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mr dirts bbq
02-03-2012, 12:14 PM
i gotta say, i was fully planning on competing this spring/summer in northeast, i went and signed up with KCBS and NEBS, printed out schedules and planned my weekends out. Been que'ing every weekend practicing, doing my homework, refining my skills etc. after seeing pics of bbq (appearance) and reading about what to do and not to do, what judges are looking for im a little discouraged and thinking maybe skipping this year. I will go to a few and see what i can learn and pick up from competitions, and seriously thinking of going to a BBQ school to see what i can learn before i jump in head first.
If anything else this forum has opened my eyes to how much thought and practice goes into comp bbq, and i feel if i went ahead and did some comps this year it wouldve been a waste of time and money, for this i thank all of you. I never expected to be the next pit master on TLC or win anything better than maybe 20th this year, but after a week of read these posts and seeing pron here, i think i should go back to practice more. Im pretty sure my que is good ( i was positive it was good before the brethren schooled me) but i know now there is definitely room for improvement. there was a thread i saw the other day about what not to turn in, and the pics of what not to turn in looked fine to me, but i guess the judges are looking for picture perfect. all my years in culinary arts school, winning 2 comps there and a scholorship to CIA in hyde park ny, cooking in the navy couldve never prepared me for what is expected in BBQ competitions. Im very glad that i signed up here and didnt start competing with any expectations of getting better than last place. ok rant over, lol thanks again to all of you!

lcbateman3
02-03-2012, 12:17 PM
I for one say jump in and do it. I waited for a while till I thought I was ready, and I wasn't. Yes I get disappointed at times, but then I really look at where I finished.

I have steady improved in each one. I always learn something new and the people in the circuit really do want you to do well and are helpful.

As for the judges, it all depends on what table you land on. I say go for it!

NRA4Life
02-03-2012, 12:26 PM
Do a couple comps this year to see what it is about. It isn't wasted money if you learn something. Then take a class to learn what you need to do to improve from this year.

boogiesnap
02-03-2012, 12:43 PM
the first few will always be "wasted money", no matter what year you start. the lessons learned in the field of battle are ones you can only learn there.

just jump in and have fun. see how you do. THEN you know what needs to be done to win.

AZScott
02-03-2012, 12:46 PM
Man, you have a very solid foundation to start comps with. SIGN UP! The only way you will be able to improve is to get out there. More practice at this point isn't going to do what 2 comps will do for your food. Get out there, share your food with other teams, and readjust.

Jaskew82
02-03-2012, 12:50 PM
PM Sent.

HeSmellsLikeSmoke
02-03-2012, 12:51 PM
Taking a judging class might be a good investment of time too.

Lake Dogs
02-03-2012, 12:52 PM
It sounds to me like you're the perfect candidate to take a KCBS judging class then go judge a competition or two. As much as pictures on the web help, there's nothing like experiencing it first-hand to see what comes across the tables. That picture has a smell and a taste. You'll see stuff that doesn't score well and you'll then know why, and you'll see barbecue that sets your eyes a-glow, and you'll know why.

Then, get in there. There's nothing quite like that first competition. It's like losing your virginity (really). You'll learn things you never knew that you didnt' know.

And, have fun.

Cack
02-03-2012, 12:52 PM
I haven't done any comps (yet), but from what I've heard from people that have. They all say you won't learn what judges want untill you do it. Plus, if you do what everyone else is doing then you'll have to beat them at their game. You could find a new trick, recipe, or technique that the judges haven't seen but may end up liking better.

I'm another year or two from competing (need money to buy a big enough pit to get started), but I plan on hitting the ground running once I get there.

mr dirts bbq
02-03-2012, 01:00 PM
thank you all for you all for your input, cack ill build you one cheap! lol

Harbormaster
02-03-2012, 01:30 PM
Hey Mr. Dirt -
Don't be afraid. I never thought I would be good enough to compete, and entered my first comp just to see how good my Q was. Went in with three goals: 1) Don't miss any turnins. 2) Don't get DQ'd on any entries. 3) No DALs. I did that and got two calls.
I didn't earn my money back, but I made some very good friends, and there is no way to put a dollar amount on that.
Like Lionel, I have gotten better with every comp, even winning brisket at a comp last year. No GC's or RGC's...yet...but it will happen someday.

