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Checking In With...newport Rib Co.:

The fun of catering

November 06, 2008

Turkey Day’s coming so we thought, hey, what if you wanted to mix it up this year and really freak out your mother-in-law? How about ribs for Thanksgiving? Well, we know an expert when we see one so this week we checked in with Newport Rib Co. proprietor John Ursini to get some tips for holiday party catering.

We suppose this is your busiest time of the year. How much lead time do customers need to give you to cater a party?

Not very long! It often depends on how much service and how many people are involved. To arrange a pick up of a party pack for 10 to 50 guests we would like to have one day, but we have been able to accommodate groups of this size within an hour “if we have to.” But don’t tell my chef I said that. For groups of 60 up to 1,500 it’s much nicer to have at least a week’s notice, especially if we’re arranging for rentals, bartenders, linens, on-site cooking and/or entertainment.

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What are some of the more popular requests this year for catered parties?

Over the years we’ve developed lots of different menus to fit all kinds of budgets and tastes. Our luau menu is used more often in the summer time, our “All American Feast” of prime rib and turkey is used a lot for weddings and more formal settings, and our “Sandwich Bar” has become very popular in the past year because it’s a little less expensive than the other menus! But our basic menu with baby-back ribs, barbecued chicken, slow-roasted tri tip, sausages, and all the trimmings is, and will always be, our most popular menu. We’ve been doing this too long to vary too much from what we do best!

What are some of the more unusual requests you’ve gotten? Do you have any amusing anecdotes of catering snafus?

We catered at the 2003 Masters Golf tournament. A friend of mine from UCLA, Scott McCarron, played in the Masters and invited me to be his guest. About a week before the tournament he asked if we could bring all the Rib Co. goodies for the pre-round dinner. We shipped everything Fed Ex and it arrived in dry ice ready for me to grill. We ended up cooking for 40 guests and he went on to finish in 23rd place. I still wonder if that’s the only reason I got invited! But I’m not complaining. And the end result of the Masters catering is that we can confidently ship ribs anywhere in the country!

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