Got a crew to feed this summer? A really big crowd? Call in Pineridge Barbecue, from Hensall in Huron County. The stainless steel charcoal barbecue can cook 440 quarter-chicken pieces every 90 minutes, 3000 chicken wings in an hour, or 800 burgers in 20 minutes. It is a self-contained 22 by 4-foot cooking machine with a rotisserie system that dips the meat into marinade as it cooks. The result is tender, juicy, barbecue chicken and ribs, ready for the plate, in record time.
Pineridge is heading into its thirty-fourth season of providing catered meals. It has chalked up some impressive results, claiming to have now served millions of meals. Those numbers have been achieved due to some extra-large events. For instance, Pineridge once served 28,000 people, when Honda was building its new plant in Alliston. Another 21,000 people were fed at a horse auction near London.
However, the main focus of the family business is weddings, smaller party catering and storefront sales. Bill Taylor co-founded the business when he and a partner (who is no longer involved in the business) saw the “catercar” at a trade show in Indianapolis. They bought it, and the rights to sell it in Canada. Taylor’s son, Dan, now works alongside his father operating the barbecues (they have several in different sizes). “When we started we did farm shows,” says Bill Taylor. “Now we have 57 weddings this summer. There are a lot of barn weddings and weddings in non-traditional venues which hire us to bring in the food.” For most events, the food is cooked at the offices in Hensall for quality control. It is then taken to the event with smaller barbeques where other items are finished off on the grills, adding smoke and atmosphere to the event.
The company has a full-time chef, Laura Annesley, who was trained in Quebec and Ontario. She is in charge of everything but the meat. Pineridge offers a variety of hot and cold appetizers, side dishes including 20 salads and desserts, all of which are made in-house. The only item brought in are rolls from Bartliffs Bakery in Clinton. “I will make anything, and Dan and Bill are so open to that,” says Annesley. Her bacon and cheese stuffed mushroom caps, grilled vegetables and salads are fresh and flavourful. She also makes sugar form, sculpture and 3D cakes, which are popular for weddings and special events. Under Annesley’s guidance, the company now offers meals for specialty diets including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free. For example, grilled stuffed zucchini is a popular new item. Annesley also supervises staff, as the company provides servers, dishes and set-up/take-down at events.
Mostly this business is all about barbecued meat. Beef and pork are sourced from Metzger Meats, also in Hensall. In fact, only a small field separates Metzger’s plant from the Pineridge offices on Queen Street. Taylor says that Metzger’s smoked pork chops, sausages, pork loins and prime rib beef are especially popular with his customers. Chicken comes from Maple Lodge Farms in Brampton. On occasion customers will supply their own meats to be barbequed at Pineridge, including rabbit and buffalo, says Taylor.
A new business line for Pineridge is selling frozen cooked meats in vacuum packs, from the Hensall offices. Pineridge sells barbecued chicken pieces, ribs, chicken wings, pulled pork and shaved beef ready to thaw, warm and eat. During the summer season the vac pac meats are also sold at Masse Fruit and Vegetables on the Hensall Road near Highway 21, which provides easy access to cottagers. If customers want heated meals they can call ahead and book take-out from the Pineridge offices, which are open seven days a week from spring to fall.
When it opened in 1985, Pineridge developed a tomato-based barbeque sauce in two flavours: mild and hot. While the meats really do not need sauce due to the marinade basting while cooking, the sauces add a nice punch of flavor. They are sold in plastic squeeze bottles at the Pineridge offices, and at catering events. “No one does chicken like we do,” says Taylor proudly. Clearly, with millions of meals served, there are plenty of people who agree. It is an excellent addition to your summer deck party when you do not want to do the cooking.
Pineridge Barbecue Co.
174 Queen Street West, Hensall