Parruthead
02-03-2012, 01:42 PM
Hey Mr. Dirt -
Don't be afraid. I never thought I would be good enough to compete, and entered my first comp just to see how good my Q was. Went in with three goals: 1) Don't miss any turnins. 2) Don't get DQ'd on any entries. 3) No DALs. I did that and got two calls.
I didn't earn my money back, but I made some very good friends, and there is no way to put a dollar amount on that.
Like Lionel, I have gotten better with every comp, even winning brisket at a comp last year. No GC's or RGC's...yet...but it will happen someday.

What are DAL's ???


To the OP I am in the same boat a year ago there was this guy posting photos of his meat at another website i hang out at he referred me here and 1 year and 11 cookers later, I'm in your boat I wanna try comp cooking but I don't wanna fail..

I have signed up for a local KCBS judging class it runs 85 or 90 bucks and then you'll be a member of the KCBS. I figured it would atleast give me a place to start.

Come on jump in feet first.. My motto is.. GO BIG OR GO HOME...and

GOOD LUCK!

lcbateman3
02-03-2012, 01:48 PM
To the OP I am in the same boat a year ago there was this guy posting photos of his meat at another website i hang out at he referred me here and 1 year and 11 cookers later, I'm in your boat I wanna try comp cooking but I don't wanna fail..


"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed." Theodore Roosevelt

I received my first DAL in a category last year (DAL=Dead Ass Last). Yea it sucked. But I knew what happened, and I learned from it.

Last year was the first year I got any calls. Got a call in brisket, pork and ribs. You live and learn. You will never get better until you jump out there and get where your feet wet.

I was lucky last year, we had Dizzy Pig set up beside us at Hogfest. He tasted ours and told us what we needed to improve on. We tasted his. He won RGC.

We haven't made a RGC or GC yet, but we hope to soon. I am doing a complete practice tonight. Trying out a few new things I have learned over the off season to see how I like it.

Biggest thing I was told by a few different teams: Don't change anything for a few comps, because it could just be the table you landed on. When you do change don't do wholesale changes. Change small and go from there. Sometimes its just a small tweak you need.

Terry The Toad
02-03-2012, 03:53 PM
Taking a judging class might be a good investment of time too.

What he said.

A professional cooking class can run you into the hundreds of dollars. I took a judging class with the FL BBQ Association for $60 (or thereabouts.) You learn a whole lot about what the judges like!

fnbish
02-03-2012, 04:25 PM
I jumped in last year after reading tons on this forum and getting info anywhere else I could grab it. It does seem overwhelming in terms of what information is out there. There isn't much better experience and learning than jumping in and just doing it. I cannot begin to define what you personally consider a "waste of time and money", but just jumping in was worth every single penny to me. Granted if you are going full bore with expensive cookers, buying the priciest meats and going full pro at each event then yes it can be "expensive" (but I would need to know what you define as expensive as well).

I guess if you are expecting fame and fortune initially and anything less is a failure you may never take the jump. I still want to take a cooking class as well, but we did pretty good last year with some calls and all we learned from was on this forum and talking with all the great teams out there. I also became a KCBS judge and judged last year and plan on judging more this year. I learned a bunch in the class and even more from actually judging and seeing/tasting what other teams are doing. The class is like $75, but then the eating after is FREE! From my tiny semi-rookie (2012 being my 2nd year) knowledge it seems there many ways to win/do well at competitions. So I say sign up and get out there. You do know these things are an ungodly amount of fun too right :becky:?

Sledneck
02-03-2012, 04:33 PM
If I were you I would take a Competition class. class . Why drop $800 on a contest a few times trial and error when you shorten the learning curve greatly

JimmyDAL
02-03-2012, 04:38 PM
Nobody knows more about DAL than "JimmyDAL"!

