View Full Version : First Competition as a CBJ

09-14-2005, 04:26 PM
Well, I finally judged my first KCBS competition this past weekend. It was held at the Benton County Fair in Ashland, MS. There were a total of 18 teams competing. I got down there at 9:30 and we had our judges meeting where we learned we had 24 judges for 18 teams. We still split into 6 judge teams and one of the judges on each team pulled double duty as a judge and a table captain. We also listened to the CD explaining the rules and such and took the oath. First category was sauce at 11:30 and I needed to be back at 11:15.

I walked around a bit watching the teams and man were they busy. I didn't talk to any of them because the reps said that talking with a team before judging was kinda frowned upon. At 11:15 I walked back in the judging area and being a newbie to the whole judging thing, I was spotted by the master judges immediately. Something about the new KCBS judging shirts that are blue with white writing. Anyway, I sat at table number 1 where this nice lady named Bonnie was judging and doing the table captain thing as well. I was also sitting next to this master judge named James who coincidentally organizes the Southaven Springfest MIM competition. Between the two of them, they were explaining how things were going to work and made me feel really comfortable being there.

Ok, 11:30 and we get 5 containers of sauce. We judged it on appearance, taste and ranking since there's no tenderness to sauce. Two of them were really smoky, two had a good vinegar twang to them and one was sweet. I really liked one of the vinegar ones cause it had a bit of spice to it. A lot of the people said it was too spicy. Hmmm....something to remember when I start competing. The remaining containers of sauce were put up front so you could go taste other teams stuff besides the 5 your judged.

At 12:00, the chicken came in. We only saw 3 entries on this one and two boxes were thighs and one was sliced breast. One of the thigh entries didn't really have any color to it and the skin wasn't cooked enough. One had a good color to it but again, the skin wasn't cooked enough. The sliced breast had a chemical taste to it.....like lighter fluid. Nobody liked the lighter fluid taste and judges it accordingly on taste. As with the sauce, the remaining containers were put up front for other judges and the volunteers to taste.

At 12:30, the ribs came in. 4 good entries and one that I wasn't quite sure about. There was one BB entry and the other 4 were spares. The BB entry was sauced and very good. Pulled away from the bone just right. Two of the spares didn't really pull that well although appearance and taste was pretty good. The other spare wasn't sauced but had a nice dry rub on it. Not too much but just enough to let you know it was there. I had gigged it a little on appearance cause it looked dry sitting in the box but it pulled away from the bone better than the first one. The other one that I wasn't quite sure about.....well, this is why.....I know parboiling ribs is against the rules but if I didn't know any better I would have thought they were. The appearance looked like somebody cut them up with a chainsaw and there was no color to them. A lot of grease in the box too. When I went to grab one by the bone, the meat fell off so I scooped up some meat and put it on the plate. It didn't have any taste to it either. Another indicator of being boiled but that was my opinion (along with several of the other judges). I know these guys stayed up all night and spent a lot of money to compete but I truly hope those ribs were an accident and not that team's norm.

At 1:00, the pork came in. Good looking entries. The best ones were the ones that were in chunks, not pulled apart in small strings. There was one like that and it was pretty good but it had already gotten cold and rubbery. The chunks with a bit of bark on the end got my vote. Everything you needed to taste was there. I saw a hint of mustard on one of the sliced pieces but it was a good piece of pork.

At 1:30, the brisket came in. This is what I was waiting for. Out of the 5 entries only one appeared to be dry. I later confirmed that when I tasted it. The rest of them looked really moist and while two of them pulled away easy, the other two were kinda tough. Those four had good taste though but only two of them had the tenderness I was looking for.

We also judged sides and dessert so I left there with a full belly. I found out there's no way to figure out what team you actually judged even after the event was over. I didn't stay for the awards but found out from the BBQ Forum that Jiggy Piggy took GC and River City Rub took reserve. All in all it was a really good time. I only talked to two of the teams down there cause like I said, everyone was busy putting stuff together before the judging and cleaning up and tearing down after the judging.

I hope for those of you considering becoming a judge, that this little write up of my experience helps you out.

09-14-2005, 04:33 PM
Thanks for the report.

09-14-2005, 04:36 PM
Congrats! :D The first one is definately a learning experience.

