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How to Start a

BBQ or Hog Roast Business

Everyone loves a good BBQ - the smell, the crackle, the theatre!

About the business

It's the smell. That very distinctive smell of summer and of good times - it lures you in!

The classic BBQ or Hog Roast continues to be a firm favourite with the public, drawing in the crowds, and even attracting private event work such as weddings and private parties. A lot of caterers have this type of catering either as an add-on to their business, or alternatively as a part-time enterprise, mainly at weekends when most private functions take place.

The rise of the Street Food movement has seen an increasing amount of creative and unique offerings in both BBQ and Hog Roast. From American Smokers and flame grilled BBQ, to unusual cuts of meat and different breeds of animal; added to which are a dazzling array of flavours, sauces, toppings and sides, inspired by cuisines from every corner of the globe.

The Main Advantages of a BBQ or Hog Roast Business:

1) Hugely Popular

Hog Roasts and BBQs are firm favourites at all types of events and shows, from Private Parties to Farmers Markets and even Music Festivals. While each type of event should be approached differently, and have their own nuanced way of working, both BBQs and Hog Roasts remain very popular with the public and are potentially very profitable.

2) Low Start Up Costs

The entry level for setting up a BBQ or Hog Roast business can be very low indeed. You can start with a large BBQ costing as little as a few hundred pounds or spend several thousand on a package from a Hog Roast or BBQ specialist.

3) Good alternative for Weddings & Private Parties

Three course meals for 50+ people are expensive, and a BBQ or Hog Roast offers a less formal and more cost effective way of feeding a lot of people quickly. The growth of the Hog Roast in the wedding market has been quite remarkable, and it is likely that the UK trend towards casual dining has led to a shift in perception on what people want from a wedding or party. People feel less obliged to throw money at a stuffy sit down meal, and both BBQ and Hog Roast businesses have benefited.

4) Great Theatre

Everyone loves the smell of a BBQ or a Hog Roast, and they love to see the food cooking - it’s a sensory delight for many and this will encourage them to buy from you. The smoke, the smells, the sounds of meat crackling on a fire, it’s pure theatre, and it draws people in and helps you sell food. For this reason, the Hog Roast or BBQ should always be on display.

5) Versatile

You can cook pretty much anything on a BBQ. This means that you can offer a varied menu and potentially upsell more food. You can offer different types, cuts and qualities of meat and different marinades, at different prices.

6) You don’t need to be a Chef

You don’t have to be the world’s greatest chef to run a Hog Roast business or a BBQ, you just need to ensure that everything is cooked through (so as not to cause food poisoning). Cooking meat on a BBQ or putting a pig on a spit does not require excessive culinary expertise, making it a great start up option for someone looking to run their own food business, without having to be a trained chef.

The Main Disadvantages of a BBQ or Hog Roast Business:

1) High Risk of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can, and does kill. BBQs are one of the worst offenders due to the meat often not being cooked properly. It's very important to have clear training on Food Safety and to stick to these principles, as well as a clear understanding of the risks, and a risk assessment which documents them.

Whether it is through under cooking, not washing hands regularly or effectively enough or cross contamination between raw and cooked, there are many ways a Hog Roast or BBQ can go wrong, causing illness to customers.

2) Everyone thinks they can do it

Every man and his dog thinks they can BBQ and everyone has had a go, leading to more competition. You will need make your product stand out or be prepared to compete on price.

This also means that you are competing with amateurs for the work, so you must be clear to your potential customers that you are a professional, that you know what you’re doing and that you know how to avoid making their guests ill.


3) Waste

The main disadvantage of a Hog Roast is scaling up and down. It can take half a day to cook a large pig on a spit, so you need to make sure that it’s ready when your potential customers are going to be hungry. If the hog isn’t ready in time you will end up with a lot of pig to take home or throw away.

Waste can also be a problem at events where the projected footfall isn’t realised. You can end up with large amounts of unsold stock, while other traders who are cooking to order, or perhaps from frozen, will not have nearly that level of waste.

Providing Caterers with the 

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What To Think About


  • Is it for you?

Working and running a Mobile Catering business can be great, but it can also be very difficult. Don't go into it blind. Find out more about it by reading our articles looking at both sides of the coin:
           - 10 Reasons why Starting a Mobile Catering Business is a Great Idea > Click here
           - 10 Reasons why Starting a Mobile Catering Business might not be for you > Click here

  • ​What Unit you will operate from

What type of unit are you going to operate from? There are 4 main categories of units and each of them have their advantages and disadvantages. Find out more below:

 Motorised Food Van  Towed Catering Trailer Stall or Gazebo
Food Cart 

Your Equipment

If it hasn’t got the CE label, don’t buy it - no matter what anyone might say. You will not get a Gas Safety certificate for it, and therefore will be operating illegally. 

Event Organisers will want to see your Gas Safety certificate and you won't be able to trade without it. Even if you find work at small private functions, you could have some real problems with insurance companies if you ever need to make a claim, let alone with the law if you are prosecuted.

Where To Trade

Where you trade is obviously critical to the success of your business. There are a variety of different options that you can choose from, you might even operate from a variety of different locations. Below are some ideas as to where, and you can find more information in our Get Profitable section.

Shows & Events

From village Fetes to week long music Festivals
> Read More


Street Food, Farmers Markets, Car Boot Sales
> Read More


Lay-by's, Car Parks & Industrial Estates
> Read More



What price are you going to charge for your food or drink? Obviously this will depend on what it is that you're selling and where it is that you are operating. Food and drink often costs a lot more at shows and events than it does on a roadside, but then you will probably have to pay more in fees at a show.  

How to Operate Legally

Many people start in catering because they like to cook and maybe have hosted some larger house parties. The thought of becoming a professional caterer is very appealing, however bear in mind that when you provide food for others there are rules to follow.

As soon as you say yes, even if you're not getting paid, you are a professional caterer and you are responsible and can even go to prison if things go badly wrong. Therefore, you need to ensure that you comply with a variety of laws and standards to ensure that you are operating legally. Our Get Legal section has a lot of information to help you on this. 

Have a look at our Start Up Legal Checklist to ensure that you have everything covered > Click here


Don't even think of operating without Liability Insurance. Not only is it a legal requirement, it's not expensive and will cover you against accidents and food poisoning. Have a look at our Insurance section to get more information as to what type of Insurance you need > Click here 

Find out what Members think of NCASS

> Go to Testimonials link

How to Succeed

In order to succeed we think you need to do / have the following things:

  • Do lots and lots of research

Research, research, research. You need to find out as much information as you can before you start, to know what to expect. What to sell, where to sell, how to sell it! This site should help you with lots of your research, but you might also want to consider buying The Complete Guide to Profitable Catering - it takes a lot of the information on this site and goes into more detail. You might also want to speak to some experts face to face. For more information > Click here  

  • Have a Support System in place

Where are you going to get answers to the many questions that you have? Where are you going to get the reassurance that you are doing the right thing or the confidence to change if things aren't going to plan? You might know someone else who has done it and therefore you can tap them up for information.

By being a member of NCASS you can call us with any questions or queries that you might have.


  • Have lots of Determination

There's no doubting that in order to succeed in this industry you need to have a lot of determination to keep on going when the going gets tough. It's not an easy trade, especially in the depths of winter when you have to go out and trade in the cold weather but you'd rather be at home or in an office in the warm. That's the main difference between those who last 1 season and those that last 20.

Want to know more?

Read the book

Profitable Catering

> Click here

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Become a member

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Go to Testimonials > Click here link