Red Valley BBQ
02-03-2012, 04:43 PM
My recommendation would be take a judging class first. It will prepare you as to what exactly the judges are expecting, especially when it come to tenderness. It helps to shorten the learning curve. Save your money on a cooking class until you've done a comp or two. Nothing screams "waste of money" like spend a large chunk of cash on a cooking class only to learn you don't like staying up all night tending to a fire in a cold driving rain.

I took a judging class and judged a comp the next day. The following year I jumped into competition with both feet and haven't looked back since. No matter how bad I have had my rear handed to me at times, I don't regret the experiences I've had or the friends I've made in the process. Whether judging or cooking, being involved with competition BBQ is the best decision I've ever made. BBQ folk are amazing people and ALWAYS willing to lend a hend or give an opinion, even if it's an opinion you may not want to hear.

Get in the ring...you'll enjoy every minute of it.

SHBBQ
02-03-2012, 04:47 PM
Jump right in, the water is fine!!!! NEBS runs "Tailgate" events too if you wanna try them first. entry fees are alot cheaper and you just cook wings and ribs. You may wanna cut your teeth there first before going all out if you are apprehensive. def do the judging class too! well worth the money!

TooSaucedToPork
02-03-2012, 05:50 PM
Talk to some of the Brethren that will be at a contest near you
See if you can be their pit monkey for the weekend
See if you like BBQ Competitions before jumping in
If you like it:
Take a judging class so that you can
Judge on Saturday at KCBS contest to learn your profiles AND...
Do some NEBS backyard events on Sunday to refine and test your recipes

then take a cooking class or jump in with KCBS cooking

That's my advice...whatever you do, DON'T GIVE UP

jbrink01
02-03-2012, 07:42 PM
I did not take a class until last year, and wish I had taken one early on. We got a 4th place call in our first contest, but it was dumb luck. We GC'd our 7th contest, all with no class :rolleyes:. BUT, we could not have done it without all the guys on here!

Judge before you cook, cook 5 or 6, then take a class. IMHO.

HarleyEarl
02-03-2012, 08:09 PM
A lot of good advice so far.

But in my opinion, jump right in and do a contest or two so you can get the feel of the comps, then take a judging class, do another comp or two, and then take a cooking class. If take a cooking class too soon, before you get the feel for competing, you'll miss a ton of information - heck you'll still miss a lot of information.

Competing isn't rocket science, consistently doing well is. I barely had any idea of how to smoke meat before entering my first contest and did not have the benefit of the Brethren site and all the great information - we fared okay. Up until last year, we were improving each year (last year was a let-down with way too many distractions) to the point where we got at least one call at each contest. It took a few years and a couple classes to get to that point, but it takes dedication. Also, don't feel like you need to have all the "toys" you see many teams have with to start competing, just start small and work up. I'm on my forth BBQ trailer now, each one better than the last, and working on the third interior renovation to get it where I want it.

Bottom line - jump in & get your feet wet - have fun & good smokin' luck.

Smokin' Hicks
02-03-2012, 10:17 PM
my 2 cents for what its worth.....dive in head first brother...that is the best way to learn, really the only true way to learn and, besides it is about doing your best in a comp but it is also a freakin' blast to do them win or lose....i am right there with you on the culinary school, i am a executive chef at a private club in the midwest and been in the food bizz for 25+ years and you will be very very surprised how much your culinary back round will help you out during comps...you don't even know what you do know about comp bbq cooking till you just go do one and have a good time

DMSinTexas
02-03-2012, 11:02 PM
Take your money and invest it where you can learn the most. You will learn about ABC in a trial by fire in a competition. You will learn about XYZ in a class. You need to learn both. It is only a waste of money if you don't learn. More important...go out there and learn. Money is just paper. Time is limited.

txschutte
02-03-2012, 11:09 PM
Really? Wasted money? If you really pay attention here and refine things as you move from comp to comp, you could do really well in your first comps.

