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Holding Techniques for BBQ restaurants
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vtsmoker
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20 10 5:47 am    Post subject: Holding Techniques for BBQ restaurants Reply with quote

Hi guys, I'm new to the board in the sense that this is my first post. I have read probably thousands of posts on various topics over the last few months. I am in the process of planning a BBQ restaurant for my town. I have looked over tons of stuff and settled on the Ole Hickory as opposed to southern pride mainly because of the cost/great customer service stories I have read here.

My question is how do you guys hold the Q. I am planning on cooking my butts overnight, then the next morning loading up the ribs/brisket/chicken. As such the butts will be done before they are actually served, and to stop from having to reload it at midnight every night to have fresh pork for dinner service. Do you keep the butts whole in a warming cabinet or pull them? I have looked into the idea of using a heating/proofing cabinet to be able to adjust the humidity in hopes of keeping the meat moist.

Any ideas or feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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BRBBQ
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20 10 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

which OLE hic smoker are you buying? Most have the hold option
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20 10 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are several brands and models of hot-holding equipment available, you will need to find which one will both fit your budget, and also has the features that you find most important. I bet there are at least 10-15 different manufacturers out there and choosing can be difficult.

A cooker with a hold feature is great for not needing to be right there when the food is done, but to do butts overnight, and then start other products in the morning, it makes that hold feature unusable.

A proofing cabinet is not going to cut it since you need to hold food in excess of 135 degrees or higher, since a proofing cabinet is usually a lower temperature range because yeast cells die at temperatures in excess of 110F

If I was trying to do what you are doing, I would consider a little pellet-muncher for holding product while the other stuff is cooking in the real pit.
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vtsmoker
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20 10 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I toyed with the idea of multiple CTOs for redundancy and hedging against equipment downtime. But I have settled on the EL.

I am trying to make the process such that the fresh meat comes out every day for service. With butts looking around 14 hours the meat would have to be set at 8PMish nightly to have it ready by 10 for lunch service. Which to have it again fresh for dinner would need to be something like 2am, which is the problem. How to balance the ability to hold the product vs quality loss.

This is where the idea of a heating/proofing cabinet idea came from. I have found multiple units that have maximum temps of 185-200 but still have the humidity control, basically via a submergered element in water. Such as this one
http://eaglegrp.com/ProductListDisplay.asp?numDivId=1&SubCatID=332.

I was wondering if this is a viable option that people use or if the pork butt can hold up for 6-7 hours in a regular holding cabinet at 150ish degrees.

I see that Alto Sham with the halo heat is the gold standard, but a local used dealer has an excess of the above linked unit. And the price difference is substantial.

Thanks for the feedback.
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kurtsara
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20 10 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't you just use a Cambro with this warmer in it?
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20 10 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

although almost any holding cabinet will hold food and keep it at a safe temperature for service 6-8 hours later, you got to think about the quality of that meat at that time.

What is it going to look, smell, and taste like several after hours after sitting in a very warm damp environment?

I have successfully removed butts from the cooker before they reach pulling temp. cooled, wrapped, and done a re-heat on them and I had excellent quality using that route. The few times that I have tried hot holding for more than an hour or two, the pork starts to get a very funky smell and flavor and it get sticky like old chicken that was held hot. More like a pork roast that granny made in the crock pot than pork out of a smoker.
It needed sauce to cover the lesser quality, and I refuse to sauce meats so I found other routes for it to leave the kitchen at a better cost ratio than tossing it out.
I bet nobody would have complained if served as-is, but it was not consistent with what I like to present to my customers and I feel consistency should be the main goal of every cook.

Cooking BBQ on a commercial basis is one of the toughest restaurant menu's to use IMO. All your stuff takes hours and hours to cook, then it does not hold well.
Compare that to most any other type of restaurant where the food is held raw, and only cooked to order and you will quickly understand what I mean. It is real easy to keep a decent food cost ratio when there is no waste involved, and nothing is cooked until it is ordered.

