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CritterCrusher
04-12-2011, 08:31 PM
Well, I tried at my first cook-off this weekend and busted. Out of 22 teams, I didnít even place in the top ten. Has this happen to anyone else? We cooked half chickens, pork spare ribs and briskets. I stayed traditional due to a small country town thinking they wouldnít like sweet but that didnít work. I know a few guys that place on the sweeter ribs and placed.
So my question is, are the majority of you placing on sweet, traditional or spicy on ribs, brisket or chicken. Just looking for a few suggestions before I say forget it and stay home.

rxcellentq
04-12-2011, 08:45 PM
one comp is way too soon to forget it. I like sweet on the ribs, a little sweet and spicy on chicken and savory on the brisket

scm1226
04-12-2011, 08:47 PM
Worry less about where you place. It's supposed to be fun. If you had fun keep doing. If you like your Que keep doing it. Been in 7 contests over the past two years had an 8th place chicken, having fun and will keep doing it until i can't do it anymore. The walk will happen, remember not everyone can place in the top categories every contest.

CritterCrusher
04-12-2011, 09:02 PM
Oh, Fun I did have. I can't remember much of a better time. Everyone was great, helpful and kind. I have not been around a bunch of people like that in two years. It's actually quite nice to be around people like that, now I have to get my wife on board to let me do some more. :pray:

thillin
04-12-2011, 09:10 PM
I'm not sure about your part of the state. But if you want some tips, PM me.
Ty

Contracted Cookers
04-12-2011, 09:32 PM
Worry less about where you place. It's supposed to be fun. If you had fun keep doing. If you like your Que keep doing it. Been in 7 contests over the past two years had an 8th place chicken, having fun and will keep doing it until i can't do it anymore. The walk will happen, remember not everyone can place in the top categories every contest.
true that

chromesporty
04-12-2011, 10:14 PM
We cooked our first year and never made a final table. Got our first walks the second year, all bottom half of top ten. The 4th year we got our first 1st place walks and our first Reserve GC. This year, our 5th year cooking, we won our first GC. We have actually won GC at two out of three contests cooked this year. Hang in there and keep cookin'. Don't give up just yet.

CBQ
04-12-2011, 10:51 PM
Out of 22 teams, I didnít even place in the top ten. Has this happen to anyone else? .... Just looking for a few suggestions before I say forget it and stay home.

This happens to almost EVERYONE else. We went into our first comp in '06 with big expectations, and finished in the bottom 3rd (14th of 21). Last year we finished in the top ten in over half of our contests.

There is a lot to learn the first time out. Don't give up after one. As you now know, it's harder than it looks. Stuff made in the backyard may be great, but cooking everything at the same time, turning in on a tight schedule, and dealing with contest distractions takes some practice.

Since you asked for advice:

1) Your instinct is right: sweet often wins, except on beef.

2) Cooking something "different" to set you apart from the crowd doesn't work so well in blind judging (was this KCBS?). Some judges will reward your risk taking, but others will ding you for being "off" from their expectations.

3) Take a judging class and judge a few events. When you get hit with the raspberry/mandarin orange glaze on the ribs (and you will) you will see what I mean about point #2.

4) Take a course or two, or attend a contest with some good local teams.

bigjonsBBQ
04-12-2011, 11:23 PM
My first comp I finished 39th out of 47 with my best place being 20th in chicken. 3 weeks later in a comp of 20 teams, took a 2nd in chicken. I learned a lot in my first comp, and hope to learn even more in the 5 future comps I am doing this season.

Made some good new friends, learned some things, and hopefully, I might be able to get a walk or 2. My 1st comp I was next to a pretty good team, placed 9th overall, and I also learned some things from the GC of that comp. I saw he was a local team and just asked some tips on how things go and what not. I will definetley be much more prepared this year.

My first event was KCBS, and I was told by many different teams, that sweet is a good thing, except on brisket, as mentioned by CBQ. My 2nd was a non sanctioned, local event, where your tastes and flavors could win.

Good luck in future competitions! I was hooked after one event. It's an overnight tailgate followed by, instead of a football game, an awards ceremony!

Hope to meet some of you out there in the Northeast!

Lake Dogs
04-13-2011, 08:42 AM
Critter, please, dont be too hard on yourself. You succeeded if you weren't DAL.

The first comp is more about learning than anything else. That, and having fun!

Even now, years later, probably 80 comps behind me between chili and barbecue, bad outings happen. 2 years back I did a comp where the timeline was condensed shorter than we ordinarily do it and ended up we WAY over-compensated and all the barbecue went out cold as a result. Previous 3 competitions we'd walked in most everything with 2 RGC's, this comp we were WAY down in the bottom 1/3rd. It happens...

gmholler
04-13-2011, 08:58 AM
I agree, don't be so hard on yourself. It's always nice to win, sure, but the fun is what makes it all worthwhile! If this was your first time out, be realistic - what did you expect? I doubt you were competing against a bunch of other first-time cookers!