Classes will help you if they outline where you are lacking. My category was chicken. After being a CBJ this year, and figuring out what I was supposed to becooking, I feel much better about my chances this year.

zombie barbecue2
02-03-2012, 11:14 PM
I would say to at least do a comp or two. We did that and learned a lot from other teams while we were there.(Thanks, Philly Blind Pig and BBQ Guru). If you have the budget do a couple and maybe take either a judging class and or a cooking class like so many others have advised. I think getting in to a comp will give you a lesson on staying up overnight, drinking and hanging out, if you are into that, and just getting into the scene. It is very addictive. I am hooked.

Dale P
02-04-2012, 05:15 AM
Jump right in. All you have to do is make it look better, taste better, and be perfectly tender, and you win!

hogzgonewild
02-04-2012, 09:27 AM
OP, I was in the same boat as you last year, I read everything I could about it, went to one competition to see how things were setup, practiced a bunch of boxes, and then we entered two backyard contests last year scared to death of getting last and ended up with a grand championship and 6th overall. You'll never know how good or bad you ate until you jump in for yourself and try it out! Believe me even if we got DAL, we still had more fun than anything else we could be doing.

Mike - CSBBBQ
02-04-2012, 10:19 AM
AS normal lots of good advice from the Brethren :clap2: Agree with most and will toss in my thoughts. The information on this site is fantastic, search and continue to learn. Find a comp with a small entry fee and enter consider as part of the learning process! Take a judging class AND take a cooking class both are great education tools. This is a fantastic hobby/addiction :grin: Good Luck whatever you decide!

Stoke&Smoke
02-04-2012, 10:22 AM
It sounds to me like you're the perfect candidate to take a KCBS judging class then go judge a competition or two. As much as pictures on the web help, there's nothing like experiencing it first-hand to see what comes across the tables. That picture has a smell and a taste. You'll see stuff that doesn't score well and you'll then know why, and you'll see barbecue that sets your eyes a-glow, and you'll know why.

Then, get in there. There's nothing quite like that first competition. It's like losing your virginity (really). You'll learn things you never knew that you didnt' know.

And, have fun.

Maybe it's because that's what we did, but I agree. And as judges, there were a few teams that would welcome us and talk openly after judging was over. Those teams became, directly or indirectly, mentors for us. You could just "jump right in" as folks say, but spending time around teams, and seeing more than just the frantic hours before turn in is valuable also. And you'll also find that some of the best looking food sometimes tastes awful, and some that may not look so great may surprise you.

I haven't done any comps (yet), but from what I've heard from people that have. They all say you won't learn what judges want untill you do it. Plus, if you do what everyone else is doing then you'll have to beat them at their game. You could find a new trick, recipe, or technique that the judges haven't seen but may end up liking better.

I'm another year or two from competing (need money to buy a big enough pit to get started), but I plan on hitting the ground running once I get there.

Not sure what you mean by a big enough pit Cack. You don't need a lot for a comp. We compete with a 22" WSM and an 18, plus another 18" kettle mostly used for our lunch and dinner, and some last second browning. I've seen teams do comps with less than that.

I think the biggest benefit from judging first is getting a realistic comparison of your skills vs what's out there. We've seen a number of first time teams come out of the gate with huge attitude, because "all my neighbors say I make the best _________ they've ever hears" and be heartbroken that they don't score well. It's good to know ahead of time what you're competing against.

.

Disconnect
02-04-2012, 12:38 PM
I haven't read most of the other responses, but (as another brand new team) my advice would be to do both. Visit local competitions, talk to the friendlier teams, see how it works and get a feel for the operation. (Also, watch the first season of the TLC show :) ..) Then practice, practice, practice. And towards the end of the season just jump in, find a small local competition and hit it. You might be surprised.

That is pretty much what we did last year, although our "small local competition" ended up being almost 50% heavy hitters. O_O We learned a LOT that we weren't going to get from practice, or from classes. (Things like "put your temperatures on a board where the whole team can see them so that tired people don't turn your pits up overnight"..)

