PDA

View Full Version : First competition tips needed


amv81
03-12-2012, 03:12 PM
I am thinking about doing my first competition in June at the Brickstreet BBQ in my hometown of Marietta Ohio. I have two Weber 22.5" kettles that I use as smokers and that is it. My first question is, have you seen any kettles in a competition? Its kind of embarrassing since everyone else seems to have trailer pits but I would really like to try it. And if you do suggest I try it, what tips would you give a newbie for their first competition ever.. timing.. washtubs.. anything? Thanks in advance.
Adam

indianagriller
03-12-2012, 03:31 PM
Go and cook it, i have seen teams win with a couple kettles and a UDS or WSM

Still Smokin
03-12-2012, 03:34 PM
I would highly recommend a practice run to get your timing down, and don't be afraid of having your meat done early, better done early than not done @ turn in time.

Make a checklist, the second comp I did, I forgot my sink and hoses.

Lake Dogs
03-12-2012, 03:36 PM
I've seen webers at a number of the KCBS style competitions. More often they're for chicken, but you can smoke other meats on them. IMHO you're going to be hurting for space. Absolutle minimum will be 1 brisket, 1 butt, 2 racks of ribs, and 8+- pieces of chicken, and that's if everything cooks and looks perfect. I usually cook 2 briskets, 3 butts, 3 or 4 racks of ribs, and 12 to 16 pieces of chicken.

amv81
03-12-2012, 03:41 PM
Can i enter the comp and do just ribs, brisket, and pork... no chicken?

HarleyGirl14226
03-12-2012, 04:39 PM
Before your first comp. do a complete trial run (or two, or three...) - making note of your times and temps along the way. You'll want to build that information into your timeline for turn-ins. When we did ours we even kept it to KCBS turn in times (noon to 1:30) to really get a feel for what we would be doing and when. During our first test cook we realized we would have missed the chicken turn in because of space issues - so that's when we got our 2nd one.

Also make note of everything you touch to do that cook to build your comp. checklist. We've now split ours up into two sep. lists - one for perishables and one for non-perishables (helps us pack stuff up ahead of time when we can).

As far as using WSM's - we use them with BBQ Guru's on ours. We cook chicken and ribs on them now - but could probably fit the pork or brisket on the chicken cooker if needed (though not ideal), provided they were done early enough to take off and sit and get happy in the cambro. We know we have space issues so we leave the pork and brisket to the MAK. You'll be able to make your decision on space once you do a test cook.

And yes - you can cook a contest doing 3, 2 or even only 1 category - just be aware that it's still the same entrance fee and you won't be in the running for RGC or GC overall points by skipping categories.

Good luck - maybe we'll run into you at one of the Ohio contests!

Todd Ras
03-12-2012, 05:03 PM
I remember asking the same questions a few years ago. Here are some tips fellow Brethern gave us that really helped:

1) Go to an event before you compete. Find a local team willing to have you come out on Friday and see the set up and layout. This helped us come up with a game plan before our first contest.

2) Practice run! I'm can't tell you how much this helped. We did a 2 day full practice and even did turn in boxes. This helps you determine when the food goes on and how much time between catagories. Also, this will help understand how much water, ice, soap and cleaning schedules.

3) Keep a sheet of times and check lists of things to bring. I know this sounds like a lto of work, but it helps you not forget anything and miss steps.

4) Drink and have agood time, but not toooo good of a time. I don't think I slept the first contest ad aboiut 12:00 on Saturday you really need the sleep. Hungover and out in the sun making turn in boxes isn't the way you want to go on your first one.

5) Be prepaired to be hooked. It seems like you can't just do one and stop. It's like a bug that makes you want to do a lot more!

6) Dont be scared of looking stupid. Most people are friendly and don't care what you're smoking on or what you have in your site.

7) Don't hesitate to ask questions just be nice while doing it.

8) Look at sample boxes and read this board as much as you can. The knowledge on this board is amazing.