There's a lot of contest activity around you; you might want to stop by the judging area at a contest and volunteer to help out. You'll be surprised what you can learn from that!

Lynn H.

HOG WILD BBQ
04-13-2011, 11:29 AM
Sweet is the way to go

Finney
04-13-2011, 11:30 AM
This isn't "T" Ball... not everyone gets to win and/or get a trophy.

BoneDaddy's
04-13-2011, 11:32 AM
in your comp a bunch of teams finished below 10th place. It could take years to break into the top ten.

Alexa RnQ
04-13-2011, 11:38 AM
I would say that your experience is pretty much the norm for a first contest! We got stomped for a good long time when we got started. In your first few competitions, your benchmarks have to be different: Did you avoid DAL or a DQ? Did you get all your turn-ins the way you wanted them? Are you cooking a consistent product? Did you find opportunities to tighten up your process?

The only thing you can control is what goes on in your camp, and that's where your focus should be. Any veteran team can tell you about times when they've submitted the best product of their cooking career, stuff they objectively know is good, and the judges hated it. Conversely, there are those days where a mediocre product is met with approval, and it evens out the statistics. The point being, you can't control the judging, so you have to set performance goals for yourself and your cook that YOU can evaluate. Those goals should be ones that will streamline your process, improve the consistency of your product, and make you a better and less stressed cook.

Besides, one contest isn't enough to display a learning curve! Really, you learn more at a contest than anywhere else -- it'd be a shame if you didn't put that experience to use. You might well find that you display steady improvement after a few times going to war.

From your location and the categories cooked, I'm guessing that contest was IBCA -- and it's tough when you get no feedback from the judging. VQ talked to the head judge after our first IBCA contest, who actually remembered our spectacularly bad entries and had constructive comments. Without specific feedback like KCBS raw scores, I would try to learn what I could from other teams -- ask them to sample and comment on your food. And I concur that helping out in the judging area and observing carefully will offer a lot of data.

Carnivorous Endeavors BBQ
04-13-2011, 11:53 AM
CritterCrusher,

I agree with everyone else...Don't be so hard on yourself! Were was your contest held? I assume you were cooking IBCA by the 1/2 chicken, spare ribs and brisket comment.
I just got my first top ten this past weekend in DeQuincy, La even though i had a less than good cook. I placed 5th in Brisket, I made final table ribs 14th on table and final table chicken 11th. This was my 4th IBCA contest. The first 3, I was completely off of the flavor profile. So Just like Lynn H. suggested, I was advised to work some comps judging. I assisted in judging a comp last year and then recently judged a contest. I HIGHLY recommend that you judge a comp or two in IBCA if you haven't done so. It should give you a really good idea of the flavor profiles that are working for other cooks in IBCA. If you want to cook KCBS, i would suggest becoming a CBJ and judging some of those comps because IMHO it is a different flavor profile.
I am not as successful a cook as Ty but you are welcome to PM me and I will answer any questions you have and will gladly share a info I have learned with you.

Clint

Lake Dogs
04-13-2011, 12:13 PM
Also, a side note: It'll make that first call just that much better. You'll appreciate it just that much more.

Southern Home Boy
04-13-2011, 12:46 PM
He Critter Crusher... I know how you feel. In our first contest we did really well: 2nd place in ribs and 6th place in brisket. Even without cooking three other mandatory categories, we placed in the top quarter out of 80 teams.

Then... in our second comp, we got our butts handed to us - literally and figuritively. We came in 52nd out of 59 teams and didn't place anything higher than 16th. It was really discouraging. BUT, I got over it and still love competing whenever I can.

Since then, we've begun climbing back up with solid middle of the pack showings overall and usually at least one walk (interestingly, the walks have been in different categories every time :confused:) in each comp.

I continue to learn and try to apply what I'm learning and at the end of the day, if I had fun it was a win.

nthole
04-13-2011, 01:56 PM
Critter, I think your expectations might be a bit high. No matter who the cook is, placing in the top 10 your first time out is a bit crazy. Not only are you dealing with cooking for judges, you are dealing with a whole new set of issues, not cooking in a kitchen, elements, over night, 10 minute turn in windows. I don't think we cracked the top 10 in a kcbs category until our 3rd year. There is a LOT to learn when it comes to competition cooking. We treat it as a fun hobby right now, which helps keep it in perspective for us.

Remember, the folks your probably going up against do this all the time. And they got good by doing it a lot. If you really want to be a competitor you'll have to take some lumps.

Fatback Joe
04-13-2011, 02:16 PM
Quit now.............while you still can. :mrgreen:


I don't have anything to add to what has already been posted. Keep asking, practicing, and learning and you will get to where you want to be.

