Transportation when
Your Party Hits the Road

”…did you remember the…?”

We’ve got some transportation ideas for you. So you’ve decided to cater something serious in size, or maybe you’ve just got to get the party from here to there.

Food Safety and your safety are what it's all about. You need to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold on your safe trip.

Chicken with Apple Stuffing all panned up and ready to go!

All food needs to be covered with film or bags. Plastic bags are available to cover the sheet pans, half sheet pans, and lots more. Restaurant suppliers and on-line sources stock them the special sizes.

But even more important is timing and temperature: Be sure to read about the Four Hour Rule in our food safety section. Food can stay in the temperature danger zone for four hours only – and that’s total time, including preparation and transport. Down the street or cross-town is one thing, across the county is another.

Check out Party Kitchen, then look at these two examples about how to get from here to there:

A Simple Cross Town Move:

Tomato Mozzarella Salad for the Anniversary Party.

You’re planning on 100 portions. The party is a 1-1/2 hour drive to your sister's house. It’s going a warm, summer day. The day before the Party, you put the balls of mozzarella cheese in the freezer for 30/45 minutes to firm them up for slicing. One at a time, you slice the cheese and carefully keep each ball “intact” so it keeps its original shape.

When sliced, you wrap the cheese with film, keeping its ball shape, and store in the fridge. Same with the onions. Cut the romaine lettuce into pieces and store in several large zip lock bags. Refrigerate. Your call on the tomatoes – either slice them like the cheese, or slice them at the Party. Pack the olive oil, S&P and cashews to take along.

On the morning of the Party, have a couple picnic coolers ready with 10 pounds of ice in each. Put the wrapped cheese balls into zip lock bags. Same with the onions and tomatoes. Wash the basil leaves and put into zip locks. Put the zip locked bags of lettuce into the coolers. Keep a refrigerator thermometer in the coolers - you're looking for 40^f. Close the coolers and load into your car. Take the rest of your supplies, including a cutting board and knife, and the chafing dishes you are using to serve the salad. Don't forget your gift!

At the Party, only put out what's needed, keeping the cheese, onions and tomatoes in the coolers until you are ready to serve.

See how we did this? Prep work was done at home, refrigerated and cooled, then assembled at the event. This technique works great for most of the cold foods we do.

A Complex Move with Lots of Cooking

Chicken Wings for the Volunteer Fire Department’s Annual Picnic.

You’re serving chicken wings for 1,000 people from 11am – dark. Other food is being served, so you think you need 300 portions, about 900 wings because you’re putting three in a cup. It’s a 15 minute drive from your house to the Picnic. Your husband is operating the stand at the Picnic, your friend is going to deliver the wings all day, and you are staying at home to do the cooking. Three chafing dishes are set up at the fair, which can hold 6 aluminum half pans total. The sauces are all there too.

You’re baking the wings. (If you want to fry the wings, write to us and we’ll tell you how we do it. It’s not easy and you’d have to buy some gear – but maybe you’d use it every year for the Picnic.)

Since you’re working with over 100 pounds of chicken, so you’ve already borrowed lots of picnic coolers and iced them, or neighbors are storing the chicken, you've read refrigeration for more ideas. The wings need to be thawed before baking, but not all at the same time. You stagger their thawing time.

Pick a large (55 cubic foot) picnic cooler as the one that your driver is going to be using to transport the cooked wings. Wrap 4 bricks (the kind used to build walls) with aluminum foil. Heat them in a 350^ oven for an hour. Using potholders, carefully place them on pieces of cardboard in the bottom of a camping cooler. Cover with more cardboard and use Terri-cloth bath towels for the brick’s stability. Keep the cover closed. Heat more bricks in the oven, keeping them warm throughout the day, exchanging the cool ones for fresh hot ones.

Begin baking wings at 10:15 am. As they are done from your oven and they read 165^f with your chef's thermometer, put them into aluminum half pans, cover tightly with 2 sheets of aluminum foil, shiney side down, and stack them in the warm cooler described above. Use a piece of cardboard inbetween the stacked pans.

These pans of wings, straight from the oven, will stay hot in the warm cooler for a while - just keep the lid closed. This will give you more than enough time to keep the wings piping hot between your home kitchen and the Picnic. Your husband will be checking the temperature of the wings at the Picnic with his chef's thermometer. Hers and his!

This technique, using a portable warmer that will accommodate two or four aluminum half pans, works nicely for this recipe and lots of other hot appetizers and dinners found in Party-Recipes-and-Ideas.

Vehicles to Move Food:

SUV’s – Fold down the seats and let’s load it up! Someone usually has a vehicle that you can use, especially for smaller gigs. An SUV or two, station wagon or something with fold down seats can accommodate lots of foods and supplies. Use the techniques above to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

The trick we've used to spread trash bags on the carpeted floor of the car, and then put old bath towels on top of them – 'cause you know what's going to happen sooner or later, and you don’t want to have that kind of permanent memory…!, especially in your pal's car...

Rental Vans:

Although vans are cheaper to rent than trucks, and they seem to have lots of space, what we don’t like about them is that they aren’t quite high enough for food racks or long enough for 8ft. tables leaving room to move around. But for a smaller, simplier party, you bet.

Rental trucks:

Now you're talking! Long enough and tall enough for many things with lots of room to move around, we’ve learned that a 12ft.(or larger) “box” truck is the best way to go.

It doesn’t take long to fill up a good sized box truck with tables and chairs, which is why we recommend that you have the rental company deliver them directly to your site. However, if that’s not going to work, 26ft. box trucks are available for rental.

Use the built-in hooks and handles embedded into the plywood sides of the truck, tie rope to them and secure your load so that everything doesn't collaspe during your travels. (...kinda sounds like we know about this from experience...hee hee.)

Moving Food

Below is a bun pan rack, or “speed rack,” that will hold twenty full size sheet pans or 40 half sheet pans. Great way to move lots of food. These speed racks will roll right up into a standard box truck. Fill them sheet pans of food (which you can keep warm by using a hot bricks trick above, or cold with blocks of ice – then wrapping the whole thing with film.

Safety, safety, safety. No matter how late you are, what you’ve forgotten or what’s gone wrong, Think safety! Don’t speed, and be careful.

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