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View Full Version : questions about competition (part 1)


rookiedad
09-04-2005, 09:32 PM
i had heard that when competing its best to go bland and traditional, yet on some shows, i have seen people using more exotic fruit sauces and pepper jellys. one example of these at www.texaspepperjelly.com.

do competitors make all their sauces and rubs from scratch, or do they ever use commercial products?

i am experimenting with smoking poultry with bulk tea and sugar. is this even allowed in competition? if so it would require an additional smoker.

do competitors use different smokers for each entry or do they cook everything in the same cooker over the same wood?

i am planning to start competing in the new year and any advice would help. thanks
phil

ThomEmery
09-04-2005, 09:42 PM
Taste depends on location its diffferent in Calif. to Texas to Ny
I am at the experienting point myself
And Im using Texas Peper Jelly 25% Cattlemans Sause 75%
My Judges (Wife and Kids) eat um all gone
Yes It may be wise to use different Small smokers But you will see
lots of guys with one large unit
Do you read the KCBS Board?
Lots of info.

kcpellethead
09-04-2005, 10:11 PM
Well, let's see if I can help without confusing you or me. Competitors use both homemade stuff and commercial products. For example, I use all commercial products. I just don't have the talent to make my own stuff.

"Bland and traditional." Bland, no. Traditional, pretty much. Most judges take one or two bites of your entry. You need to give them everything you've got in those bites. Weird and really different does not work. Slightly off the beaten path but flavors that work well together could help you stand out on a table. Something I see from new folks is trying way out stuff. It doesn't work.

I have no experience with Texas Pepper Jelly, nor have I seen anyone who uses it. However, cooks keep their cards close to the vest. There could be many people using it and you'd never know. However, if it were on the KCBS circuit, I think I would seen somebody out there with it. Maybe I need to order up a jar (or more).

Some folks use one cooker. Others use one for each category. I'm dense and so don't get the "bulk tea and sugar" comment. To compete in a KCBS contest your heat source must be a wood burning fire (wood, charcoal, pellets, etc.)

The best advice I've read is telling folks to become a certified judge and go judge a couple contests. The information provided, including the comments and comparisons with fellow judges after each category is invaluable.

Good luck next year!

i had heard that when competing its best to go bland and traditional, yet on some shows, i have seen people using more exotic fruit sauces and pepper jellys. one example of these at www.texaspepperjelly.com.

do competitors make all their sauces and rubs from scratch, or do they ever use commercial products?

i am experimenting with smoking poultry with bulk tea and sugar. is this even allowed in competition? if so it would require an additional smoker.

do competitors use different smokers for each entry or do they cook everything in the same cooker over the same wood?

i am planning to start competing in the new year and any advice would help. thanks
phil

BrooklynQ
09-04-2005, 10:23 PM
Rookie.
You sure you want to start to compete? It's a dark hole that will suck you in. And you'll love every minute of it. Take my comments with a grain of salt. I've only done it for a year and have never headed my own team.

Are you planing on competeing in the KCBS or MIM world? Or are you looking at unsanctioned contests around Long Island (if you are, please let me know where and when they are!)

First thing I would do, and I did, was to take a judges class. Learn what the judges are told and taught. You'll be taught how to judge appearence and tenderness, but not taste.

when competing its best to go bland and traditional, yet on some shows, i have seen people using more exotic fruit sauces and pepper jellys.

My thought on this is that the judges are there to judge BBQ, not cooking. BBQ has different tastes/styles in different part of the country. Is a magno-pineapple-chipolte sauce gonna taste good, probably. But on first bite - is it what you would expect great BBQ to taste like? I personally would need a lot more experience competing before I would attempt and exotic sauce at a contest. At home, I play around like that all the time.

do competitors make all their sauces and rubs from scratch, or do they ever use commercial products? Depends on the competetior. Many folks start with a commercial rub/suace and doctor it to their liking.

i am experimenting with smoking poultry with bulk tea and sugar. is this even allowed in competition? Yes it is allowed, at least in KCBS. You should download the cooks package from the KCBS site and learn the rules inside and out. (Or if you're doing another competetion circuit - get thier rules and learn them) Most rules do not limit what you use for flavoring or smoking. Fuels are limited (ie: no gas) but I've never seen anything in KCBS or MIM say you can't use X as a flavoring. Garnish and pre-seasoning is another story.

do competitors use different smokers for each entry or do they cook everything in the same cooker over the same wood? Depends on the competitor. From what I've seen most use more than one cooker. Go to the photo albbum section and look at the pictures from the competetions. You'll see what I mean.

The_Kapn
09-04-2005, 10:24 PM
The best advice I've read is telling folks to become a certified judge and go judge a couple contests. The information provided, including the comments and comparisons with fellow judges after each category is invaluable.
Amen, BRO Rod :lol:

In addition--go to events--look, listen, and learn.
When the schedule permits, most teams love to visit with guests. Not all, but many.
Try to hook up with a team as a "dishwasher" or whatever.

