professional caterer, I was simply contributing some food to my son's party, the food was heated to temp, before being brought out in the freezing weather & was consumed within 2 hours.

 

Don't run off with hurt feelings.

If you will read and digest all you can in the "pro" forums you will notice we are pretty direct with our advice.

In no way is this meant to hurt anyone's feeling or make them feel unwelcome on the forums.

On the contrary...we (the collective we who comprise membership here on CT) only want everyone who is serious about feeding the masses to turn out great food in a safe manner.

 

So if you are really serious about catering do as suggested and work for the top notch company in your area for a year or so.

The best education you will ever be paid to acquire.

 

OBTW welcome to Chef Talk....hope to see you around.

 

mimi


Edited by flipflopgirl - 2/15/16 at 7:24am
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