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Outnumbered
04-24-2012, 10:59 PM
Just took my CBJ certification class tonight and wanted to weigh in on what I observed and what I thought. Keep in mind that much of this is my opinion, but I will try to be objective in my observations.

Overall impressions:
About 30 people in the class and about half were cooks who were more there to learn about what goes into judging, rather than judging themselves. It did indeed meet that criteria, IMO, and it shows how different things can be from the judges seat...though I'm sure it's even more of a contrast when you're actually judging a real contest.

The education:
These classes take a lot of work for the organizers and the teachers, and I truly appreciate the work that, by my guess, about 15 volunteer cooks and mock table captains put into the event. I have to say Bunny Tuttle did a great job of explaining (and repeating often) the work that teams put into a contest. Not sure it took with everyone, but she did a very good job of trying to ensure the judges can pick up on that.

That said, some of the cooks in the class were probably the harshest of the judges on their scoring. And when asked about why people scored that way, it was typically along the lines of I just didn't like it. I even found myself saying that a few times and had to keep reminding myself the fact that you have to have a good reason why you didn't like it, but it's hard, particularly on appearance. Some of it I just didn't like, but that constant reminder of having a reason is good to keep in mind. I hope judges actually do that when they're judging.

The annoyances
When you see some scores from judges who you swear don't know what they're doing, you're probably right. We had one guy who asked on a pictures of ribs if those were spares or baby backs. If you're going to judge a contest and decide who should win, you should know that.

Then someone asked what a smokering is. Again, c'mon, man!!!! As Bunny said more than once, make sure you're there to help out. "If you're just there to eat, go to Denny's."

The Reps
I guess I knew this, but I didn't really realize to what extent, how much the KCBS reps are there to help out the cooks. Most of them are cooks, too, and they want to make sure things are judged fairly. For example, she said if the table scores 8s and 9s in a category, but one judge scores a 3, she'll go to that judge and tell them they better have a good reason for giving that score.

Judging Differences
In my case, what I like is way different than what a 75 year old woman will typically like. You gotta find that balance between spicy and bland. On our pork butt, I got a pulled sample and a sliced sample. I liked the pulled sample that was injected, I believe. The sliced sample was not, but had great texture and a wonderful flavor that tasted like real pork. The injected sample didn't IMO. However, nearly everyone went for the pulled sample saying that the sliced sample was too bland. That 75 year old woman thought that sliced was too fat. Maybe her piece was, but if you know BBQ, you're going to get some fat on a pork butt slice.

Anyway, those are my thoughts and opinions on it. I could probably go on and on about the individual categories, and if you want that I'll do that, but suffice it to say that this judging thing is as subjective as you probably believe it to be.

BBQ Grail
04-24-2012, 11:02 PM
:pop2: This is gonna be good...

Maddog's
04-24-2012, 11:25 PM
Oh, brother, how right on! Chatting with other judges about the meats, it never ceases to amaze me how freakin' little they know. In all fairness, I have the good fortune of competing in my home association, the PNWBA where the judges are, for the most part, highly skilled, knowledgeable and INTO what they are doing. A few show up for the grub but for the most part, they can teach cooks a thing or two but man-o-man, I am blown away by some comments from judges. I'm not culinary expert but some of them are not even rookies. I know we try to fill the tables but dude, when Judge X blows it at more than one event, invite 'em to find another hobby. Why? Because they are screwin' up OURS!

Crash
04-25-2012, 06:44 AM
Judges are judges. Some good, some bad, some clueless, some awesome, some helpful, some terrible and again.... some clueless.

I know we all appreciate what the judges provide. Good is good, bad is bad.... and they do get it right most of the time. Hell, look at the top tier teams and how they stay consistently ahead of other teams.

My favorite comment (actually, least favorite) is a judge that scores down for "green crap" in a KCBS box. Yes...he actually said that, meant it and stuck by it. IMO, that just hurts teams competing in KCBS.

This is not a new topic, but a solid one. With the 2012 year getting into full swing, the new teams need to be informed as do the new judges.

I'm interested to hear more input on this thread from judges and cooks alike.

As always...IMO.

ModelMaker
04-25-2012, 06:51 AM
Oh, brother, how right on! Chatting with other judges about the meats, it never ceases to amaze me how freakin' little they know. In all fairness, I have the good fortune of competing in my home association, the PNWBA where the judges are, for the most part, highly skilled, knowledgeable and INTO what they are doing. A few show up for the grub but for the most part, they can teach cooks a thing or two but man-o-man, I am blown away by some comments from judges. I'm not culinary expert but some of them are not even rookies. I know we try to fill the tables but dude, when Judge X blows it at more than one event, invite 'em to find another hobby. Why? Because they are screwin' up OURS!