This year we are much better prepared, solely because we hit that competition. (And we didn't come in anywhere near DAL! Somewhat a miracle given the number of mistakes we made..) its like driving - you can spend months in class, but until you actually sit behind the wheel you don't know what its really like..

PS: Visiting competitions will show you everything from huge trailer pits to 2-3 18" WSMs. At least the comps we've hit so far, the majority of the teams cook on weber backyard gear. (We take an 18" WSM, a home-built UDS and a 21" weber performer which - as Stoke&Smoke said - mostly handles lunch..) Talking to teams about their gear will also help you get an idea what you need.

BC Squared
02-04-2012, 02:01 PM
Waste of money?? If you are getting into this to make money, find something else to do! If you want to have a great time doing something you love, while meeting some awesome people (and some not so great!! Lol), then it will never be a waste of money...win or lose!

CBQ
02-04-2012, 11:20 PM
Waste of money?? If you are getting into this to make money, find something else to do! If you want to have a great time doing something you love, while meeting some awesome people (and some not so great!! Lol), then it will never be a waste of money...win or lose!

That's right!

You aren't going to learn to be successful at competition bbq without jumping in and trying it. There is a learned curve, but you will have a lot of fun and meet some great people while you learn. Don't be intimidated over all the debating over small details you see here. Jump in, try it, and you may be surprised at what you know.

bmanMA
02-05-2012, 09:33 AM
Consider it a weekend of camping out and cooking with family and friends. Maybe you'll even hear your name called. Do a test run to get a feel for timing, and then just go for it.

mr dirts bbq
02-05-2012, 01:54 PM
Waste of money?? If you are getting into this to make money, find something else to do! If you want to have a great time doing something you love, while meeting some awesome people (and some not so great!! Lol), then it will never be a waste of money...win or lose!


I think you miss understood me, or maybe i mis-spoke, im not in it for the money im in it because i whole-heartedly enjoy bbq! im in it for the experience and to meet new people. i enjoy cooking every weekend. when i say waste of money, i meant just the repeated slap in the face of DAL, lol
and to everyone here thank you for all of your responses im going to take a judges class and do a few comps this year, but the first couple i will just attend to get a feel for it

Candy Sue
02-05-2012, 08:28 PM
I would say to at least do a comp or two. We did that and learned a lot from other teams while we were there.(Thanks, Philly Blind Pig and BBQ Guru). If you have the budget do a couple and maybe take either a judging class and or a cooking class like so many others have advised. I think getting in to a comp will give you a lesson on staying up overnight, drinking and hanging out, if you are into that, and just getting into the scene. It is very addictive. I am hooked.

Amen! After last weekend cooking next to Philly Blind Pig, I feel like I owe him something just listening to him talk to folks! A true ambassador of BBQ, for sure. Took the time to visit and answer question right in the midst of turn in times.

Hobbies cost money and for most of us, BBQ comps are a hobby. I enjoy the travel but mostly enjoy the comradery of the people who are just as hooked as I am.

Best thing you could do is a couple of practice cooks with what you have, take lots of notes on times, temps and tastes. Then go try one for real.

Good Luck, Mr. Dirt!

BigBellyBBQ
02-06-2012, 06:53 AM
jump in ...the water is warm! Pick out a comp and just set up near one of us, we will help...as tomorow never comes...but should go to a judging class, it really helps..then practice..practice...your neibors will luv you!

tekjr1
02-06-2012, 11:09 AM
I was in your shoes as well. Not sure what I wanted until I took the JOS cooking class. I can't say enough good things about it. Myron teaches you how to compete. My first competition after his class and I finished 4th overall and a 3rd in ribs. Jump in there and you will be hooked. Get ready, it's addictive.

JD McGee
02-06-2012, 04:29 PM
Good idea to hang out a for a comp or two before jumping in...hopefully with a local team that's been around the block few times...:-D Good luck...but most importantly...have fun! :thumb: