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DevineSwine
05-25-2011, 07:26 AM
I have often thought about competition bbq and thought to myself that it seems kinda rigged. Now before everyone jumps all over me for this bold statement please hear me out. I don't mean in the terms rigged that the people who have tirelessly worked and busted there humps and shelled out tons of money didn't deserve to win! But more that these " competitions" seem lop sided in the fact that with all the new electronic devices being used and the best meat being used its kinda like taking a test with the answer sheet so to speak. To me a true competition would be having the meat purchased at the event and everyone using the same sauce and no one is allowed to use any flame gadgets. Now that would tell whose the best cook and not the best at making a sauce. This is purely for conversation and not intended to discredit anyone by any means.

Rich Parker
05-25-2011, 07:41 AM
Have you ever cooked bbq?

Bbq Bubba
05-25-2011, 07:46 AM
Have you ever cooked bbq?

Or at least been to a BBQ competition?

roksmith
05-25-2011, 07:54 AM
Yea, umm I think you'd be surprised how many teams win with plain old Sam's Club meat and no electronic devices at all. Electronics don't make a cook better, and good technique can compete with or beat more expensive cuts of meat.. no problem...happens every week.

Frank Grimes
05-25-2011, 08:30 AM
I agree with the guys above, a lot of times the winners are guys with basic smokers, Sams Club meat and no devices. Its about the cook, not the equipment. I finished fourth out of 35 teams in my first comp with a WSM, grocery store meat and no devices.

Fatback Joe
05-25-2011, 08:54 AM
Now that would tell whose the best cook and not the best at making a sauce.

People make their own sauce for contests?

redneck cooker
05-25-2011, 08:55 AM
85% of my meat comes from Sams Club, and you wont find any electronics on my Gator offset...so in a nice way:heh:...I totally disagree with your statement..:doh:

Fatback Joe
05-25-2011, 08:57 AM
My chicken, ribs, and butts all come from Sams. Brisket probably would too if the Sams around here carried packers.

ZILLA
05-25-2011, 09:05 AM
I think that you're saying that there should be a more even playing field at the competitions. It's not as uneven as you might think.

Jorge
05-25-2011, 09:12 AM
Most of the teams that win with electronic devices, could and have won with a lot more basic equipment. As for using superior meat...some do and some don't. The difference in those that win consistently and those that don't is the work and practice the consistent winners put in. Cooks win contests, end of story.

Bbq Bubba
05-25-2011, 09:37 AM
I see your in S.E. Mi. We have 9 comps this year in Michigan and several within a short ride from you. I suggest you come out and visit us sometime and see what it's really all about. :thumb:

MoGreen
05-25-2011, 09:40 AM
Nothing is rigged, as the judges are the X factor. The same chicken that finishes dead ass last one week might place well the next. Or so I'm hoping...

AZScott
05-25-2011, 09:44 AM
Essentially you are looking for a tenderness contest correct? If appearance and taste are eliminated the only thing left is tenderness. I've placed near the top and near the bottom with a fancy FEC 100 and trust me, electronics may let you sleep a little more but those electronics have issues as well. I have also used wagyu, berkshire, air dried fancy chicken, etc and have done better with meat from RD and the local grocery store. Try competing some time and you will realize it still comes down to what techniques and skills the team possesses that wins competitions.

Jason TQ
05-25-2011, 10:46 AM
Yeah Devine Swine you really need to let us know if you have done or been to a bbq competition. I am a rookie in the comp world and the furthest thing from an expert, but get most of my meat from Costco and in my first 2 comps got 7th and 2nd in ribs with their meat in the Backyard division. So super high quality "butcher shop" meat, which I'm guessing you are referring to, I would say is not in play for most of the teams.

I also completely agree with AZScott in that if all meat, sauce, and seasoning were they same then really it would simply be a tenderness contest and what is the point of that.

