Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We Feed People, a Catering Epiphany

I love January. In Texas it is pretty much all we get as far as winter is concerned. Just enough to say we did it and long enough to be glad it is over with. January is also low season in the catering business. It is the month where J-BAR-H books 30% of our business and cooks 5% of it. So needless to say we have a lot of time on our hands to think about the year ahead. We will feed about 40,000 people this year through company picnics, weddings, corporate catering, church events and private parties. We spend this time of year coming up with better ways to add value and meaning to that one point in time where those 40,000 people's lives and ours come in contact.

So I am sitting here in my shorts shivering at the brutal 50 degree Texas winter days and thinking what is it that we do here at J-BAR-H? I mean really. It got my inner existentialist thinking and wondering at the meaning of it all. We are a catering company. We are an event planner. We help brides realize their dream weddings, but what does it all mean? At the end of the day what have we done? And then it hit me...we feed people. Pretty simple statement and clearly a matter of fact, but it is more than that for us...I mean, certainly we feed people, we are a caterer for crying out loud. But what we do is more than just bring food to an event, we nourish peoples bodies and provide a catalyst for fellowship. And as a company we have committed to feeding those who can't get a good meal on their own through missionary organizations and ministries which feed not only the bodies of the people, but their spirits. And further, we develop our people in their professional skillsets as well as their personal growth. So when it hit me that the essence of what we do is feeding people it was quite an epiphany...

For those of you who know don't know how this company came into existence, it was through church ministry. We were asked to join a project 6 years ago for a church and as they say...the rest is history. At every single turn we have been able to see God's hand in what we do. From our fantastic growth to the limitations placed in front of us, we believe our company has a purpose beyond building shareholder value...we build value into every person our company touches.
I am humbled to be able to make a living doing what I love, and to take that very same thing and make people happy. I love seeing people eating food they love and J-BAR-H loves making it and serving it to them. Even though we are faceless in 90% of the events that we do, we see the smiles and take everyone of them home with us.
Do you do what you love? If it is possible, I encourage you to start over and work from your purpose. My purpose is feeding people. What's yours?

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I think it is a reasonable statement to make that Texas is known for brisket. Brisket IS Texas barbecue and no one does it like Texans, right? Right. (As a shameless plug, it is a natural extension to say that no one does Texas Brisket like J-BAR-H Texas Catering, and certainly none better.)

BUT, and this is a HUGE but, don't make the mistake of saying that Texans make THE BEST brisket, especially if there is a Jew within earshot! I made this assertion on a national catering forum and let me tell you...the retribution was swift, harsh and unrelenting. I was dog-piled by a number of good natured people informing me that the Jews were making brisket thousands of years before Texans even learned to speak English. GENERATIONS of people were thrown at me to make this point, and like the true cowboy I am, I stuck to my guns...for a time. But like the great cowboy poet once said, you've got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.

So, this week, out of respect for the East Coast Mavens, I will be experimenting with Jewish Brisket. If for no other reason than to make an informed decision. Regardless of the outcome, the results will not be posted here NOR will they ever be discussed outside of private conversations with my castigators. (Where is Kinky Freidman when I need him?) I do have my pride, even if it is a tattered remnant of what it once was, I wear it like a sarape, a banner of past battles won and lost, slung across my shoulders as I ride into the Texas sunset...

