Get to Know Your Sources!

By, Jim Knepper

One of the keys to winning in BBQ Competitions and successfully growing your BBQ Business is Consistency!  Consistent service, consistently nice preparations and most importantly, consistently great product!  If you’re purchasing based solely on food costs from large ‘contract’ suppliers or in Wholesale Clubs, you may be finding the quality of your end product to be somewhat inconsistent and that has a LOT to do with the fact that they aggregate from a large number of suppliers that can be quite geographically diverse, not to mention their ‘husbandry’ techniques!

I recently read an article that outlined the growing difficulties for Chef’s who source product locally because of the many logistical and supply ‘issues’ in doing so, but in the end if you know who raises your proteins and produce and you’ve seen it ‘on the hoof’ or in the field, it’s going to help to make you a better producer and without question you’ll have a more consistent end product.  This is not a new concept to those of us that have been in the BBQ business for any length of time, because ‘back in the day’ the cuts that we use for smoking today, weren’t readily available in mega-marts or through contract suppliers!  (Talk about food costs increasing…I remember Pork Shoulder UNDER $1/lb!)

As the ‘Farm-to-Table’ movement continues and the emphasis on connecting the ‘big’ chefs with local suppliers capable of providing a consistent supply and quality of product grows, so do the opportunities for anyone interested in providing great BBQ meals!  No matter whether you’re cooking for your family and friends, or if you are operating a commercial cookery…more farmers farming locally is a good thing!  Even in the larger urban areas, there is a LOT of momentum for Urban farming and a growing farming community within a short drive.

SO…get to know a Butcher.  If you don’t have one VERY close by, make it a ‘destination’ and a habit to visit on a regular basis.  As you buy products from them over a period of time, you will develop a relationship and rapport that will lead to more consistent results and a better end product.  Same goes for produce!  There’s a resurgence in the Farmer’s Market today and even in the BIG cities, you’ll find folks who grow awesome and sometimes not oft seen produce and then bring it to a market to sell until it’s gone.  Where to find these ‘sources’?  A brief search of ‘the Google’ will provide a number of online resources!

Enjoy more consistent results and a much better end result by keeping it as local as you can and get to know where everything you cook comes from! – Enjoy your week! – jak

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