Wow, perhaps a bit harsh here! Remeber most of these new judges are just that, new judges. Did your first cook come out perfect? Does every one of your 4 catagories come out perfect at every event?
I was a new judge in '06, I had limited knowledge of competition BBQ but it looked interesting to me, so I pursued it. I took the class and looking back pry sucked at my first couple contests. Thats why they seperate newbies.
Since then I have acheived my masters staus as a judge and started a cook team that has walked in every contest we entered (both of em)
So forgive the newbie they won't be new long.
Ed

Lake Dogs
04-25-2012, 07:11 AM
Just took my CBJ certification class tonight and wanted to weigh in on what I observed and what I thought. Keep in mind that much of this is my opinion, but I will try to be objective in my observations.

Overall impressions:
About 30 people in the class and about half were cooks who were more there to learn about what goes into judging, rather than judging themselves. It did indeed meet that criteria, IMO, and it shows how different things can be from the judges seat...though I'm sure it's even more of a contrast when you're actually judging a real contest.

The education:
These classes take a lot of work for the organizers and the teachers, and I truly appreciate the work that, by my guess, about 15 volunteer cooks and mock table captains put into the event. I have to say Bunny Tuttle did a great job of explaining (and repeating often) the work that teams put into a contest. Not sure it took with everyone, but she did a very good job of trying to ensure the judges can pick up on that.

That said, some of the cooks in the class were probably the harshest of the judges on their scoring. And when asked about why people scored that way, it was typically along the lines of I just didn't like it. I even found myself saying that a few times and had to keep reminding myself the fact that you have to have a good reason why you didn't like it, but it's hard, particularly on appearance. Some of it I just didn't like, but that constant reminder of having a reason is good to keep in mind. I hope judges actually do that when they're judging.

The annoyances
When you see some scores from judges who you swear don't know what they're doing, you're probably right. We had one guy who asked on a pictures of ribs if those were spares or baby backs. If you're going to judge a contest and decide who should win, you should know that.

Then someone asked what a smokering is. Again, c'mon, man!!!! As Bunny said more than once, make sure you're there to help out. "If you're just there to eat, go to Denny's."

The Reps
I guess I knew this, but I didn't really realize to what extent, how much the KCBS reps are there to help out the cooks. Most of them are cooks, too, and they want to make sure things are judged fairly. For example, she said if the table scores 8s and 9s in a category, but one judge scores a 3, she'll go to that judge and tell them they better have a good reason for giving that score.

Judging Differences
In my case, what I like is way different than what a 75 year old woman will typically like. You gotta find that balance between spicy and bland. On our pork butt, I got a pulled sample and a sliced sample. I liked the pulled sample that was injected, I believe. The sliced sample was not, but had great texture and a wonderful flavor that tasted like real pork. The injected sample didn't IMO. However, nearly everyone went for the pulled sample saying that the sliced sample was too bland. That 75 year old woman thought that sliced was too fat. Maybe her piece was, but if you know BBQ, you're going to get some fat on a pork butt slice.

Anyway, those are my thoughts and opinions on it. I could probably go on and on about the individual categories, and if you want that I'll do that, but suffice it to say that this judging thing is as subjective as you probably believe it to be.

Absolutely right on! For these reasons (mentioned many times above) is why there is judges training and certification, and why you REALLY want to focus on competing in competitions with as high as percentage of CBJ's as possible. Otherwise judging gets very willy-nilly.

As you said, people are people. Some like pork fat; others find it disgusting. Some like a little meat with their salt, others are very sensitive to salt and largely hate it. And on, and on, and on... It's VERY subjective, because frankly beauty is in the eye of the beholder (and I'm not talking about just appearance here either).

I've heard it said that the least subjective is appearance. I tend to disagree. What is appetizing to me might not appear appetizing to you, and visa versa. I tend to like chicken that looks like it might be chicken. I know a lady judge who LOVES to see little red things that to me look like Christmas ornaments and frankly to me dont trigger that "must eat me right now" response. Apparently it does for her. That's not right, nor is it wrong, we're just different.

However, yes, early on the toughest CBJ's are cooks IMHO because they want everything to look and taste like their BBQ. That changes and they tend to mellow after a while, and frankly they pick up a trick or two along the way.

Your note of 50% are cook teams has been my experience as well. Many people find it hard to understand/know what the target is that they're trying to hit without sitting behind a judges table a few times...

fnbish
04-25-2012, 07:47 AM
I took the judging class last year and had a very very very similar experience. Being a rookie cook I wanted to learn more, but I also want to judge when I can't compete. I think one of the hardest things to teach is not only what good bbq should look and taste like (since that is subjective), but to also teach that just because it isn't your favorite that it can still be awesome bbq. So understanding different flavors and how they too can taste great. Like trying a new countries cuisine for the first time, you may not like it right away, but after going to many different places understanding the tastes/flavors that go into making that food great and how they can differ from cook to cook and still be excellent in their own right.

