John Maher:  Hi, I’m John Maher. Today I’m here at Woodman’s with Curt Fougere, a fourth‑generation Woodman, and Kristi Swett, a fifth‑generation Woodman. Today, we’re talking about backyard barbecues. Welcome, Kristi and Curt.

bbq ribs on a grill

Kristi Swett:  Hi, John.

Curt Fougere:  How are you doing?

Throwing a Catered Backyard Barbecue

John:  Good. If I want to throw a backyard barbecue and have it catered, what are some of the things that I need to consider?

Curt:  The biggest thing you would need to consider, I think, is your space for your people. You want to have a party that’s going to be well‑flowing for people to move around into.

You need tables, chairs. You may need a tent in the backyard depending on weather forecasts. You need the space for all that to be put into one area for your guests not to be traveling all over.

John:  Maybe decide how many people you want to invite, and then look at the space that you have available and decide if, in fact, my backyard is the right place to have this?

Curt:  Exactly. In your backyard, you want to be able to fit tables, chairs, and let the people be able to move in and out of the chairs comfortably, or a tent. You may need a space that the tent will fit into plus tables and chairs and for the caterers to be able to serve, also.

John:  How much space do I need for a barbecue, and how much space does that barbecue equipment, like grills, take up?

Kristi:  It really is determined by the barbecue menu you’re deciding on. The equipment varies in terms of grills and the amount of equipment we’re bringing based on guest account. That equipment doesn’t necessarily need to be in the backyard with your guests. We sometimes do cooking on the side of the house or in front in the driveway.

One, for safety, depending on how tight the area is. Two, depending if we are using some propane for some of the items, it could get quite loud so just to keep the noise away from the party.

John:  Is it dangerous to set up propane tanks and grills and things like that when there are maybe kids running around? Is that something to consider?

Kristi:  Yeah, it’s always something we look at. Where are the people going to be entering the space? We want to set up away from that area. If they’re coming in from the right side of the house, we might want to try to stay to the left.

Best Setup for Backyard Space

John:  Just so that people don’t have to walk right in front of the grills and everything in order to get to the main party space. What’s the best setup for my backyard in terms of a space for people and a space for cooking, like Kristi was saying?

Curt:  The best space was what she was saying. The caterers want to be off to the side, out of the way of the guests that are coming in and out of the party. Usually, you want to have an area where we can cook, which may take up a 10×10 foot space for our cooking, depending on the number of people that you’re having.

Then, we need an area to serve off of, also. We do a lot of buffet‑style servings or serving a full‑serve as in a China event or with wait staff. It depends on the type of party that you’re going to have.

John:  What if my backyard is not flat? Is that an issue? If I’m going to have a party like this, especially if the caterers are going to come and set up grills, is it a concern if I have an uneven space in my backyard?

Kristi:  Yeah, the terrain is definitely something to consider in terms of “can I set up tables here or are things going to roll off of them? Is it too steep for my guests to stand and enjoy the party?”

We can always set up our cooking and serving area at different locations, so they don’t necessarily have to be right next to each other. If there is a spot that we can set up our serving tables close to where the guests are, we could always do the cooking in a different area.

Woodman’s Grills

John:  Does Woodman’s use gas grills or charcoal grills and why?

Curt:  Mainly, we use charcoal grills. We like the charcoal. It gives a better flavor than the propane with the charcoal cooking. It’s easier to maintain our grills that way. We can add flame to them by adding charcoal, burning a long time.

The gas grills tend to be very heavy and take up a lot of space, so loading them onto a truck and off of a truck, it’s more dangerous than charcoal grills, which we can basically just move around.

Once the charcoal’s out of them, they’re very light. You can usually pick them up — one person, a man, usually, or a woman that’s physically fit could pick one of them up by themselves and move it around if they have to.

John:  Is there anything that I, as the homeowner, need to provide in terms of equipment or facilities?

Kristi:  Not for the catering end. We typically bring everything we need to cook and serve the meal, including your buffet tables, all your paper products, cooking equipment, and serving equipment.

Something to always think about is, what’s going to happen after the caterer leaves if they’re not staying for the whole event? Is the bar going to continue? Do I have trash receptacles to put out when the caterers do leave?

John:  That’s great information. Kristi and Curt, thanks very much for speaking with me today.

Kristi:  Thank you, John.

Curt:  Thank you.

John:  For more information about catering, visit the Woodman’s website at or call (978) 768‑2559.

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