A Simple Guide to Setting Up a Professional Barbecue

By Phil Scoble


As hospitality venues come to reopen following the COVID-19 crisis, one thing is becoming clear: Social distancing is not going away any time soon. 

This is going to place a huge challenge on getting catering operations up and running both for staff in cramped kitchens and for customers in small venues. 

But if your premises has an outside area – a courtyard or a beer garden, for example – there could be a simple solution to this challenge: outside catering.

Cooking up a storm – safely

Barbecues are the perfect option for businesses looking to get back up and running this summer. If you are looking to create simple, wholesome meals that reflect the summer months and, hopefully, attract your customers back out as the country gets over the COVID-19 crisis.

A few points need to be addressed before you take on barbecuing professionally – the Government’s Food Agency outlines a few good hints and tips to ensure you get known for the taste of your food and nothing else: 

Black doesn’t mean cooked: Make sure it’s cooked all the way through (no pink) and  that the juices run clear for minced products such as burgers, sausages and kebabs. 

Chicken and pork should be cooked in the oven first before being finished off on the barbecue – they’ll still have the smokey taste, but won’t poison your customers! 

Defrost meat in a fridge overnight or in a microwave using the defrost setting just before you use it – don’t defrost in the open air! 

Have hand sanitiser and hand wash stations available near to the cooking site and clean your hands often

Change your utensils often

DON’T wash meat of any kind – the splashing of the water spreads germs, bacteria and viruses

Store raw meat separately, use different chopping boards and utensils for cooked and raw foods and wash your hands immediately after handling raw meat

Equipment considerations

The key to getting the right setup outside is having everything to hand – and there are some key bits of equipment you will need to get set up: 

1. Barbecue

Obviously, it’s hard to cook a barbecue without a…barbecue. Most professional setups use gas units to speed up cooking and give them guaranteed cooking conditions  – something that can’t be guaranteed with a charcoal barbie. 

The unit you choose will depend on the amount of customers you expect to serve – a four burner unit could be expected to make up to 220 burgers per hour, up to a ten burner making an incredible 560 burgers an hour

The larger your barbecue, the more foods you can cook. It’s also important to remember if you want to add a vegetarian option, you’ll need to keep an area for non-meat items.

2. Refrigeration

Keeping food ready for cooking close to your cooksite is vital to efficient cooking operations – many of the top brands on the market produce high quality units that could withstand a season outside – check out our options from Foster, Williams and True. 

3. Hand sanitisation and hand washing

To avoid a food poisoning problem and also to prevent the spread of COVID-19 hand wash basins which can be set up anywhere and hand sanitiser units, are both brilliant ways of helping staff to stay clean, but also, in an open cooking site, it will help your customers feel comfortable that your site is serious about hygiene. 

4. Social distancing measures

As much as it is hard to say, Social distancing is going to be a part of life until at least the end of 2020 – and the experience the retail sector has had shows you need to enforce it with physical signs. We recommend  floor stickers and barriers to help manage lines of customers and freestanding perspex screens for payment areas. 


Although it’s going to be a bit strange and challenging to set up outside, for many pubs, restaurants and cafes with the space, setting up a barbecue is the perfect way to reopen your business safely and responsibly ahead of a full reopening whenever there is a cure for this devastating disease.

For more details on the Food Standards Agency guidelines for running professional barbecues, check out this page: 

https://www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/barbecues å


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