I definitely agree on how scary it was to see people ask questions such as what do baby back ribs look like. But at least they are asking and hopefully they learn quickly. The reps very much stressed the effort that goes into getting the food to the judges and the amount of time/money that goes into it. Like you mentioned some seem to get that point, but still many people I talked to were simply excited to eat free bbq :razz:.

I know to become a master judge you have to spend a competition with a team, but I really wish all judges to become certified had to spend the full 2 days including everything that goes into it like lack of sleep :becky:, prepping all the meat, all the steps that go into turning in that box. I know that won't happen, but a guy can dream.

Bunny
04-25-2012, 07:58 AM
I appreciate very much the comments made on the class. To take the time to write down your thoughts helps me in future classes. When teaching, you hope and pray that some of the lessons are actually put into practice.

The guy who asked if those were baby backs or spares is one reason I tell judges to get to know their butchers well and know the rules.

Thanks again for the comments and taking the time to take the class!

Bunny Tuttle

Shotgun
04-25-2012, 01:27 PM
I appreciate very much the comments made on the class. To take the time to write down your thoughts helps me in future classes. When teaching, you hope and pray that some of the lessons are actually put into practice.

The guy who asked if those were baby backs or spares is one reason I tell judges to get to know their butchers well and know the rules.

Thanks again for the comments and taking the time to take the class!

Bunny Tuttle

I guess I dont follow the spares and baby back thing. Yes, it would be nice if the judge knew the difference but as long as its a pork rib whats the difference? Are judges scoring on the cut of meat if so, I need to make some adjustments.

fingerlickin'
04-25-2012, 02:44 PM
I wonder if they made Warren Sapp take a CBJ class before they let him judge pitmasters? I am aware he's not going to be on this years show. I would just be curious to know. Even Art for that matter.

Bunny
04-25-2012, 04:14 PM
I guess I dont follow the spares and baby back thing. Yes, it would be nice if the judge knew the difference but as long as its a pork rib whats the difference? Are judges scoring on the cut of meat if so, I need to make some adjustments.

I didn't mean anything by it. I just think that the more you know, the better judge you are.

kenthanson
04-25-2012, 04:30 PM
But sometimes the more you know the worse you will be. You will have pre-conceived notions as to what BBQ is supposed to and not be receptive to new flavor profiles or finishes.

The_Kapn
04-25-2012, 04:47 PM
I had an interesting conversation recently.
One of us "swore" that all judges should be "certified" judges.
The other felt that it did not matter.

When asked: "what did you learn about judging BBQ in the class", the answer was:
1. What garnish was legal.
2. How many servings were required.
3. What were the legal cuts or types of meat.
4. What was the scoring range and increments.
5. How to fill out the scoring card.
6. Don't eat everything presented or you will get too full.
7. Don't discuss anything until the cards are turned in.

When asked: "What did you learn about the taste or texture or great BBQ", he stated that it was up to him to decide what was good or what was tender.

The other person responded that if a Rep or Table Captain knew about and enforced items 1, 2, and 3 and made those determinations, items 4, 5, 6, and 7 could be trained in 30 minutes or so.

Interesting discussion, or at least I thought so.

TIM

Lake Dogs
04-25-2012, 05:11 PM
Tim, mind you I'm not KCBS certified, but in the other sanctioning bodies that I am the classes not only covered tenderness in debth and how to push meat in the roof of your mouth, squeeze in your fingers, pull cleanly from the bone, etc. they also pretty much stress this at every contest in the judges meeting too. Taste is of course subjective...

Outnumbered
04-25-2012, 07:22 PM
Tim, mind you I'm not KCBS certified, but in the other sanctioning bodies that I am the classes not only covered tenderness in debth and how to push meat in the roof of your mouth, squeeze in your fingers, pull cleanly from the bone, etc. they also pretty much stress this at every contest in the judges meeting too. Taste is of course subjective...

Bunny covered these quite well in the class, too. I just don't believe it took with some people.

FYI, Bunny, I was the guy who walked in late. :) I broke one of your main rules in my class by not being on time. Thanks for passing me anyway!

Bunny
04-26-2012, 10:32 PM
Bunny covered these quite well in the class, too. I just don't believe it took with some people.

FYI, Bunny, I was the guy who walked in late. :) I broke one of your main rules in my class by not being on time. Thanks for passing me anyway!

LOL. You weren't that late and You are Welcome! :grin:

FashionBiff
04-26-2012, 11:38 PM
I appreciate your and others take of the class. I am hoping to attend my class next month.

drbbq
04-27-2012, 01:19 AM
Thanks for passing me anyway!

