Selling concessions at state fairs, outdoor music events, rodeos, and other events is a lot of fun and is a great way to make money. Many people have gone into business for themselves as food vendors and made more money than at their previous jobs! To maximize your profits and streamline your operations, it’s essential that you have the right kind of equipment and knowledge base. Expert food vendors share their recommendations with aspiring fairground restauranteurs.
Buy the Correct Equipment
You may have never noticed, but each appliance you purchase at a department store or electronics center will have printed on it the notice “For household use only.” Take this caution seriously. The appliances that you use in your home every day are tested and approved for the kind of conditions that exist inside a home. The conditions of a commercial kitchen – such as the kind you’ll be working in while vending at a fair – are such that household appliances won’t perform as well or will break down at a rapid rate. The heat in addition to the speed and frequency of appliance use will wear out the components inside the appliance.
If you’re serious about selling food concessions, then you will have to buy the proper equipment. The best place to find commercial kitchen-quality appliances is at a restaurant supply store. These stores are relatively easy to find in large cities, though it’s become increasingly easy to find restaurant supplies online at very competitive prices. These stores also sell napkins, serving containers, plastic utensils, cups, and everything else you’ll need to successfully sell food.
The Tools of the Trade
To a certain extent, the kind of food you’re selling will dictate the appliances you purchase. For instance, if you are selling French fries, doughnuts, corn dogs, onion rings, or anything else that needs to be deep fried before serving, you’ll need a heavy-duty deep fat fryer. A large griddle powered by electricity or natural gas will make many common foods very easy to prepare. Hamburgers, pancakes, hash browns, thinly sliced meats, and grilled cheese sandwiches can be cooked in moments on one of these high powered surfaces. Industrial-strength food warmers are also helpful to keep prepared food ready to serve to customers; adjustable controls on these warmers allow you to closely monitor the temperature and make certain that it is in the range specified by the FDA Food Code
The Knowledge You Need
A well-stocked kitchen will only take you so far; there are other things you need to be ready to cook at an event. All professional food vendors must have successfully completed a food handler’s course, have their certification up to date, and be in compliance with all state and local laws. Provided the equipment is used correctly and proper food handling techniques are followed, there is little risk of contracting a food borne illness while snacking at an event.
The customers who purchase food from you are trusting that you; by choosing to vend food at an event, you are setting yourself up as a type of professional restauranteur. This means that it’s essential that you do everything necessary to protect the well-being of your customers. Make sure you keep your food handling skills sharp and make food safety a habit.
Experienced food vendors have learned that ambition will only get you so far in the concession business. Equipment and skill will help you succeed in this challenging – though rewarding – commercial enterprise.
By: → Lawrence Reaves