Good luck at your second comp. :becky:

YokeUp
04-13-2011, 03:06 PM
ya can't give up now... I'm a total rookie myself and having a blast. I've done 6 competitions and have chronicled my journey in video, check em out.. www.yokeup.net/BBQ.html (http://www.yokeup.net/BBQ.html)

and it took me 6 competitions to get a call... it's all about studying the art of BBQ from the great people involved. You gotta press on, keep learning and things will break for you.. one of the toughest things is to let go of your pride early on in the process and understand that there is a way to BBQ that wins and one that your buddies will tell you is great... they aren't the same...

Stick with it and God bless ya

jeff

thillin
04-13-2011, 10:49 PM
Hope my PM helps.

Crash
04-14-2011, 04:22 AM
Well, I tried at my first cook-off this weekend and busted. Out of 22 teams, I didnít even place in the top ten. Has this happen to anyone else?

YES! This happens for a lot of new teams and it happened to us in our first two contests.

Chalk it up as a learning experience and learn how to cook Competition Que. I'm not saying this as a diss, just reality....we've been there.

You'll get there, just practice a lot!

Lake Dogs
04-14-2011, 08:50 AM
ya can't give up now... I'm a total rookie myself and having a blast. I've done 6 competitions and have chronicled my journey in video, check em out.. www.yokeup.net/BBQ.html (http://www.yokeup.net/BBQ.html)

and it took me 6 competitions to get a call... it's all about studying the art of BBQ from the great people involved. You gotta press on, keep learning and things will break for you.. one of the toughest things is to let go of your pride early on in the process and understand that there is a way to BBQ that wins and one that your buddies will tell you is great... they aren't the same...

Stick with it and God bless ya

jeff

Jeff brings up some good points. Where barbecue at home in your back porch/yard is about socialization, having fun, sitting around drinking a few beers and/or bourbon & coke and oh, by the way, we're cookin' something on the smoker or grill. This is WONDERFUL, but it's not a competition. You're socializing and having a great time, and when it's time to eat 'ya dive in and MAN OH MAN is that good!

Competitions have very little in common with this. Your barbecue will go against another 4-6 barbecues (on that one table) and be judged by 5, 6 or more judges, many of which have judged barbecue competitions MANY times before. Even in a backyard comp you're likely to run into 5 or 6 teams that really have their act together and produce really fine barbecue, consistently. At a sanctioned comp, I'd say usually 2/3rds of the teams fit this description (if not more). At a good competition the judges are stone cold sober (no drinking alcohol; not yet), averaging probably in their mid 50's. Also, at home you're able to test/eat pretty much right away. In a competition your barbecue likely has been in that little white box for 15-20 minutes before someone gets to eat it, so at best it's a hot, but certainly not piping hot.

That's what "cooking for judges" is all about.

For a first comp there should really be only one goal, and that's to try as best you can to not be DAL. Anything else is gravy. Having fun is THE KEY. Then, for walks, learn... Make a journal of what you did right and what you did wrong. Work on those.

Hang in there!

lcbateman3
04-14-2011, 08:58 AM
My first cook off was last year. Didn't place in the top 10. Didn't come close. Heck had bunch of issues come up. But I had fun, and I wanted to do it again. Yes winning is nice, placing is nice, but I go for the fellowship and the fun of quing.

goodbuddiesbbq
04-14-2011, 01:51 PM
Last year at the Royal Invitational we lost our minds and hot routed about everything we cooked, loved it and finished 106th or something out of 115 teams.

The very next day for the open, we went back to old faithful and went 33rd out of 400+. Not everybody wins each week. It takes time and frustration and drunk light bulb moments to get a program that you like. With that being said...don't read too much into any one competition results or you'll drive yourself crazy.

Also...ask a few folks around you if they want to trade food samples with you and you can taste others stuff and see where they place to get an idea. However, don't be offended if they don't want to...I've had the luxury of trying Rub (Swamp Boys) Pork (Jack Daniels Champ), Brisket (Mulberry winner), Ribs (Mulberry Winner) and that helped me a lot.

His advice is........come to his class and pay to learn how to do it!

The samples helped us get it dialed in a bit better. Line up teams to trade with prior to turn-ins as you don't want to be a pain in the A.

guntera
04-14-2011, 07:21 PM
ya can't give up now... I'm a total rookie myself and having a blast. I've done 6 competitions and have chronicled my journey in video, check em out.. www.yokeup.net/BBQ.html (http://www.yokeup.net/BBQ.html)

and it took me 6 competitions to get a call... it's all about studying the art of BBQ from the great people involved. You gotta press on, keep learning and things will break for you.. one of the toughest things is to let go of your pride early on in the process and understand that there is a way to BBQ that wins and one that your buddies will tell you is great... they aren't the same...

Stick with it and God bless ya

jeff
Love the videos! They're entertaining!