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Selling Pulled Pork at a fair.

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My BBQ takeout restaurant has been open for almost a year now and we are doing well.

This year we are going to do a couple fairs in the area to promote our business.

We are going to sell Pulled Pork sandwiches. The fair starts at 11am and is until 5pm. I am going to smoke all the pork butts at night and will plan it so that the butts will be done around 9-10am the day off the fair.

Our plan is to use 'coolers' with towels to keep the pulled pork hot and at a safe temp for as long as possible. When it's time to pull we take a butt out and after pulling it will put it in a couple au bain marie dishes to keep it warm.

I would love to hear you guys advice on my plan.
post #2 of 12

Yes the meat will stay warm but at what temp and for how long?

Can you stand there with a straight face and tell the health dept inspector that your product has been in the danger zone for 2 hours or less?

Because events like fairs are a favorite place for those guys to spend the weekend... armed with nothing more than a thermometer and a smile.



post #3 of 12

Flipflopgirl is right on the money. Don't fool around with

"Our plan is to use 'coolers' with towels to keep the pulled pork hot and at a safe temp for as long as possible."

And then what? How long is "as long as possible."?  

BBQ pulled pork reheats easily and well. Have the means to reheat it on site and ready for action. Cook, chill, reheat. 

Either the pork is hot and ready, or chilled and safe. No guessing or hoping for the best. You know now that this will be 

a problem. Develop your plan to eliminate the problem, not sit around hoping it doesn't happen. 

​Three hours left of the fair and your pork is room temp? You are then begging  the inspector to make you toss it out and write you up. 

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies.

I got in touch with a couple professional bbq caterers. You guys might be surprised but they confirmed this is the way BBQ caterers do it, except for the towels. Don't use towels smile.gif

They confirmed the butts will still be well over 165F after 6 hours. A good quality cooler and the mass of all the meat will make sure the meat stays hot as hell. This was my experience with a smoked prime rib that I kept in a cheap cooler with towels one year for christmas at home. Maintained temp for a couple hours with no problem. So I am sure having a high quality cooler and a lot more meat does help.
post #5 of 12

Glad to hear you checked. Now you have a more solid plan rather than just hoping for a good outcome. If you keep this up, think about investing in some Cambro products. They have many designed specifically for just what you're doing. 

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply again. Not sure why you would think I would just start and hope for the best.

The reason I have been asking people and different forums this question is to come up with a solid plan. I am getting there. Always feels great to be prepared and have people confirm the plan will work out.

Thanks again for your time.
post #7 of 12

Our SOP was hot trimmed briskets in beef stock standing on end in one of those yellow Igloo "water coolers".

Lid nice and tight held the 3-4 pieces for as long as it took to get to the gig, set up and slice.

We never packed the briskets and no one touched cooler # 2 until #1 was empty...#3...#4... you get the idea.

Fairs usually last from Friday till Sunday and we got regular deliveries from the pit depending on how fast the coolers depleted.


Pulled and chopped meat is a different animal because you have to fiddle around with it.

More chance for exposure to pathogens and such.


Glad you have a plan...fairs and antique shows can be a nice little offshoot of a solid catering enterprise.




Edited by flipflopgirl - 5/18/17 at 3:56am
post #8 of 12
I am pro BBQ caterer and do competition BBQ. I alaways hold meat whole wrapped in foil in either a Cambro or Yeti cooler. They can stay hot for several hours. Pull meat to order and put in a chafing dish with stereno one butt at a time, as needed. Put a water bath under your meat and you should be golden. If you need to add moisture, use apple juice.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to report back.

Went really well. Used the coolers. Meat reached 145F 11 hours after I pulled them from the smoker. Not bad!
post #10 of 12
I just want to ask: We are talking shoulder, right? At what temperature are you all smoking? I'm surprised that no one mentioned what internal temperature they were cooked to.
I'll just assume y'all must know.
But for those that don't know, I wouldn't suggest putting cooked meats in a cooler. Unless you have 10-15 butts, but if you are at home and pull a couple of butts that have not effectively cooked past the stall, they will cool down quicker.
I'm also a little confused by some posts. It's almost as the thinking is, as long as the meat remains at a safe temperature, you can store them for any length of time as long as the temp is above safe zone temp.
I'm not so sure about thinking. Cooking/smoking/heat source is one thing. Removing the heat source and storing is another. Now that's just in my own personal book.
Not a pro, not quite sure what that means, I have attended 3 large BBQ competitions in 2 states. They were all the same, as much as I was impressed with some meats, I experienced as much not so impressive meat. basura
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi panini,

Shoulders smoked for pulled pork are typically smoked to an internal temp of 198-203F.

In my experience the quality of the meat stays really stable, even after that many hours of remaining in the safe zone.

When you smoke a couple butts at home (to 198-203F IT) you can easily keep them well above 145F for many hours in a cooler filled up with towels.

If you don't like that method then don't use it. But imo it works really well, it's safe and hardly any quality loss if any at all.
post #12 of 12

Glad to hear it went well.  Still above 140 after 11 hours is great!!!  Nice to get that "first one" jitters out of the way. :
)   BTW...when we do it we do it just like hamiltonbarnes suggested, and that works well.

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