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BBQ Etiquette

Is it considered rude to invite to a BBQ, say you (the host) will provide all sides, but that guests should bring the meat/vegetarian entree they choose and grill it themselves?
I have invited a crowd all of whom seem to have various hangups/dietary restrictions: one is a vegetarian; another loathes chicken; another is not allowed to eat pork; a third is allergic to seafood; yet another one refuses to eat sausages or beef. I'm pulling my hair out with these finicky guests. Is my solution (bring your own meat) rude?

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  1. Whether or not it's considered rude, have you considered how you're going to do this? Do you have more than one grill? Or do you plan on cleaning the grill between meats? Many vegetarian won't eat their vegetables after meat has been on the grill. If somebody is allergic to seafood, you need to cook all seafood after that person has been served. If somebody is not allowed to eat pork, they need to have their meat grilled before pork's been on the grill.

    1. I don't know if it's rude, since you're setting the rules in the invite, and people can choose whether to participate or not... it is, I think, very unusual and awkward, since many folks may be unaccustomed to buying, prepping, and then properly packing their stuff to travel raw... then, what, everyone has to cook their own stuff on a limited amount of grill space? My preference would be to go ahead and plan a "mixed grill" that will meet most folks preferences... I would tell them I'm preparing chicken, ribs, burgers, and veggies (or whatever combo) on the grill, and invite them to supplement if they have the need.

      1. I agree with woodburner. I wouldn't ask them to bring their own meats. I'd just go with 2 or 3 mixed options on the grill, and leave it at that. That is a very accommodating way to handle the issue without killing yourself while also being a perfectly good hostess.

        I can understand how it can be frustrating for you. I eat neither beef nor pork (dietary reasons), and am allergic to shellfish. However, I am very content with eating the salads and sides in the absence of suitable grill options at these sorts of events (as well as at any events I go to), since I don't feel that the host should have to bend over backwards for me just b/c my digestive system is a bit chaotic. I think few people with serious dietary restrictions would expect you to provide the item specific to their diet. If they want to bring something along to throw on the grill for themselves, good for them.

        Just put together a nice party, put a smile on your face, and have fun!

        1. Your group dynamics really stink, don't they? Maybe you should have 2 BBQ's and invite the ones that are most compatible, diet wise, to one and then the other a following date. As far as chicken goes, then (considering this picky group) you may have to have only dark meat or only white. LOL! I personally do not like dark meat, but usually there is something else I can have, like sausage of ribs, but if there isn't, I eat a thigh. The only people that I insist they serve me some white meat, are my daughters. That's fair because I had to cater to them as kids, right? Others, I just shut my mouth.

          5 Replies
          1. re: danhole

            I agree with everyone here, that asking people to bring their own "main" would be, well, difficult. If this were my gathering, I would probably provide the standard fare (chicken legs and breasts, burgers and hot dogs) and not worry about having two grills or cleaning the one I had. The vegetarians can nosh on the salads and sides (Im sure they know how to do this) and if anyone really feels the need to bring soy burgers or something special for themselves, it could always be cooked inside. If anyone stood around one of my BBQs and whined that there was nothing there they could eat, I would hand them their car keys and thank them for coming, and tell them (as my late husband was so fond of saying) "come back when you can't stay so long."

            1. re: Cheflambo

              "If anyone stood around one of my BBQs and whined that there was nothing there they could eat..." I would beat them with a heavy chain. But that's just me.

              1. re: Cheflambo

                "come back when you can't stay so long." Love that saying. So appropriate in many situations!

                1. re: danhole

                  I had an uncle whom we all dearly loved who was never at a loss when it came to guests who had outstayed their welcome. He would turn to his wife and say "Well, Mother, let's go to bed so these nice people can go home".

                  1. re: GaryR

                    My husband beats your uncle, in the fact that he doesn't say it, he just states "I'm going to bed. Good night." and leaves the room. A bit awkward for me, but if I am enjoying myself, I tell them to stay. If I am tired as well, and they start heading for the door, I just smile and say Good night!

            2. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/285686

              This thread gives lots of vegetarian grilling ideas. If you do something vegetarian, some chicken and beef you should be covered. Skewered things might be a way to satisfy all. Just be sure to dedicate a corner of the grill to the vegetarian entrees.

              1. for something informal like a cook-out i don't think it's rude as long as it's clearly spelled out in advance. i have a social group with similar preferences/limitations & one couple hosts cook-outs like this. it works fine. they generally set up 2 or 3 grills, one reserved for the vegetarians (in my group many are actually pescetarians, so seafood is grudgingly ok on that grill). one grill is generally dedicated to chicken, the other beef/pork/etc. the only probably i've seen is cooking pork on the beef/pork/etc grill as several in my group have pork issues & don't want their beef touching it.

                1. Once again jfood gives a resounding "it depends".

                  Here is one scenario where it seems very appropriate. Everyone's been living in an apartment complex together, and great friends, and one couple finally buys a house with a pool a mile or so away. Everyone wants out of the apartment on weekends and it become "let's go to dick and jane's." D&J wants everyone over as well but just bought a house and budget is tight. They tell everyone, sure come over and share the yard and pool but can you bring stuff to grill since things are a little tight with the new house. Does anyone disagree that this is fair?

