Anatomy of a BBQ Event

My twins have been out of high school for two years. But, for all four years of their high school career, my family planned and executed *MANY* BBQ dinners for various sports teams, the marching band, cheerleaders, faculty, coaches. We had ZERO experience in “catering” or party planning when we started and were always coming up with things we missed and/or needed. I could never find a central resource to help me plan properly. So, I wanted to post this and hope that one day some parent is searching and comes across this for help! (I hesitate to say “catering” because that makes it sound professional when we were just involved parents having fun. )

BIG SPATULA comes in REAL handy when BBQing !
Gotta get a BIG Spatula….this is an 8 pound pork shoulder!

I won’t tell you how to make your BBQ, that will be your decision on what to make. We usually provide lots of pulled pork, but we have a really good chicken dish that is EASY and QUICK that I will post later and it is DAM GOOD! But, I was asked previously about a sauce and vinegar I shared and I wanted to link it here so this post would be a one-stop shop for whoever is looking to plan an event!

Mustard Based Sauce — A HUGE HIT at my most recent BBQ.
Vinegar Sauce — I was never a vinegar person, but THIS IS GOOD!

Sauces and Vinegars
I like a nice presentation at an event. I also noticed that if I called the vinegar “Experimental Vinegar” or “Vinegar X”, more people would try it…people are weird. LOL

You probably are here for some info about planning a party I will now just create a list for you. This list is only for the EVENT itself, NOT your BBQ supplies. You can ALWAYS email at We have done multi-day events where we have had to provide dinner on Friday, all three meals on Saturday, snacks, and drinks. This info will be for a simple BBQ catering event. Good luck and make sure you have fun! Tensions WILL RUN HIGH! 😉

General Catering Items

Various meals we prepared
No mattter if it was pizza, sandwiches, BBQ, pasta, etc; the above list was our basis for a successful event and I would tailor from this list OUT to what we planned to bring. LOTS of happy and appreciative kids over the years!

Quick Hit Tips off the top of my head

  • Sides in cans can be easily prepared on site. Open can, dump in pan, add seasoning, cover, heat, serve. Lots of beans spilled in my car to learn this lesson.
  • If you refrigerate meat, which I usually do after shredding, give yourself MORE TIME than you anticipate to re-heat on the sternos. 90 min at least for pulled pork. Yesterday was a pain as it wasn’t warming up and lunch time was fast approaching. (Uncover and turn the meat a time or two to evenly heat!)
  • Hot water in a thermos for your water pans can alleviate the above a bit.
  • Don’t count on anyone else if you don’t 100% trust them.
  • Make sure you have access to the designated area well before setup time. If you have 90 minutes until show time and you need to heat up and the area is locked with no one to allow access, you are going to be sad.
  • Don’t go cheap on serving utensils or gloves. You WILL regret it asap!
  • Variety of sauces are always a hit with large crowds. I never pre-sauce meat, let the people decide.
  • Get your racks and water pans set up IMMEDIATELY and get the fires going. Everything is based on that water getting hot and heating the food up ASAP!
  • Setup a nice dessert table if you want and an additional drink area. All of this AWAY from the main food line. With delicious BBQ and sides available, people get a little aggressive. Thin it out as much as possible! (Depends on location, obviously. )
  • Google Tasks, or a similar app, is GREAT for making lists like above and ensuring you don’t forget anything. I had *ALL* my stuff together for a big event for wrestling and I FORGOT PLATES! I am a double list checker ALWAYS now.
  • A lot of this is probably weird, but it all happened to me. I am writing this as much for ME as I am for someone GOOGLE`ing for where to start with a catering BBQ event!
  • *NEVER* jam 16 cases of water into a Hondsa Civic. Trust me.

Thanks for reading. I have executed these events so many times and I am sure I am forgetting something. But the above list should have you 99% ready to make it happen! Make your own list and go through each station of your table setup. PLates. Napkins. Forks. Racks. Pans. Sternos. Lighter. Water. FOOD. Foil. etc etc etc

Feel free to email me if you would like to discuss an event or if you are nervous! I HAVE BEEN THERE!

Pork, beef, pasta, pizza….kids will eat anything! But they LOVE the BBQ!

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VERY BASIC ebook on how to use a wood burning smoker to smoke a delicious bone in pork shoulder!
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(Literally my 1st ebook. People kept asking me HOW DO I COOK A PORK SHOULDER. I kind of wrote up the instructions for a bunch of people and decided to drop it on Amazon in case anyone thought spending a buck would be worth the risk. Not comprehensive or THE BEST, but it’s my BASIC strategy with obvious tweaks for time and temp and preference. )

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