Edited to add;

Did anyone see "Kitchen Nightmares" last night? the cook at this woman's restaurant would prep menu items months in advance, freeze them, then thaw and reheat them when ordered. She only know how to cook "Factory Style" and new nothing about being a line-cook.
It turns out she was a caterer, and she only knew how to cook food en masse for a single serve time.
She had no idea how to prep things fresh for people ordering at will, at different times of the day. And it was friggin nasty. It was a Mexican menu, so the only things really needed to be done before dinner service was the rice and beans, but she had everything on the menu prepared and either held-hot, or frozen to be heated to order.
So Chef Ramsay did a re-design on the menu, and none of the cooks in that place even had the talent to cook fish or steaks to order. they were sending out raw fish, raw steaks Etc Etc. So Ramsay placed one of his chefs there for a few months to get a workable staff that could handle being line-cooks instead of factory food assembly workers.

I bring this up because catering and restaurant ops are two totally different ways of cooking, and techniques from one style do not work with the other. So please workout your procedures over and over and make sure the quality is what your customer will expect before trying this venture.
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daddywoofdawg
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20 10 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would A:just plan on doing a second load later in the evening.Plan B:get another smoker maybe a cheap gasser to finsh-up your first load the smoke just gives the food flavor doesn't really cook the food the heat cooks the food so a gasser could work for you.
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Bbq Bubba
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vtsmoker wrote:
I toyed with the idea of multiple CTOs for redundancy and hedging against equipment downtime. But I have settled on the EL.

I am trying to make the process such that the fresh meat comes out every day for service. With butts looking around 14 hours the meat would have to be set at 8PMish nightly to have it ready by 10 for lunch service. Which to have it again fresh for dinner would need to be something like 2am, which is the problem. How to balance the ability to hold the product vs quality loss.

I see that Alto Sham with the halo heat is the gold standard, but a local used dealer has an excess of the above linked unit. And the price difference is substantial.

Thanks for the feedback.


This will kill a new BBQ joint.
As soon as you figure out that you need to cook in advance, cool and re-heat for service, the longer you will last in this business.
To serve fresh, everyday would take 3 guys running shifts round the clock and your still going to run out of fresh product eventually.
Sorry if that came off brutaly honest. Smile
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vtsmoker
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That Kitchen Nightmare thing is kind of funny because I did watch that and I do also happen to be a caterer as well. But not to the extent that I am ignorant of running a restaurant. I have been in the restaurant industry for 10 years, however not in BBQ. I have done Q multiple times for catering events but I time it such that it comes out the cooker around 2 hours before service and just have a team of pullers to serve the fresh product. Hence my questions about the restaurant process.

Brutal honest is good with me I like straight answers, thanks Bubba. I had thought of the possibility of cooking a large load in advance then reheating as neccesary per lunch/dinner shift, I was just unaware that this was the common practice in Q restaurants.

So do you guys cook it to a set temperature like 170 then remove it, then reheat it to 190+ before you pull, or do you just cook it to 190+ originally to liquify all the collagen?
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daddywoofdawg
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've tried it both ways and it seems if you pull it off at 170ish it seems to take 4hrs to come back up to 170 so i just go the full way and pull.the reheat doesn't seem to take as long.
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kingconsulting
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cook at higher temp = less hours
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qfanatic01
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21 10 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harry, very well said and pretty much exactly what I said in the sticky.

Robert, agreed as well and I have to say that I originally cooked higher and when I learned more about smoking I started cooking lower. I think the higher heat actually broke down the cartilage better in the spares with the meat staying the same texture. Probably better flavor from the cartilage as well. I finish my butts in an oven after 5 hours in the smoker and also reheat at higher temps both in sealed hotel pans. Which gives me moister meat throughout the day. I works for me.
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Pit Boss
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22 10 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In all seriousness, you can hold whole butts for HOURS with zero loss of quality.

A Metro holding/proofing cabinet isn't that expensive (even a new unit) and is all you need to hold your butts all day. As long as you wrap the butts in plastic/foil for holding, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars on a holding cabinet. A $1,700 Metro is all you need for day in & day out holding.

I cook overnight, take butts off and into the holding cabinet in the morning, get chickens going by 9:15, and potentially cook chickens once or twice more during the day.........all before getting more butts on that evening.

You don't need to pay extra for a cook & hold feature on your pit if you're going to be cooking multiple times during the day.

I would not pull the pork and try to hold it all day. Keep the butts whole. Meat holds best the larger the piece it is. Keep it whole and pull it only as you need it.

