Let others do the cooking at your next cookout

  • Rick West/rwest@dailyherald.comGale Martin of BBQ On Wheels pulls out some freshly boiled corn for a birthday celebration at JR Carlson Labs in Arlington Heights Tuesday.

    Rick West/rwest@dailyherald.comGale Martin of BBQ On Wheels pulls out some freshly boiled corn for a birthday celebration at JR Carlson Labs in Arlington Heights Tuesday.

  • Rick West/rwest@dailyherald.comSide dishes offered by BBQ On Wheels Tuesday included mostaccioli, macaroni and cheese and baked beans as well as fresh salad.

    Rick West/rwest@dailyherald.comSide dishes offered by BBQ On Wheels Tuesday included mostaccioli, macaroni and cheese and baked beans as well as fresh salad.

  • Rick West/rwest@dailyherald.comBarbecued chicken was among the offerings by BBQ On Wheels at a cookout in Arlington Heights Tuesday.

    Rick West/rwest@dailyherald.comBarbecued chicken was among the offerings by BBQ On Wheels at a cookout in Arlington Heights Tuesday.

  • Rick West/rwest@dailyherald.comBBQ On Wheels catered a barbecue at JR Carlson Labs in Arlington Heights Tuesday.

    Rick West/rwest@dailyherald.comBBQ On Wheels catered a barbecue at JR Carlson Labs in Arlington Heights Tuesday.

 
By Sally Eyre
Daily Herald correspondent

Summer is the season for celebrations. Our calendars are dotted with graduations, showers, weddings, and those essential block parties. After the winter we've had, being able to be outside, chilling with a cold drink and the smell of grilling wafting over our heads is a feeling close to paradise.

Still, let's face it; entertaining is a lot of work. There are months of cobwebs and debris to sweep off the deck, new cushions to find for patio chairs and wiring the backyard for sound! Who has time to cook? You don't have to. Why not leave the cooking to someone else?

BBQ on Wheels, a family-owned business, has been rolling their grill to events across the Chicago area for decades. These grille's know their stuff. The family traces their meat business back to 1880, and they still make their sausages and bratwurst. BBQ on Wheels will pull in to your party, set up the grill, and provide a buffet of sides you've chosen from their extensive menu. Choosing which menu plan you prefer is the fun part -- because BBQ on Wheels understands that barbecue is a regional specialty. Choose the type you like: southern, Texan or stick with Chicago Hot Dogs, the choices are plentiful. They are even happy to come and roast a pig -- it takes a few hours -- but the results are worth it.

"We're doing something right," says office manager, Sara Johnson. "We've been doing this for 40 years." Sides are fresh and homemade, and they're paired to go with the theme you select. Pricing is on a per person basis with the price going down for the more people.

Orchard Prime Meats, in Lake Zurich, is a butcher shop known for their pig roasts. They do the pig roasting (a process that takes 10-12 hours) at their place. They will deliver the roasted pig and carve it on site, and all you have to do is set up the tables. They'll bring their cheesy au gratin potatoes, a garden salad and baked beans. Their hot boxes keep the food hot for 4 hours.

Perhaps you'd prefer a bit of flair in the presentation, and for that, it is difficult to beat the drama of Weber Grill's giant kettle grills. Weber Grill, in Lombard, can do smaller parties, serving just 50, but boy can they do fancy parties for up to 500 guests, cooking everything on site, bringing out a dance floor or tents -- whatever you need. They might start the party with their popular grilled vegetable appetizer, served with homemade ranch dip and move on to the main entree. Again, you pick the menu. Choose baby back ribs with bourbon baked beans or The Weber Signature Party that serves up salmon and steak with a Cesare salad and garlic mashed potatoes. If something is missing on the menu that you'd prefer, Weber is happy to customize. Weber works with a minimum food and beverage fee.

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One of the hottest new trends in catering is having a food truck pull up to your party. When the Grill Chasers truck rolls into your driveway, it's carrying a full-service kitchen capable of serving 190 people in 90 minutes. Owner Gary Steinberg says summer is their busiest time. "We do parties as small as 50 people to 500; it's not a problem because the truck has four chef stations. "Grill Chasers are known for their grilled chicken and slow-cooked pulled pork. They bring out a bunch of different homemade barbecue sauces, and the party becomes a culinary exploration. They make a variety of wraps, skewers and wings. They share the recipe for their garlic Parmesan fries with us today.

The Toasty Cheese Truck takes a departure from the barbecue highway, offering grilled cheese sandwiches with a gourmet twist. Owner Greg Barnhart explains why a food truck for your party makes sense.

"The big advantage is that we bring delicious food and it's a hassle-free experience. We bring everything you need, and then we clean it up."

Toasty Cheese was the first of five different food trucks now traveling in the Toasty Cheese Restaurant Group. All are available for parties. The Toasty Cheese offers up sandwiches like The Great Dane -- named after chef-son Dane -- which combines smoked bacon and apples for an elegant change to the usual grilled cheese. And because you can't have a grilled cheese without tomato soup, they serve up tomato bisque.

The good news about the food trucks is even if you don't hire them for your next party, you can scout them out online and find out where they'll be open for business.

For your next party, let someone else do the cooking.

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