Rachel Green is a chef consultant to the hospitality sector and has a wealth of experience as an outside caterer, looking after up to 1,200 guests at a time. Constantly pushing the boundaries of how to cook and prepare delicious food, Rachel is equally at home rustling up a feast on the BBQ at events and festivals as she is in the kitchen of a fine dining restaurant.
What should operators think about when introducing BBQ cooking?
The first consideration when introducing a BBQ is to get to know your suppliers well! You need great quality ingredients, great sides and sauces. You need dishes that are simple and easy to cook in a small space – preparation is everything – you have to be organised and have a production line. If you have a lot of meat, pre-cook some of it, steaks could be pre-sealed to help with the speed of service, chicken can be cooked through and just finished off on the BBQ, however as always, the food is always best freshly cooked.
How much space does a business need for a BBQ?
The space you need depends on how many people you are feeding and the complexity of your menu. However, for vegan and vegetarian customers, there has to be separate BBQs to avoid cross contamination. It is often easier to have a vegan option to accommodate both dietary requirements.
What are the common problems you have seen operators come up against?
A common mistake is exposing food (especially meat) to too high heat this will give you tough dry meat. A good BBQ requires steady, low heat over a long period of time.
Caterers should also be conscious of avoiding fridge chill, taking raw ingredients out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before BBQing them. If the meat is too cold when it is put on the grill it can burn on the outside before being cooked in the middle and will reduce the BBQ temperature. If you are using charcoal, use good quality charcoal, the flavour it infuses depends on the tree it has come from.
How versatile is BBQ cooking?
There’s so much more to BBQs than simply cooking sausages and burgers. Think BBQ watermelon and feta salad, slowly cooked whole vegetables, burnt ends brisket, chargrilled salad leaves, buttermilk and charred lemon dressing, BBQ breakfast burritos, shakshuka with charred egg yolks, rotis, flatbreads, grilling fruits such as peaches, baking soft fruits and fondant chocolate puddings or pancakes. [EH1] BBQs are not just for the summer months, they are brilliant in the winter months as well.
How ‘big’ can you think with BBQ cooking?
An Argentinian Asado for 250 people is one of the wildest events I have ever done – roasting 8 whole lambs over an open fire pit. We wired the lambs onto metal crosses and sunk steel tubes into the ground to put the crosses in so we could turn the lambs more easily, every 30 minutes. We lit the fire at 5:00am started cooking the lambs at 7:00am and the lambs were cooked by 3:00pm. As the guests walked past the fire, they were sold on the food even before they tasted it. It just goes to show, there are rarely any limits with BBQs!
[EH1]I’m conscious that this is just a VERY long list of ideas. Could we use design and some imagery to break it down/bring it to life?