Chad and I started with 2 cookers, grew to 3, and finally have one.
Life is so much better with one--but any way that works is fine and I know of at least one dominate team that uses 4 WSM's :lol:
So, up to you on the cookers.

You are soooo close to "The Dark Side" by even asking the question :lol: :lol:
Great addictive ride once you start! :lol:

TIM

ThomEmery
09-04-2005, 10:27 PM
Texas Peper Jelly Is Very popular in Texas lol Lots of guys using it in comp.

kcpellethead
09-04-2005, 10:52 PM
Sounds interesting. Which flavors of TPJ are the most popular and for what meats/categories? Thnx!

ThomEmery
09-05-2005, 10:51 AM
Rod
Texana has two new favors I have not used
Rasberry Chipolte sause has to be good
But belive it or not the kids love Blueberry
on the Spares

www.texaspepperjelly.com
www.texasbbqrub.com
both sites packed with info. and some real good BBQ guys and gals
I am a reg at Texas Rub forum

BBQchef33
09-05-2005, 12:42 PM
heres another nickle worth of perspective. (actually after re-reading this post, its more like a dollar, but i was just passing time, so its long, go get a beer).

My first competition was on one pit and one smokey mountain. I am now on a Stick Burner and 2 smokey mountains(actually 3 because i tend to cook a little more than needed). i also like using diffewrent wood combinations for beef, pork and bird. Your tea and sugar would be legal added to the wood. I have seen teams going with 4 WSM's. I use WSM for the long cooks(brisket and butts) and do chicken and ribs in the stickburner. its just personal preference.

Sauces? Depends on timing. If i have time, I make my own the day before and bring it, but also Dr up commercial sauces on the spot and then use whatever tastes best at the time. I use differecnt sauces for differnt catagories, but they all come from the same base.

As far as bland.. keep this in mind. You have one bite, maybe 2 to make your product stand out in the judges mind. That can be viewed as either so unique, or so flavorful, or so outstanding, that you get the WOW factor that your need for those 60 seconds. If you can do this with a bland product, you are REAL GOOD. Bland is not something i would want a judge to call my stuff.

IMO, going with crazy, untraditional stuff is a crap shoot, Untraditional can make something so unique and flavorful that it will stand out, but you risk turning off the judges.

I quick little story. that taught me a lesson last year. i wont say what event to protect the innocent.

Last year a team next to me was sure they had a top place sauce. They were caterers, they have been cooking BBQ for years and they decided to compete. It was their first time out and they were very confident they had a secret weapon in thir sauce because everyone the catered to loved it. I was visiting them while they were making it and watched them boiling beef and pork bones, had loads of ingriedents, fresh veggies in it, herbs, spices, etc.. When i tasted their sauce it was VERY GOOD!!! Almost Holy sh*t! good.

For a wedding.

it was unique.. it had a velvety mouth feel, alot of flavor... smelled great.. Excellent sauce. When asked my opinion, I asked them if they wanted an honest, blunt opinion based on experience with BBQ and what i felt was competition quality. I told them, "dont turn that in, dont put it on anything you give a judge. It will bomb." It is great for Friday nights dinner, or stuff you will give to the crowd. It was a very good sauce for general consumption, even catering with some catchy name for the dish.... Very unique, but it did not exemplify BBQ that a BBQ judge would expect.. Had alot of UNIQUE and distinct/dominant flavors. What was in it? Not something that (IMO) balanced well with competition BBQ.

From what i got hit with, Black Beans and Cilantro maybe? It tasted like licorace(sp) and had that very unique tex-mex flavoring to it. IMHO, it wasnt BBQ. If I were judging at that event, my response would have been "what am i eating?". Not "this is good BBQ".. it was good, but it wasnt BBQ in the traditional sense. To me, it was risky. But again, it was very very good.... i would go back for seconds...... at a wedding..

What i had still had chunks of meat floating in it, beans, greens, etc... This stuff would be awesome on Rice. They planned on hitting it with the blender and then thickening it. I recommended against it and to go get some commerical sauce. They didnt listen.

Came in 35th out of 35 teams. If i would have bought their stuff for a wedding, or office party, or sweet 16, I would be very happy. It tasted great.. but to the judges, it tanked.

My goal, when competing.. WOW them, dont overwhelm them. A "hint" of something unique is good, make them wonder and search for that flavor unique flavor, but something that bowls them over may blow your chances.

Keep in mind, that those unique flavors like cilantro, cloves, anise, Five star.. to name a few. For those that dont like those flavors, usually REALLY dont like it.. A clove flavor can remind a judge of Anbesol, or Cilantro can taste like soap. That may be a first impression on a single bite that can completely blow the chances. A judge will not "let it grow on them" or take a second bite to see if it gets better. You need to be very careful with stuff along those lines.