Also when you end your statement with "this is not intended to discredit anyone by any means", but everything previous to that last sentence seemed to do exactly that then you are kind of being a little passive/aggressive in terms of instigating. I would say just leave that out since you were quite nice in the tone of what your wrote and not offensive at all. You were just giving your opinion.

Balls Casten
05-25-2011, 10:54 AM
Rigged would be everyone using the same sauce, meat and smokers.

Sawdustguy
05-25-2011, 11:23 AM
I have often thought about competition bbq and thought to myself that it seems kinda rigged. Now before everyone jumps all over me for this bold statement please hear me out. I don't mean in the terms rigged that the people who have tirelessly worked and busted there humps and shelled out tons of money didn't deserve to win! But more that these " competitions" seem lop sided in the fact that with all the new electronic devices being used and the best meat being used its kinda like taking a test with the answer sheet so to speak. To me a true competition would be having the meat purchased at the event and everyone using the same sauce and no one is allowed to use any flame gadgets. Now that would tell whose the best cook and not the best at making a sauce. This is purely for conversation and not intended to discredit anyone by any means.

I suggest you attend a contest just to have a look and I think you will be surprised.

Funky D
05-25-2011, 11:35 AM
There are a couple of different topics here...

1. Recipe vs. Cook skill. Sure, it would be somewhat interesting to see what happens when everyone is given the same tools, same sauce, and it were just a matter of who was the most accomplished cook.

The problem therein is that, with semi-competent cooks, the difference between the worst entry and the best entry would be pretty small. In a field of say, 30 cooks, I'm guessing that any slight nuances between finished products would be so slight that even the most veteran judges wouldn't be able to tell the difference. At that point, it's a lottery, and the competition becomes meaningless. There would only be a precious few variables that the cooks could control, while FLAVOR allows for damn near infinite possibilities.

2. Technology. Yes, I miss the days of tending the pit, watching the heat, amount/quality of smoke, and the different temperature zones, and their effect on the meat.

Any large BBQ restaurant doesn't have someone watching their pit 24x7. They use large, commercial smokers that you can set to a temperature, and they will maintain it, like an oven with smoke. The premise of these high-dollar cookers is finding it's way into our backyards and campsites, and is definitely making a presence at BBQ competitions.

10 years ago, these multi-thousand dollar cookers gave some teams a huge advantage. Now, with iQue, Stoker, and many other portable solutions, everyone has access to managed heat/smoke. That's just the way technology rolls. You don't see a lot of Nascar engines without fuel injection.

I still miss the art of "pit management". It was my job on the team for a while. I miss the challenge, but I like amazing BBQ even more. The goal is to make the best BBQ you can... I think the rules are gonna allow anything and everything that makes that happen as time goes on...

Divemaster
05-25-2011, 12:55 PM
I to don’t use ‘fancy quality’ meats. My briskets, pork butts, and ribs come from Rest. Depot and my chicken comes from my local Jewel. The only electronics that we use is a remote thermometer.

Last year we had both our ups and downs… I guess one of the ups would be taking 1st in brisket for the second year in a row against what I consider some of the best teams in the Mid-West and second over all for the comp.

It can be done. Remember, it’s the cook, not the cooker…

Rich Parker
05-25-2011, 12:59 PM
Thanks to Bubba for pointing out you are a fellow Michigander. I will be at all of the comps on your side of the State this Summer, and you are more than welcome to come hang out with me and see what it is about. Send me a PM if you want more details.

6/3 - Armada
6/17 - Mt. Morris
6/24 - Auburn Hills
7/23 - Taylor (maybe)
8/26 - Monroe

My chicken, ribs, and butts all come from Sams. Brisket probably would too if the Sams around here carried packers.

Same here my Sam's carries IBP but when asked if they would carry IBP packers they say they can't get them. Funny as my local grocery store 5 miles away carries IBP packers. :crazy:

Q-Dat
05-25-2011, 01:48 PM
A WSM or a UDS can be pretty dang close to set it and forget it in terms of temperature consistency. Very minimal vent adjustment required. The only thing the pit controllers really give you is a little more sleep.

