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Mobile BBQ Setup for Catering

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    Mobile BBQ Setup for Catering

    Hey y'all.

    My name is Tyler and I'm new to this forum. I own a catering business based in Atlanta and we are looking to add a BBQ/Smoker/Outdoor Cooking setup to our food truck. We do southern food with a fun twist.

    I have been browsing around a bit and wanted some of your expert opinions on which setup you would choose if you were me.

    Setup Needs:
    -Mobile (preferably on a trailer as many of these are too heavy to carry and transport on our food truck)
    -Dynamic (ability to cook different meats in different ways for various catering setups)
    -Wow Factor (cool factor for clients)
    -Durable (commercial grade)

    The options that I have found that interest me the most have been the Meadow Creek PR 60/72, Lang offset trailers and Custom Pits (http://www.custompits.com/product-category/smokers/) that have a few models that seem similar to Langs but much less expensive.

    It seems to me like the offset fireboxes require more supervision and cannot really function as a grill for steaks/burgers/dogs as well. That's what drew me to the Pig Roasters because of the ability to smoke indirectly (via wood chips in charcoal) and roast whole hogs or just have a very large grill setup for more traditional options.

    Any thoughts on which way I should go? Or are there any setups out there that meet my criteria that might be better than those that I listed above?

    Thanks in advance for your time and I look forward to chatting with y'all on here.

    Hey FBC! Welcome to the Pit!

    Sorry I'm not the guy to help you out with your questions As Forest said " I'm not a very smart man"
    Last edited by Jon Solberg; July 22, 2014, 04:21 PM.


      Many of the professional grade EOS manufacturers sell cook chamber charcoal grates so that the smoker can be used as a very large charcoal grill when not used for indirect smoking. Too, many sell food grates for the firebox side, so the firebox can be used as a smaller grill. There are so many out there to choose from as far as trailer mounted rigs. The ones that have caught my eye are the fancy schmancy Jambos and Yoders... especially this Yoder, what a beast! Lang like the others will also customize depending on how fancy you wanted to go.
      Last edited by Huskee; July 22, 2014, 07:56 PM.


        Originally posted by Aaron 'Huskee' Lyons View Post
        especially this Yoder, what a beast!


        • David Parrish
          David Parrish commented
          Editing a comment
          I didn't see the price. What are we calling pocket change here?

          Maybe we should go 33/33/33 with Jerod and start our own motley BBQ Comp band.

        • Huskee
          Huskee commented
          Editing a comment
          Well there's an offset and a pellet, we just need to mount a PBC on it and we can proceed with these plans. I don't know the price, but I'm guessing one kidney won't cover it.

        • David Parrish
          David Parrish commented
          Editing a comment
          I wish I had a good excuse to own an EOS. I'm seriously itching to buy some more iron.

        So what is the biggest difference between the offset fireboxes and those that just have charcoal directly underneath with a drip pan to make it indirect heat?

        I guess I am trying to figure out why the MeadowCreek PigRoasters are half the cost of these Langs, Yoders and even Meadow Creek offset smokers. And they have more cooking surface space and room for a whole hog.

        Does their Pig Roaster not smoke as well as those with the offset boxes? Or are they just made with inferior materials?


          Originally posted by FreckledandBlueCatering View Post
          So what is the biggest difference between the offset fireboxes and those that just have charcoal directly underneath with a drip pan to make it indirect heat?

          I guess I am trying to figure out why the MeadowCreek PigRoasters are half the cost of these Langs, Yoders and even Meadow Creek offset smokers. And they have more cooking surface space and room for a whole hog.

          Does their Pig Roaster not smoke as well as those with the offset boxes? Or are they just made with inferior materials?
          The differences between offsets and 'water' or vertical/cabinet charcoal smokers is the amount of cookign space first and foremost. Offsets are extremely user-friendly as far as loading/unloading both meat and heat. They typically have a grill-like layout so you can lift the lid and easily access your meat. The firebox being "offset" to the side makes the heat and smoke travel through the chamber over the meat, and to the chimney.

          The ones with the charcoal directly underneath and water pan in between are sometimes called water smokers because they require the water pan as a heat barrier (otherwise w/o it you're just direct grilling) and come in either cabinet style or bullet (round) style like the Weber Smokey Mountain. They come in cheapies and very very expensive pro-level models like the Backwoods line.

          The Meadow Creek Pig Roasters come in either charcoal or gas-fired. They utilize a direct cooking method, however somewhat similar to the PBC they don't burn the food as if grilling, but the lid stays closed and the internal atmosphere creates the right amount of ebb & flow to hold somewhat steady temp ~300degF for 12-13hrs on 80lbs charcoal for avg hog. They are cheaper in the Pig Roaster line, because the pig roasters are much less engineered than the offset smokers, they're essentially a giant grill. Meadow Creek also makes smokers in addition to hog roasters. Their smokers are NICE machines, reverse flow trailer mounted offset rigs (which can still cook a hog but also excel at traditional low & slow like ribs, brisket, etc) or the BX50, which is a mean cabinet (Box) smoker. These are pro quality units for sure.
          A pig roaster is deisgned to roast a pig, not to do indirect smoking. That's not to say you couldn't rig it up with a little ingenuity...but if you want versatility, go with the smoker vs the pig roaster.