I always get to the events around 8a.m. and wander around and visit - talkign to the teams is NOT forbidden - some a-holes think you can rig a contest like that but most understand.

In FBA they keep us away from the competitors after about 9 or 9:30 when we usually have the judge's meeting!

It is amazing to do post-mortems after each catagory - as you noted "spice" is a topic with a lot of judges.

My recommendation is judge as often as you can - get to know the teams. Visit early and, of course, after the turnins - that judge's badge and the fact that you cook que will open a lot of doors and beer bottles! :D

09-14-2005, 04:43 PM

That is a first class report!

Thank you a million.


09-14-2005, 04:47 PM
What I found interesting is that sometimes everybody agreed and thought that one particular entry did best. But even if everybody didn't agree, their number one pick was usually my number two pick and vice versa.

09-14-2005, 05:08 PM
Great report, Richie! Definitely gives some insight. I'm hoping to take a class and get certified by the time next season's competitions begin. I'm also assuming that it's OK to volunteer to judge any contest you aren't cooking in?

09-14-2005, 05:12 PM
Great report, Richie! I need to find a judging class near me.

One question... For the pork entries, did folks turn in just the pork, or did they sauce/season it?

09-14-2005, 05:14 PM
I don't see why not. I was telling them that they would probably be judging me next year!

Chick'n Pig BBQ
09-17-2005, 10:09 PM
Great report, I am judging my first KCBS competition this next weekend in Herman MO. I am really looking forward to judging as a CBJ. I wanted to get there early so I could walk around and see everyone.

09-18-2005, 11:02 AM
Nice report.


09-18-2005, 11:29 AM
Thanks, Richie. That was good for competitors, judges, and the rest of us!

09-18-2005, 11:49 AM
Excellent report Richie, i have only judged once since getting certified but i'm looking forward to doing again.Not much opportunity here in AZ.Have to go to CA ,NM or NV.

09-18-2005, 12:43 PM
I judged my first event on 8-27. It was a great experience. Like you I met a lot of people that had been to a few events, and were very helpful.
I judged an event yesterday in Carbondale, IL. It was very small compared to the first one. The first one I went to was 41 teams yesterday there were only 13, but two of them only entered two categories.
If you don't have a team to compete with then judging is a good place to be.

09-18-2005, 01:50 PM
Great report, Richie! I need to find a judging class near me.

One question... For the pork entries, did folks turn in just the pork, or did they sauce/season it?

Ron.....out of the 5 I saw, there were a couple that had sauce and/or a sprinkling of rub on it. The rest were just pulled. There was one that had a hint of mustard on it but it looked like they had used the mustard as a prep like some do to help hold the rub on. The one that was pretty obvious pulled into smaller strands and you could obviously tell they hit it at the last minute with a brushing of sauce and sprinkled a little rub on it. Not that there's anything wrong with that, cause I sometimes do that here at the house to give it that little extra kick. And that may be the way they do their pork but after we got through turning in our cards, the other judges reactions were that they were trying to cover something up. Not necessarily because of the sauce, but because of the sprinkling of rub. Another little tidbit I was gonna put in my memory for competing later on.

A couple of the other entries that turned in pulled and slices, the slices were either dipped or brushed with the sauce but the pulled pieces weren't. I didn't know if that was normal or not because the sauce changed the taste. So if you taste one pulled piece with no sauce and then taste a sliced piece with sauce, which one are you supposed to judge it on? The best tasting one?....LOL. I never asked the other judges about that, we were too busy talking about the sauced/rubbed one. I personally judged it on the pulled piece, not that it was any better than the sliced piece but I figure if he/she put both pieces in there, then it was my choice. Just seemed that they would sauce both or neither.

09-18-2005, 02:03 PM
When I have pork that is presented to me in both slices or chunks and pulled and one is sauced and the other isn't I sample both and score accordingly as if it was just one item.

09-18-2005, 02:44 PM
I'll keep that in mind next time, slat. I just picked one and went with it this time around. Both were good though.

