The Caterers Corner
Portable Refrigeration Caterers Corner: Portable Refrigeration
By mikesul on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 01:00 pm: Edit

Our Largest growing market segment is in concessions and BBQ's. Most events are held in parks, etc. with little or no electricity. I am looking for the most efficient way to handle refrigeration/freezing while on the road. I am considering the following:

1. Building a self-contained walk-in cooler/freezer, park it on a trailer and tow it around.

2. Buy a box truck and insulate it to make it a portable unit.

3. Buy a used refrigeration trailer.

4. Get a better idea with help from the forum.

I am wasting valuable staff time trying to maintain proper refrigeration. For my one-time really large events, I borrow a trailer from my suppliers but I am looking for a solution which will provide better temperature regualtion and lower my labor costs.

Any ideas?


By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 02:12 pm: Edit

Lease a refrigerated truck, how about buying a generator or two to run refrigerators.
How big are the events?

By Matt (Matt) on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 03:17 pm: Edit

You can rent a refrigerated truck on a per event basis. They are reasonably priced. Depending on the size of your events your food supplier should be able to let you use one of theirs. We just received a contract for a fairly large concessions job and our food purveyor is letting us use their truck. They just drive it to the site and park it and we don't worry about a thing and everyone is happy. We also use a lot of marine coolers with ice. They're much larger than your normal cooler and work quite nicely. If you find yourself doing quite a few jobs were your needing a truck then the best bet is to go ahead and probably lease or buy one. Hope that helps.

By mikesul on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 05:41 pm: Edit

Our events vary in size. We have a weekly event that which we serve about 400-600 per week. I need decent space for refrigeration and freezers. Small ones won't work.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 06:04 pm: Edit

How are you serving them? Sometimes it might be wise to send a truck later on in the day just w/ the food so the food does not suffer from temp. abuse for so long.
What are you serving?

By mikesul on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 06:36 pm: Edit

Marinated Chicken, Sausage, Salads, etc. These are all very temperature sensitive foods. We are already sending later trucks. That increases our labor, puts more pressure on the event as back-up food is not nearby if needed, and it's a pain in the ass. I do too many of these events, especially where we cook at the site on grills. I really feel that this equipment is necessary and I'm willing to spend the money to do it right.

By Matt (Matt) on Monday, July 23, 2001 - 11:18 pm: Edit

If you're willing to spend the money to do it right and you're doing alot of these then it's probably best to go ahead and invest in the refigerated truck. I would look in the way of used or possibly a lease. Just be sure if you buy used that the truck isn't USED up, if you know what I mean. That's what I would do in this situation.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 06:30 am: Edit

When we do events like that, believe it or not the best thing we have found are coolers, we put the food right in the coolers and the cooks feed the grill right from the cooler. Those coolers stay pretty cool especially if you pack it in the walk in the day before and leave them cracked open.
Chicken, burgers, hot dogs, salads...etc.

When I say send a later truck, I'm talking about one with equipment and one w/ food just when all the equipment is set up.(all the food)

By mikesul on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 12:05 pm: Edit

I got ya Manny. That is what we are doing now but our volume is too high to continue this. We do the equipment trip first then the food. We use large coolers near the grill. We use many carts on wheels to make it easier. I just want it more efficient and better controlled.

Thanks for the input!

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 11:36 pm: Edit

Another option is cooling plates. They work great.
They go into almost any box. They cool overnight, they have some that guarantee 10 deg for 12 hr. and some 40 for 12-16 hrs. I believe they are much more economical that refers.

By rornelas on Sunday, August 26, 2001 - 12:05 pm: Edit

I Really enjoy this page. It has a lot of good ideas. I am starting a catering service mainly in the oil field. What is the amount of serving per person when serving Brisket, beans and potato salad? 99% of the employees served are men.R o

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, August 26, 2001 - 07:47 pm: Edit

It depends on how much you are getting paid per person! Since they are men and, very hungry will they be going back for seconds or just loading up the first go around, or is it a sit down meal?

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