I know you are kidding and I'm sure not blaming Bunny. I think she's one of the best! But over 60,000 people have taken the CBJ class and to my knowledge they have all passed. So when we see 100% CBJs does it really mean anything? Do you believe that everyone from your class is now a good BBQ judge? I took the class many years ago and everyone in my class passed too. And as long as they've kept their membership up they are all still CBJs even if they've never judged or cooked or even attended a cook off. But I don't think they'd all be good judges today.

Now understand that I think the CBJ program has been great for KCBS and BBQ in general but I don't think cooks should expect great judging just because there is a lot of CBJs.

bbq.tom
04-27-2012, 08:27 AM
Now understand that I think the CBJ program has been great for KCBS and BBQ in general but I don't think cooks should expect great judging just because there is a lot of CBJs.

AND I don't think CBJs should expect great entries to judge just because there are a lot of cooking teams.

Everything is relative, and I do agree that there should definitely be a continuing education program for judges. What KCBS has initiated is a start - providing judges actually take the time and effort to log onto the KCBS site and take the test - over and over as the questions do change; however, until there is a mandatory CE program there will be some judges that just exist without much interest (or experience).

I firmly believe that the CBJ class is a good START, but that "good" CBJs are the ones that truly try to increase their knowledge in ALL aspects of the barbecue experience, and who strive to do the best job they can at judging through understanding more than just what they learned in CBJ training. Experience gained through judging MANY competitions and sharing their scores and observations with other judges at their table - AND listening to what the other judges opinions are of the same entries, is invaluable in my opinion. Cooking with a team on numerous occasions is also extremely beneficial.

The CBJ who only takes the class just to say that they are a CBJ but never judge a competition is worthless as a judge in my opinion.

Just my $0.02.

Outnumbered
04-27-2012, 06:10 PM
And as long as they've kept their membership up they are all still CBJs even if they've never judged or cooked or even attended a cook off. But I don't think they'd all be good judges today.

Now understand that I think the CBJ program has been great for KCBS and BBQ in general but I don't think cooks should expect great judging just because there is a lot of CBJs.


Ray: You're absolutely correct and why I made the comments about the questions of what a smoke ring is, etc. If you don't know BBQ, you're not going to be good at this. And the comments on the cooks (including myself there) that are probably unfairly tough on the samples. (Cause no matter how good it is, we can always do better. Right?) It's also why I really liked the fact that Bunny was very clear to the judges in explaining the amount of work that goes into these contests.

Just remember this quote:

You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think--Dorothy Parker

No matter how many times people take a test, it doesn't guarantee you are going to be good at it.

drbbq
04-28-2012, 12:17 AM
I'm also not a fan of telling judges how hard we work and how much we spend. What does that have to do with the quality of my entry?
Falsely high scores are a big part of the problem but nobody wants to hear that. We have a 9 point system but any judge who dares use anything more that 9876 is chastised immediately and he better not use too many 6s. So we really have a or 4 point system and I don't have to be a math genius to know that using the whole scale would be a better idea..

4uweque
04-28-2012, 01:10 PM
I'm just glad there are some sort of standards to judge by, it's so much better than getting the guy parking cars to come be a judge. That still happens so be thankful for the ones that at least try to learn what to look for.

Lake Dogs
04-28-2012, 02:20 PM
^^^ +! While we'd all love 100% judges who REALLY know barbecue, the truth is that 99.9% of the populous have no clue. Training, certification if you will, is really necessary. Thanks Bunny for all you do.

Like most of this discussion, there are 2 sides to every coin. Ray, I agree about explaining the money and effort required. Any real competitor doesn't want to be glad-handed 9's by the newby judge who's just darned glad to be here. I cant speak for everyone behind a smoker, but I always wanted to be judged honestly and critically. However, for every judge that's just darned glad to be here, there's another judge, even new ones, who come in with the "make my day" attitude with no clue (and certainly no appreciation) as to the efforts that went into the product that came across the table that day... I think they (the 2nd judge in my example) could really stand to have some comprehension of what goes into it. So, on those days when all 5 entries coming across the table aren't the best he's ever had, at least he knows that there were 5 groups of people busting their butts to present the best they could on that day and that they have a vested stake in it.

Either way, it shouldn't prevent a true 4 scoring entry from getting the 3's, 4's, and 5's... Again, hopefully that seasoned judge will not only know the difference (between an 8 entry and a 4 entry) but will also not be afraid to score a 4 and explain why.

Bunny
04-30-2012, 11:44 AM
What makes you a great barbecue judge, Ray, is because of your knowledge. I'd rather you judge my rib than someone newer to the game. I'd be honored to receive a high score from you.