Lastly, just have fun and you get out of it what you put in! If you want to just have fun, then have as much as you can. If you want to compete and really learn, read this board as there are much wiser men than me. Look at sample turn in boxes and methods and watch youtube vidoes of judges comments as sometimes you can see tips of what they look for (but who the hell really knows).

Good luck

Parts_Guy
03-12-2012, 05:39 PM
My dad and I did comps last year for the 1st time. I agree it can be intimidating when you pull in and most teams have trailers and all the toys. We cooked with 2 wsms. I agree with all the others, practice runs are the only way to go. We also had good friends that had been competing for a few years and were/are great mentors to us. I think every comp I still had to go to them and ask questions. I think the biggest thing to do is...Have Fun. You might/will make mistakes...learn from them and move on.

Stoke&Smoke
03-12-2012, 06:12 PM
I am thinking about doing my first competition in June at the Brickstreet BBQ in my hometown of Marietta Ohio. I have two Weber 22.5" kettles that I use as smokers and that is it. My first question is, have you seen any kettles in a competition? Its kind of embarrassing since everyone else seems to have trailer pits but I would really like to try it. And if you do suggest I try it, what tips would you give a newbie for their first competition ever.. timing.. washtubs.. anything? Thanks in advance.
Adam

You might want to look at one or 2 of these http://www.smoke-ez.com/index.php or look at a WSM or 2.

The other advice given here is good. If you know someone who will be competing in your area, ask if you can be a pit b--ch for them, you will learn lots, well, with some folks anyway

I think quite a few folks do chicken with kettles, but it's gonna be tricky to do brisket and butts on them

Can i enter the comp and do just ribs, brisket, and pork... no chicken?
some comps allow that, some don't

Ron_L
03-12-2012, 06:20 PM
Can i enter the comp and do just ribs, brisket, and pork... no chicken?

Most comps will allow you to pick and choose categories but chicken is such a short cook why not just do it? You're there already :) If you're worried about space time your big meats so that they are off of the cooker and resting in a cooler or Cambro well before you need to use a Kettle for ribs or chicken. The rest does the big meats good anyway.

As far as stuff there are a couple of good checklists around here or on the Smokin' Guns web site. At a minimum you'll want a couple of tables, an EZ-up type canopy or two, three wash tubs (dish washing tubs are OK, bus tubs from Sam's are better), a way to heat water, coolers, knives, rubs, sauces, etc.

Besides a full practice run at home the best advice I can give is to take advantage when the rep asks new teams to raise their hands at the cooks meeting and then asks for experienced teams to act as mentors. Don't be a pest, and don't try to steal secrets (called shigging), but ask questions and learn. It's a great opportunity.

early mornin' smokin'
03-12-2012, 06:31 PM
We cooked our first comp on a performer and a kettle and a barrel smoker. We graduated to a crappy offset that will never be brought to a comp again, and the same 2 kettles. Our kettles have grown, we got an egg. They're indispensable tools.

As far as your first comp goes, partner up, find a friend who likes to bbq and drink. Go there, cook your heart out, wander around and talk to every and anyone and learn.

Theres no wrong or right way to do a comp. I've seen teams cook on a xl bge and one kettle, thought their food was crap, throw it all out, only to win GC.

Do it once, and you'll be hooked, 4 years later and my team can't wait for the season to start every year. Friends and family will beg to come over for practice cooks. Experience and consistency will be your best friend.

NRA4Life
03-12-2012, 06:47 PM
1, Have fun
2. Meet some folks
3. Stick directly to your cooking timeline
4. Check out bbqcritic.com for presentation examples
5. Learn something each and every comp.
6. Have low expectations - like getting all your meat cooked and turned in on time and being happy you didn't come in last place.
7. Stop by my site and have a beer with me June 8th - I'll be there.

landarc
03-12-2012, 07:31 PM
If you can, find a third cooker. I was at a competition where there was a guy next to us trying to go with two kettles, it was madness. Three kettles, or even better, two kettles and a UDS will make your entire event a lot more enjoyable.