As far as meat quality goes there are teams that would still cook choice grade brisket over Wagyu or prime even if they were the same price.

Fatback Joe
05-25-2011, 01:49 PM
Same here my Sam's carries IBP but when asked if they would carry IBP packers they say they can't get them. Funny as my local grocery store 5 miles away carries IBP packers. :crazy:

Yeah, after a few of those :crazy: types of conversations, I stopped asking......they have them or they don't and I quite trying to get them to change.

DevineSwine
05-25-2011, 01:51 PM
There are a couple of different topics here...

1. Recipe vs. Cook skill. Sure, it would be somewhat interesting to see what happens when everyone is given the same tools, same sauce, and it were just a matter of who was the most accomplished cook.

The problem therein is that, with semi-competent cooks, the difference between the worst entry and the best entry would be pretty small. In a field of say, 30 cooks, I'm guessing that any slight nuances between finished products would be so slight that even the most veteran judges wouldn't be able to tell the difference. At that point, it's a lottery, and the competition becomes meaningless. There would only be a precious few variables that the cooks could control, while FLAVOR allows for damn near infinite possibilities.

2. Technology. Yes, I miss the days of tending the pit, watching the heat, amount/quality of smoke, and the different temperature zones, and their effect on the meat.

Any large BBQ restaurant doesn't have someone watching their pit 24x7. They use large, commercial smokers that you can set to a temperature, and they will maintain it, like an oven with smoke. The premise of these high-dollar cookers is finding it's way into our backyards and campsites, and is definitely making a presence at BBQ competitions.

10 years ago, these multi-thousand dollar cookers gave some teams a huge advantage. Now, with iQue, Stoker, and many other portable solutions, everyone has access to managed heat/smoke. That's just the way technology rolls. You don't see a lot of Nascar engines without fuel injection.

I still miss the art of "pit management". It was my job on the team for a while. I miss the challenge, but I like amazing BBQ even more. The goal is to make the best BBQ you can... I think the rules are gonna allow anything and everything that makes that happen as time goes on...
NO i have never competed this was just a thought but Funky kinda touched on the points i was trying to make but couldn't word correctly. But he does bring up one major influence on this point..... Nascar !!! All the Nascar teams are pretty much racing the same everything the only thing separating them is skill and body design powerplants are all the same. Again iam not trying to throw stones its just a thought. And Funky just for the record Nascar runs a carburetor still old school baby.

Funky D
05-25-2011, 02:08 PM
NO i have never competed this was just a thought but Funky kinda touched on the points i was trying to make but couldn't word correctly. But he does bring up one major influence on this point..... Nascar !!! All the Nascar teams are pretty much racing the same everything the only thing separating them is skill and body design powerplants are all the same. Again iam not trying to throw stones its just a thought. And Funky just for the record Nascar runs a carburetor still old school baby.

True, but the point there was that everyone usually doesn't get together and say "lets make this the standard" in any type of competition.

Tennis racquets... wood, laminated wood, aluminum, graphite, and now composite. Everyone on the tour plays with composite racquets, but it's not like they agreed on it. Over time, it was proven to be the best, and now it's all anyone uses.

When someone invents the perfectly-configurable cooker with customizable heat and smoke for $200, expect to see a lot of them showing up. Whatever's best, wins. :)

jbrink01
05-25-2011, 02:18 PM
I TOTALLY disagree with the opening statement to this thread. Yes, I cook on an FEC100. Yes, I've GC'd with it. I've also GC'd with a non insulated, no electonics Horizon offset. Pork is pork (RD), ribs are ribs (Sam's), good chicken isn't expensive, and CAB wins as often as Waygu. Period.

jbrink01
05-25-2011, 02:20 PM
[QUOTE=Funky D;1653035]There are a couple of different topics here...

10 years ago, these multi-thousand dollar cookers gave some teams a huge advantage. Now, with iQue, Stoker, and many other portable solutions, everyone has access to managed heat/smoke. That's just the way technology rolls. You don't see a lot of Nascar engines without fuel injection.
QUOTE]

ALL NASCAR Engines run carbs, FYI.

RangerJ
05-25-2011, 02:37 PM
I started with 2 ugly drums and walmart meat. Two walks in my first competition and I was hooked.

I own a Stoker, other than using it to measure meat temperature, I've never used in a competition as a draft control. Why? I'm afraid it will short circuit or something while I'm asleep and my temperature will either go out or go through the roof.

I pretty much use HEB beef currently but just got a RD membership so I will check that out. Will never pay for Waygu or whatever because I can't afford it. My current pit was purchased in hopes of "setting and forgetting" and because I've had some catering opportunities, so I needed more volume.

I think the playing field is pretty level, I watched some young 20 somethings drag some Weber Kettles and some Brinkman offesets off the back of their truck in Conroe. First competition and they got a call for brisket.

Behind me I had some guys with two expensive pits about 17 guru's and digique's that were all set for something at about 15 minute intervals. I watched them poke and prod and stay up all night measuring and taking notes. Fires got to hot they dumped coals and added wood. In the morning they had a guy show up who was actually measuring the boiling temperature of some sauce they were creating wanted it to be "318 degrees" I think I heard him say, when it got there they pulled it. It did not end up being a good cook for them.


Sometimes I know I overthink things or order a bottle of XXX sauce or YYY spice cuz I hear its hitting. But as long as I know my product is being judged by humans and there is no clear way to win without human judgement than I'll probably use whatever is legal.

See, those cars are not all finishing at the same time and no one ever deducted points because of that silly rainbow paint job Jeff Gordon had, or said that Jimmy Johnson's car was well a bit over heated ( read over cooked) or that the smoke coming out of Jrs. car left a bad taste in their mouth. Also, all the mechanics don't use the same tools to work on these cars.

Hub
05-26-2011, 07:18 AM
I've said it before: A good cook can do championship chow on a $49 K-Mart grill. There are lots of methods and gadgets and "hi tech" but nothing replaces the skills of a really good cook.

brog315
05-26-2011, 10:38 AM
I think the playing field is pretty level, I watched some young 20 somethings drag some Weber Kettles and some Brinkman offesets off the back of their truck in Conroe. First competition and they got a call for brisket.


Thank you for the shoutout! :) That would not have happened without the wealth of information on this site. We had a good time at competition and used the pits we had available. However, a good pit will go a long way to help with convenience, and I am anxiously awaiting the completion of our trailered rig.

Lake Dogs
05-26-2011, 11:02 AM
The winner of Memphis In May Ribs 2 weeks ago was Bubba Grills. He cooked everything on a simple reverse flow offset smoker. No GURU's, no set-it-and-forget-it, no pellets, etc. Simple; old school, using straight up hickory.

We do the same, only the smoker is a Lang. No magic. No sleep at night either, but to me that's part of the fun of it. Other than one KCBS outing where I did some silly stuff, we've never been out of the top 1/3rd in any category.

Go see a few competitions, and see who wins. Judge a few, perhaps compete in a few. Your opinion will change.

It absolutely IS the cook, not the smoker that wins. Frankly, from a judges perspective, if we were all using the same rub, the same meat, the same sauce (I try to NOT use sauce), the same wood, it would be terribly BORING.

So, from a competition cooks perspective, no, it wouldn't be much fun. And from a judges perspective, I'm not interested. No thanks.

DevineSwine
05-26-2011, 11:55 AM
I always like to compare apples to apples so to me i think that it takes away from someones cooking skill if they lose just cause they might have had a good flavor in comparison to someone else.

Rich Parker
05-26-2011, 12:38 PM
I always like to compare apples to apples so to me i think that it takes away from someones cooking skill if they lose just cause they might have had a good flavor in comparison to someone else.