            This thread is more appropriate in the Grills and Smokers channel. We should also ask Max's input.


            Sorry if I put this in the wrong thread.

            So if I decided to go with an offset box but wanted something custom and a little bit cheaper than the Meadow Creeks, Langs, Yoders of the world to start. Would a group who does custom pits like Custom Pits in Georgia (http://www.custompits.com/) be a good option?

            What I like is that I could have them build exactly what I want or a modified version of one of their existing models. I could keep my initial costs reasonable and then add more features down the road once I become familiar with the cooker. They are also local (1 hour away) so if I had issues or needed adjustments I could logistically handle those a lot easier than builders located much farther away.

            Do you have the ability to do high heat direct grilling with an offset cooker? Or would I need a separate charcoal insert underneath the grates in order to do direct grilling?

            I guess I want the versatility to both barbecue and grill depending on the client and needs for a certain event.


            • boftx
              boftx commented
              Editing a comment
              Not having ever used an EOS, but having read the descriptions that imply some can be used as a grill as well, I'd think the big issue with those would be ash cleanup.

            Freckle: Most companies that make big competition and catering rigs will do custom work. Like many, you are gravitating toward a fabricator in your neighborhood. Makes sense, especially if you want custom features because you can go there. talk to the owner and discuss what you want for now and the future, get your hands on their gear and access the quality, then go pick the dang thing up when it's ready. Problem is, you're in Georgia, so you have more options than someone in Seattle.
            Never heard of Custom Pits. That doesn't mean they aren't good. On the other hand, you're down there in Lang country, and we all know about that great name!
            Big competition and catering offsets have multiple heat zones. You can sear and grill direct in the firebox, smoke and hold in different areas of the smoke box and many, like Lang, have warming cabinets that can also be used for smoking.
            You can do a lot with one of these big pipe smokers, but it takes SKILL with four capital letters.


            • FreckledandBlueCatering
              FreckledandBlueCatering commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks Max.

              So it sounds like you definitely think Lang is a solid product and worth the money. I agree. Just weighing my options and trying to get the best value.

              What other options close to Atlanta do you know of besides Lang and the Custom Pits outfit that I found?

              So it sounds like the versatility in the offset smokers comes in that there are essentially multiple heating areas for different temperatures (assuming you have a warming box added on)?

              If I were to go with Custom, which of these would you lean towards as a starting point for a custom model:

              ~500 Gallon Smoker (http://www.custompits.com/product/th...gallon-smoker/)
              ~A1 Competition Smoker (http://www.custompits.com/product/a1...tition-smoker/)
              ~The Mini Beast (http://www.custompits.com/product/the-mini-beast/)

              Given what I am looking for with our catering operation.

            Lang is a big name with a top notch reputation. Another Georgia company is Bubba Smokers, similar to Lang, and I'm sure there are many smaller fabricators like Custom down your way. Even without the additional cabinet, you have different temp zones in a big rig.
            I don't know exactly what you're looking for. The three models you selected are basically small, medium and large. You need to determine what capacity you need and may want to go bigger for future growth.


              I guess that's what I'm having trouble with is determining capacity as well as versatility.

              Like you mentioned, a lot of these smokers have different places to cook so that obviously means additional capacity. I guess I'm also looking for the different zones for grilling and barbecuing.

              If I'm interested in the ability to do 100-300 people events how much barbecuing/grilling capacity would you suggest?


                Best to discuss this with the manufacturer. Most offer extra shelves to increase capacity. Plus, different meats require different shelf space. A good example is ribs vs butts. You'll get a lot more servings of pulled pork per square foot than ribs. You may want to consider holding area as well.


                  Max, do you have any knowledge on how BBQ Caterers typically hold food hot after it's finished cooking without the meat drying out?

                  In my mind, every piece of food that comes off the cooker will not be ready and/or needed to be served immediately.


                    Am I correct that you currently have a catering business and are looking into adding BBQ? If yes, you're current methods can be applied. As noted previously, big professional offsets have different zones and some can be used for holding. There are other devices available as well that are typically used in commercial restaurant settings like CVap: http://www.winstonind.com/products/family/category/cvap


                      Yes that is correct. We are looking to add BBQ.

                      All of our current proteins are cooked in an oven/griddle/saute pan/deep fryer.

                      We feel that this would add extra capacity and help us to set ourselves apart in the marketplace. Just trying to figure out the best way to go about it.

                      I have a Big Green Egg at home but they recommend only using Lump Charcoal on it. It seems like Briquettes with wood chips are the way to go based on numerous sources including this site. Any recommendations for how I should practice our recipes to ensure we can make high quality BBQ consistently before taking the $$$$ plunge on a mobile smoker setup?



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