Other than that, you have plenty of great advice above. Remember that most competitions will ask that you have certain safety and health items that you must have. I have seen a couple of teams not able to cook due to that.

TooSaucedToPork
03-12-2012, 08:09 PM
If this is your first contest concentrate on having fun. Alot will go wrong. You stress out about it you will sour the experience. Great advice above...

Do your best...

I hope it is enough to place, honestly it probably won't be...I'm not being negative or hurtful. First time out getting everything in on time is a feat in and of itself. If you turn it in on time and pretty, kudos to you. You just did better than my first contest.

Shoot for not being DAL (Dead A$$ Last)

Talk to your fellow competitiors and soak up what they say like a sponge...and then adapt it to your personality and methods.

Let us know how it goes...

JS-TX
03-13-2012, 04:42 PM
I competed in my first comp. late last year. It was a lot of fun but a lot of work first time out. All great advice here. I would also say try to find a 3rd cooker, between now and June hopefully you can find one or build a UDS and get a couple practice cooks. Make sure you:

1. Pack way ahead of time, perhaps the weekend before. (At least have your stuff in boxes ready to go.)
2. Get there early if you can, so no rush to setup and get going.
3. Take a friend or family member to help, even if just to do little things.
4. Talk to people and make friends, quite easy to do, but if you are pressed for time it can be hard.
4. Try not to get overwhelmed, so many things going around you, while you are trying to think and prep, talking to people etc.. I know why people have enclosed trailers now.

Don't be worried about your setup, I took 2 kegs and a UDS to a comp. with primarily stick burners here in TX. Felt like I stood out like a sore thumb, but people were friendly and came by to check them out. I took the Friday off so I could finish packing but everything took twice as long to do and a borrowed cooler had a leak. I got stuck in rush hour traffic too and actually forgot to bring a da** chair to sit. Luckily for me my brother didn't live too far away and helped me out with chairs and breakfast too.

VA BBQ PIRATES
03-13-2012, 05:15 PM
Adam,

All good advice here. Check out more tips here:
http://www.bbq-pirates-va.com/bbqcompetitiontips.html

Good Luck!

Tom

amv81
03-13-2012, 07:23 PM
Thanks to everyone for all the great info, I will take any tips I can get, and I think I will pick up a third kettle.

kwas68
03-13-2012, 09:24 PM
I'm in the same boat AMV. I was pit bit*h with a great team and have leaned on them pretty regularly for advice as I practice competition cooking in preparation for my first comp in May. I have learned a lot. It is really nice to have somebody you can go to with specific questions.

I'll feel a lot more confident in my cooking because of the knowledge they've provided me and more comfortable as I'll be competing alongside some new friends.

amv81
03-15-2012, 12:07 PM
Just ordered a WSM 22.5, hopefully giive me what capacity i need with two kettles going too.

Dan - 3eyzbbq
03-15-2012, 12:30 PM
I am thinking about doing my first competition in June at the Brickstreet BBQ in my hometown of Marietta Ohio. I have two Weber 22.5" kettles that I use as smokers and that is it. My first question is, have you seen any kettles in a competition? Its kind of embarrassing since everyone else seems to have trailer pits but I would really like to try it. And if you do suggest I try it, what tips would you give a newbie for their first competition ever.. timing.. washtubs.. anything? Thanks in advance.
Adam

I'll be competing in Marietta. Set up close to me and I'll help you out with answering questions during the comp. Since its your hometown, pack everything worry about getting things trimmed down after your first comp.

slowerlowerbbq
03-15-2012, 01:27 PM
Just ordered a WSM 22.5, hopefully giive me what capacity i need with two kettles going too.

Trust me, you'll be glad you ordered this. Just get a few cooks on it before hand to get the pit seasoned a bit before the comp. You should be able to throw 2 butts and a brisket on there Friday night, then do the ribs on 1 kettle and chicken on the other Saturday morning...good to go.