I agree with always liking to compare apples to apples but that isn't competition bbq. Taste and in your statement flavor is very subjective and my opinion shouldn't be controlled. What is there to judge if we all turn in the same flavors? Tenderness is outlined in the CBJ class on what is proper so the only thing left is taste.

Lake Dogs
05-26-2011, 12:45 PM
Watch Iron Chef. Cooking skills all the way. These are barbecue contests; it's about the best barbecue on that day.

Still Smokin
05-26-2011, 12:49 PM
I added "Low Tech" to my team name...WSM, BDS & a Lowes direct heat charcoal grill for Chx & Ribs

I have walked in every event this year (5) except the one in my hometown

Bourbon Barrel BBQ
05-26-2011, 09:22 PM
To me a true competition would be having the meat purchased at the event and everyone using the same sauce and no one is allowed to use any flame gadgets. Now that would tell whose the best cook and not the best at making a sauce. This is purely for conversation and not intended to discredit anyone by any means.

If you were a judge at that competition you would never be able to tell anything apart. It would all be the exact same food. You wouldn't be able to tell the top 20 cooks apart. The only difference would be how its placed in the box.

Sawdustguy
05-26-2011, 10:16 PM
I added "Low Tech" to my team name...WSM, BDS & a Lowes direct heat charcoal grill for Chx & Ribs

I have walked in every event this year (5) except the one in my hometown

Nothing low tech about a weber smokey mountain. It's simply a great smoker that happens to cost less money.

Ford
05-26-2011, 10:54 PM
Makes me happy the truck now has FL plates instead of MI. Never cooked a contest and making statements about why competition needs to be changed. Of course he can probably be excused as he is from the east side.

DevineSwine
05-27-2011, 03:55 PM
Makes me happy the truck now has FL plates instead of MI. Never cooked a contest and making statements about why competition needs to be changed. Of course he can probably be excused as he is from the east side. I think ya need to back up just a we bit. If you think for one second iam suggesting that that a competition be changed your way off base. I asked a simple question as to why dont they do it this way and the reason for MY thinking. So please don't jump to conclusions and enjoy Florida. All this was intended for was to be a conversation as to how things are done.

landarc
05-27-2011, 07:29 PM
I think the development of rubs and sauce, if that is your choice, is a part of being a good cook. The development and convergence of ingredients, rub, sauce and technique is what defines flavor for any food. While all competitors may not choose to use a certain Wagyu brisket or Berkshire pork butt, they all tend to choose the same meat, that they can rely upon to perform in a specific manner. They all bring their own rubs and sauces, whether they are using commercial or home made, it is the ingredients they have chosen and developed together. Standardizing the elements takes away a large part of what makes each cooks BBQ unique. In fact, I do not consider BBQ competitions to be a measure of how well you transfer heat to a chunk of meat, it is a competition of how well, on a given day, a person or group of people can create food that tastes good and unique to their skill and judgement.

Brauma
05-27-2011, 08:27 PM
I heard there is a competition near here that is a "no electricity" event. No Treagers, no FEC's, no Guru's, no Stokers, etc... We have kicked around the thought of entering it. I think it's in PA.

bignburlyman
05-30-2011, 09:41 AM
A WSM or a UDS can be pretty dang close to set it and forget it in terms of temperature consistency. Very minimal vent adjustment required. The only thing the pit controllers really give you is a little more sleep.

As far as meat quality goes there are teams that would still cook choice grade brisket over Wagyu or prime even if they were the same price.

I had a co-worker that went to a beef producer meeting in Lubbock TX recently tell me that the beef experts there said there is no measurable difference between Prime grade brisket and No-roll grade. I don't know that I believe this to be true, but I was unable to find a link to a study to confirm this statement.

Rookie'48
05-30-2011, 11:57 AM
I always like to compare apples to apples so to me i think that it takes away from someones cooking skill if they lose just cause they might have had a good flavor in comparison to someone else.

Or we could do it like six year old girl's soccer --- Everyone gets a trophy!

(Please note that the above is meant to be sarcastic)