09-18-2005, 03:14 PM
Thanks, Richie Great read. I still need to find a class (and get some class for that matter)

09-18-2005, 03:33 PM
Interesting info! Now for the big question... For the top entries, were they just pork, or doctored in some way? I always add sauce and seasoning at home since that's they way I like it, but I'm wondering what the judges think about that. When watching the All Star BBQ Showdown, I don't think the competitors on the show sauced the pork. Some served sauce on the side, but I think that was it.


09-18-2005, 04:02 PM
In KCBS you can't serve sauce on the side it's a disqualification. I have judged meat both ways sauced and plain. A judge should be objective to all entries regardless of personal likes or dislikes. I personally don't care for sauce, because I think good Que doesn't need it. I don't mind sauce, but don't get carried away with it. I think if you sauce use it to complement your Que not to flavor it.

09-18-2005, 06:14 PM
The pork entry is tough because of the "neutral" flavor of the meat. You can have great bark and very bland meat. One way to over come this is to lightly toss the pulled or chopped meat with some sauce - enough to know it's there but not drenched in it.

Another tactic is to utilize the larger muscles of the butt or shoulder "whole" and lightly glaze them with sauce. If you use the plugs and the heavily barked end of the butt you can get that combination of bark and moist meat.

Like I said to begin the pork entry is tough to win.

Chick'n Pig BBQ
09-18-2005, 08:13 PM
I have been told that if you don't sauce you will not win??? In KCBS land

09-18-2005, 10:13 PM
Interesting info! Now for the big question... For the top entries, were they just pork, or doctored in some way? I always add sauce and seasoning at home since that's they way I like it, but I'm wondering what the judges think about that. When watching the All Star BBQ Showdown, I don't think the competitors on the show sauced the pork. Some served sauce on the side, but I think that was it.


Ron.....there was no way for me to tell what entry won but I will say this. Out of the 5 our table judged, the ones that were liked were the ones that looked moist. They either had their own moisture or they were sprayed or were covered in a very light coating of sauce. Not too thick a coat. They also had a little something else in there besides the normal pork taste....like they had been marinated or injected or both. Same went for the brisket. The entries that looked moist did the best at our table.

09-19-2005, 07:36 AM
awsome post
Thanks for taking the time.

09-19-2005, 09:32 AM
I agree with Richie. The moist entries do seem to fair better in both pork and brisket. And there is a difference between moist and wet. A little goes a long way.

09-19-2005, 01:34 PM
I hate to just say thanks when the work that went into it is so obvious , but I am overwhelmed enough I have to think a while to even have intelligent thoughts so I will stick to WOW and Thanks!!!!

09-19-2005, 07:21 PM
I agree with Richie. The moist entries do seem to fair better in both pork and brisket. And there is a difference between moist and wet. A little goes a long way.

I was trying to think of the words to describe it earlier and it finally came to me. When I say it looked moist it looked like it was sweating. Not to where you could see it sloshing in the bottom of the box but enough to make the meat glisten.

09-19-2005, 09:37 PM
great report--good hearing what goes on in the judging tent

09-20-2005, 07:19 AM
My limited judging experience suggests that a shiny glaze is very helpful and submitting more than 6 pieces (for the T/c, vols, etc) puts the judges into a good mood.

Looking forward to meeting you guys at Hermann

09-20-2005, 09:15 AM
Buzz has illustrated what I was referring to very well in the pic above.

Florida Bill
09-12-2006, 12:39 PM
I'm new to this forum and have been browsing the files. I really appreciate your post. It's good to see it from the judge's view.

09-12-2006, 03:46 PM
Glad you enjoyed it, Bill. I went back and did the same competition this year and had a blast. Little bit bigger this year but still one of the smaller comps with about 30 teams total. Of course, I didn't get a rib this year like I did last year but I did get a chicken thigh that had skin on it with the same texture as a piece of inner tube. Other than that, everything was mostly 7's, 8's and 9's. Had one rib I gave all 9's to and one piece of brisket that I gave all 9's too. Whoever did that brisket, nailed it. It looked good, had that perfect "snap" to it when you pulled it apart and had an awesome flavor to it. It was a good time and I look forward to doing it again next year as well.

09-12-2006, 04:00 PM
super job reporting, we will be expecting these reports from every contest you judge at. thank you very much

09-12-2006, 04:23 PM
Thanks for the awesome report.....