Friday, January 16, 2009


A friend of mine is a "man food" maestro. He is king of wings, a topper in poppers and the chief of beef. Where we really cross passions is in bacon. He sends me items he finds from lurking on, who knows how many, blogs and websites. So a few weeks ago he sends me this recipe, can't even remember the name now, but it was breakfast sausage filled with chopped bacon and cheese and wrapped in, you guessed it, Bacon. My arteries were seizing as I read the recipe, but I couldn't stop reading mostly because of one phrase: "take the bacon weave and carefully wrap it around the sausage roll up..." Bacon Weave????? A new phrase immediately entered my lexicon and I went to applying this manly textile in as many places as I could. Mike had previously sent me a recipe for the "Alien Probe" which was sausage wrapped around an Anaheim pepper stuffed with cheese and smoked for a couple of hours. Meat perfection it was...until we wrapped it in the best fabric of all... the bacon weave. What was manly and awesome became somehow more manly and awesomer with the simple addition of the weave. J-BAR-H Catering fed the men of the Frank Danna Man Bash last weekend and amid the sliced sirloin sandwiches, smoked & grilled bologna sandwiches, jalapeno poppers and buffalo wings, the Bacon Weave Wrapped Alien Probe stood head and shoulders above the rest...

So why is that? Why is bacon such a manly food? And why did I go through 10 pounds of bacon in barbeculinary research? I think like so many other things guys do...bacon is bad for us. Isn't that where our most fun comes from? Jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, running with the bulls (ask Diana about THAT one!) eating 6 pound, hamburgers and entering food eating contests. If it can kill us, then it is fun. The faster it can kill us the more we will pay to do it.

So with that in mind I tried to take the bacon weave to new heights. Where could we go with this? I decided that I also wanted to mess with a personal sized bacon weave and had a lot of fun with it. When you cut the strips in half long ways and then width wise they become the perfect size for a one up and when draped over an upside down muffin pan become little bowls of goodness. First thing that came to mind was spinach salad in a bacon bowl, then I moved to spring salad, then of course flattened out it became a perfect woven topping for breakfast.
There just really was no end to what a man can do with bacon...it's everything that manly food should be.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

We are rolling out our Weddings Made Easy program today and are really looking forward to showing Houston that weddings can be affordable AND still leave a great impression on their guests. This fits nicely with our unwillingness to participate in the recession and passing that sentiment on to our clients! Given that we ONLY do buffet catering, we are already ahead of the competition on price.
We have also developed some decor packages that they can use, even if they don't have us do our full buffets. They are called Wedding In A Box and come complete with table linens, chair covers, centerpieces and other decor items. This, coupled with our great catering prices, will really help the budget-conscious bride push her costs way down.
I know there is a lot of money to be made in weddings, and we are definitely not afraid to ask for our fair share, but I think there is also alot of money that can be saved, with some minor adjustments in expectations. If budget is an issue, and I know it is not in many cases, then is it absolutely necessary to have sit down service? Each server is going to cost upwards of $150 and most weddings end up needing 8 or more plus chef time and dish rental. Are ice sculptures even relevant any more? They are cool and get noticed, but how many weddings have you gone to where they didn't have one? Do we do them because we have to, or are expected to, or because we just love perishable artwork cliches? How about full bars? Thousands can go down the drain in a few hours and then someone has to deal with the drunks. Better to set a few bottles of wine on the tables and some beer on ice and when it runs out, it runs out. This saves not only on booze, but on labor and liability as well. There are many ways to save money on weddings while still producing an affair to remember, we just need to identify the trade-offs and who to make it pop without the missing elements.
In todays sensibilities, I think a nice, reserved wedding, with great quality food is going to be appreciated not only by the guests, but the brides and whoever is footing the bills. We look forward to helping our customers make fabulous memories!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Antipasto Platter

We made these antipasto platters for a casual New Years Eve party.

New Year New Ways

So we are getting this year started out in defiance of the economy. We have chosen not to take part in the economic downturn of 2008-2009 and are looking forward to a prosperous year.

J-BAR-H Texas Foods, LLC and Texas Longhorn For Hire have teamed up to create unique wedding packages as well as combine our marketing efforts. (Mostly Diana's marketing efforts!)

Our new "Planner Points" programs will reward our regular customers with free J-BAR-H products and food while we save their companies money.

We will also be bringing in new online ordering capabilities that will allow our planners a much easier to use interface. Be looking for that to come online at some point 1st quarter.

We wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2009. Remember, you can choose not to participate in the recession!!!