I really can not believe anyone would suggest you cook, cool, & reheat to be successful...or that it would take 3 people working around the clock to cook fresh everyday. I am only one person, have no employees, and cook fresh every single day............one set of hands, one back, one smoker. It's not a hard process.

I also have a friend who owns a fairly large 300 seat restaurant who will do more takeout & catering than he seats up front that cooks fresh bbq & chicken every single day. He even finishes his whole hog quarters & cook all his chickens on a traditional North Carolina pit (actually cooking hard wood down into coals in a separate area and manually shoveling those coals across the bottom of the pit during the cook). He only has one pit guy.
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vtsmoker
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22 10 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pit Boss,

So you take your butts out every morning and just hold them whole in a holding cabinet until dinner service without loss of quality? This is ideally what I had planned on doing, do you have a temp that works best for you doing this? And I wanted the smoker going every day because it will be out back in a seperate building in a downtotwn area where the smell will be beneficial to drawing the potential customers. I am actually meeting with the landlord today to have a look at the building, I have peeked through every hole and schemed now I get to actually measure inside.

And I have items built into the menu that will use leftover pork/chicken so that it reduces waste as much as possible.
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Pit Boss
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23 10 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally do not know of a bbq restaurant (of the ones I have actual knowledge about) that does not hold their bbq throughout the day. It's common practice.

Yes, I hold butts (whole) all day with no loss of quality. That is EXACTLY what you would be doing if you had a pit with a cook & hold feature. You'd be holding the exact same piece of meat for the exact same amount of time.

Years ago I would hold whole hog quarter on an OHPit w/o even wrapping them. They just held all day...no problem.

As far as temp...I didn't let the meat temp fall below 140. My cabinet temp would stay around 145-155. I personally liked double wrapping the butts in plastic.
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wheels61
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 25 10 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

great thread guys.
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Bbq Bubba
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28 10 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pit Boss wrote:


I would not pull the pork and try to hold it all day. Keep the butts whole. Meat holds best the larger the piece it is. Keep it whole and pull it only as you need it.

I really can not believe anyone would suggest you cook, cool, & reheat to be successful...or that it would take 3 people working around the clock to cook fresh everyday. I am only one person, have no employees, and cook fresh every single day............one set of hands, one back, one smoker. It's not a hard process.

I also have a friend who owns a fairly large 300 seat restaurant who will do more takeout & catering than he seats up front that cooks fresh bbq & chicken every single day. He even finishes his whole hog quarters & cook all his chickens on a traditional North Carolina pit (actually cooking hard wood down into coals in a separate area and manually shoveling those coals across the bottom of the pit during the cook). He only has one pit guy.


when do you cook brisket and ribs?
How many you serving daily?
You have time to pull pork as you make a sandwich or platter by yourself?
I'm talking a busy raunt, not a small carry-out.
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Pit Boss
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29 10 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbqbuba.....well, when I worked & managed a 300 seat bbq "joint" that did several covers a day & more than that through take-out & in caterings every day we used much the same methods I use now (just on a grander scale).

I know you're from Mich & might not be able to understand how things get done down south, but it does get done.
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Bbq Bubba
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30 10 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pit Boss wrote:
bbqbuba.....well, when I worked & managed a 300 seat bbq "joint" that did several covers a day & more than that through take-out & in caterings every day we used much the same methods I use now (just on a grander scale).

I know you're from Mich & might not be able to understand how things get done down south, but it does get done.


and for that i apologize. Laughing
Are you only serving PP?
Were serving a 4 meat menu and as hard as i tried, it could not be done fresh everyday.
Would love to hear any ideas you can give me though!
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browe
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30 10 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Put me in the same camp as Pit Boss. We serve between 300 and 600 people a day depending on the day of the week plus whatever catering and lunch deliveries we are doing. We smoke ribs and chicken fresh twice a day (three times on Saturday). We smoke our butts and briskets once a day starting at 8pm so they are ready when we open the next day at 11am. We hold butts and briskets throughout the day but we also supplement when we run low with both that were chilled the previous day.

I have two EL/EDX smokers with cook & hold. That is a very nice feature if you are cooking every day. Somedays I wrap and put back under hold but others I just use one of our Alto Shaam warming cabinets. I was able to find my warming cabinets used for about $1400. They do a good job but there is a difference between a fresh 195 degree butt compared to that same butt that was wrapped and held for 4+ hours at 150-160 degrees.
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