                  Wrt the various picky eaters. The host(ess) can try to please but there are limits as well. One of jfood's dear friends cannot have meat or cheese. And when the BBQ is planned this is absolutely taken into account. But vegetarians can always have the numerous sides that are prepared, seafood takes so little time to cook (and usually the priciest, so shrimp is usually an app, not an entree), last on the grill is not a problem

                  Jfood would choose two proteins, probably chicken or beef plus a fish and go from there. You can only try to separate. But in jfood's group, separating is not what the doctor ordered.

                  1. I guess my friends/guests just aren't picky. I invite them over for "burgers and brats" or "chicken and ribs" and tell them to bring a side. If the main course isn't acceptable for them dietarily, they're welcome to bring something they can eat or make do with what's being served as sides. No way am I going to coordinate/attempt to cook 6-7 different entree choices.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: podunkboy

                      We also do things that way (the host provides all/most of the entree type stuff and the guests bring sides & such). Typically though its the guests bringing more of the entree type stuff to fire up on the grill.

                    2. I do think asking them to bring and grill their own main course is quite awkward. Grill a vegetable, chicken, and beef and everyone should have something to eat. If you want you can let them know what you are serving, so they can bring something extra if they want. I don't think it's as complicated as you are making it sound...while each person can't eat one particular thing, they can all be accommodated with a reasonable number of choices. Doing veggie skewers, chicken kebabs, and beef burgers, for example, is not too hard. I would do similar even without your specific restrictions.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Nicole

                        If you asked me to bring something to grill for my hubby and I we'd probably go to the wings and rib place, get takeout and bring it over. Usually people sit down and eat together or in groups and that would make it awkward as well.

                      2. I've heard of it called a "Steak Out." It was a common in my nieghborhood, growing up.
                        Get it -- stakeout! Everyone brought her own grill thing and maybe a pot luck dish. Hosting family provided the grill and sides, paper plates, yada.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: nemo

                          We just call it a neighborhood party. Tomorrow night, in fact. Everyone brings sides, desserts, and beverages to share and each family hauls out their own grill and cooks their own main. It works great for block parties where we can all run back to our own kitchens and fridges when we forget something. I think it would be a bit more complicated with invited guests from elsewhere driving up with slabs of ribs, whole chickens, legs of lamb, et al.

                        2. Its pretty common practice among my friends when there's a grill party. "bring your own meat" and then people share.

                          1. I've been to many parties like this and also made similar requests when hosting - actually sometimes at the request of the guests. I think most people can manage to bring something safely. There is the issue of grill contamination. I've seen people handle this by having a vegetarian and a meat grill, but with allergies and religious restrictions you might need several grills! You could always offer your oven/stove for anyone who is uncomfortable with the grill situation.
                            To be honest, it can be a little awkward... people waiting for grill space, some people have steak and others have hot dogs.. I do find it less than ideal to have everyone eating different food. But if you & your crowd are relaxed, and there is lots of other food, it can work out just fine.

                            1. I just said goodbye to 8 houseguests this morning (ok 4 of them were only here one night, but the rest were here 2 weeks) of the 4 long term guests one was vegetarian (nothing with feet) and one had a more complicated diet situation...no nightshades so no bell peppers, no potatoes... AND 2 of them would only eat fruit before a meal not after...which meant dessert wasn't going to be the usual homemade fruit salad. It takes some planning but if you really want the company...then you make the accomodations.

                              Sausages and pork are easy enough to avoid(kosher rules are a bit more involved obviously...but presumably if you make your best effort so will your guest), ditto for seafood. I'd suggest chicken for some, veggie burgers and good ol' hamburgers for the others...just keep the grill 1/2 veg 1/2 meat (sans pork) and you should have all the bases covered. That is of course assuming you still want the company...which is the whole point of throwing BBQs right?

                              1. I dunno... I haven't read all of the responses. However, is the fault really with your guests? Are these the only people you know? When I plan a menu, I ONLY invite friends I am absolutely sure will enjoy it. For those left out, if I get around to a menu they will enjoy, they will make that guest list. But for 25 people who only like 25 different things, have you considered picking up the tab for taking them all to an all-you-can-eat buffet? I don't think your problem is the guests. I think your problem is the guest LIST!

                                1. Simple: Make a bunch of kebabs that include some purely vegetarian and others that are veggies and chicken and/or beef. Don't spend on pork or seafood. The chicken and veg will satisfy the no beef person. Voila! All their a**es covered.

                                  1. Sorry to say, the type of party is not compatible with the guest list. I just don't see how you could juggle providing for everyone's restrictions, and personally I'd be hesitant to ask everyone to bring their own meat. Might a "potluck" approach be received better?

                                    If you were to invite the same guest list to ... for instance ... cocktails, picture how different the response might be.

                                    1. Something like this is all in the marketing. If you've already invited everyone, then it's *this* close to being too late. I'm with other people to plan doing a bunch of stuff... you can have a batch of burgers, some grilled chicken, grilled veggies, et cetera. If you plan a BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat) party and mention it as such on the invite, you can have a lot of fun doing it.