Most of all, just go in with no expectations and make sure to have a good time. You WILL be hooked!

lbmksu
03-16-2012, 12:18 PM
I have seen many a team that does well with their kettles, and many a team that does poorly with their rigs. If you have a good method, stick with it and learn more on the long road ahead.

PeppermonkeyBBQ
03-17-2012, 08:20 AM
I'll be competing in Marietta. Set up close to me and I'll help you out with answering questions during the comp. Since its your hometown, pack everything worry about getting things trimmed down after your first comp.

You have Dan offering to help you out and you should truly take advantage of this opportunity! We have only done about ten comps, but will never forget our first. You've had great advice here so no need to repeat. I will stress that although it can be intimidating, let everyone know you are new and they'll most likely help you out. At our first comp we were lucky enough to set up next to DizzyPig and 3eyzbbq and we learned more then than we did in months of internet research.

You'll see how nice the 'competitors' are ... and you'll be hooked!

JM

Jetmek
03-17-2012, 01:49 PM
Thanks for this thread. I am new here and live in Columbus. I was thinking of entering one of the three KCBS events this year in Ohio. I am really excited now!

Ford
03-17-2012, 03:40 PM
Plan to pull the big stuff and hold in a cooler while cooking chicken.
But the real advice is be prepared did what comes next. Competition bbq is addicting. You'll end up spending your savings, the kids college fund and whatever. The good news is you'll think it's worth every penny.

Have fun. I don't regret it. The people you meet will become friends the memories last forever.

amv81
03-17-2012, 09:05 PM
Practicing chicken thighs and ribs on Sun. There seems to be a lot more work trimming chicken than I thought. It's nice to have everyone offer advice and be willing to help at the competition, hopefully there will be some pron to follow Sundays smoke,and if anyone has any questions about the comp in Marietta, as far as the town goes, I will be glad to help.

Adam

big brother smoke
03-17-2012, 09:15 PM
Have fun and know how you perform on alcohol if you drink. For instance, me no perform good on tekilya :rolleyes: :thumb:

Porky Joes
03-18-2012, 03:24 AM
I am going into my third year of competions and use 2 webers and my offset smoker. My last competition was my first KCBS but I only did the pork and ribs competition, the other comps were ribs and best dishes. This year I will be more full KCBS and still a few amateurs, but I hope to have my UDS completed as well. I will then bring the UDS, offset, and one weber.

roksmith
03-27-2012, 09:29 AM
Hey Adam,
If you think you will need some additional equipment, let me know. We have a couple spare 18in kettles and I have a 22in at home that I don't compete with. Could also hook you up with a little ECB type, or if you want to play with a bigger smoker, I can loan you my trailer mounted stick burner. I don't use it for comps any longer.

4uweque
03-27-2012, 10:29 AM
I would make sure to trim my meats at home, it's a lot easier to do in the comfort of your own home. That saved me tons of frustration.

didisea
03-27-2012, 04:20 PM
Also, if its a competition that includes garnish in you box, you can do up your boxes beforehad as well. Grab some 9x9 containers, put down some plastic wrap and build your "putting green" on top. Put a damp paper towel on top of the parsley and close the box and put in the refrig. The keep a suprisingly long time. Then when you get your "real" turn in boxes at the comp, carefully lift/slide the whole thing into the official turn in box. Spruce it up in the corners and the edges. Then after you put your meat in, take a digital picture of the box. LOOK at the picture. For some reason, I can spot uneven placement of meat, parsley poking up the side edges, etc. better looking at a picture. Plus you want to document your entries anyway. Clean up any sauce, badly trimed parsley, etc using a wet paper towel and really clean hands. Also have a pair of tweezers to pull out any thing small like hair, some dried brown parsley bits, etc. Also do not forget your bar code label or (however they are marking your box) before you turn it in.