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View Full Version : A little surprised visiting first bbq comp


lance0623
08-04-2012, 09:09 PM
Took the family to the Vista, CA Smokin Q contest today, had some good Q, some just ok, and had a few questions.

How close are the samples to the actual turn-ins in quality (generally speaking). I tried probably 6-7 ribs, and only one was what I would consider outstanding. I wish I could remember that team's name so I could give them a shout-out (and so I could see how they finished). One rib was actually raw (which I discreetly showed the lady at the sample table), most were surprisingly mild in flavor.

Two teams brisket was outstanding, Pitcrew was one and I cant remember the other. Both were very tender and moist, the other team's brisket had an extremely strong beefy flavor - more so than any other I tried. I see Pitcrew finished high in brisket - congratulations! The other 3-4 briskets I tried were no where close to these two; this seemed to be the category with the biggest differences between the best and the rest. I wish I knew how to cook brisket like those two teams.

Pulled pork - all that I tried were good, with not a lot of difference between them. Feel sorry for the judges having to distinguish what was to me very small differences.

My wife LOVED the peach cobbler from When Pigs Fly!

I was disappointed that alot of the top teams that I recognized didn't do samples, or were out by the time I made it to their booth.

I was very impressed with the obvious amount of time, effort, and money these teams put into the competition; and I am very jealous of alot of those smokers!

Crash
08-05-2012, 04:20 AM
Good question. IMO it's all over the board as to what to expect. Some teams turn in their left over competiton meat, which can cause them to run out early. Some teams cook a bunch of meat on-site the day before or day of that is not exactly turn-in quality, but still very good. Other teams even use their practice cook meat from the weeks prior to a contest (food-savered and frozen to maintain quality). Some teams are really there to just compete and do not hand out samples, and you can't fault them for that.

People's Choice (PC, handing out samples) is a huge undertaking after grinding through a competition and often requires additional hands to accomplish on a large scale. It can be a crap shoot for teams that choose to PC to the public. A $1 return for each sample does not allow teams to recoup a lot (if any) of $ if they hand out ribs. Ribs are almost always gone fast since that is what a lot of the public seem to enjoy. From my experience as a cook, chicken and pork tend to be a better value to the teams to PC. I've seen a lot of teams roll in heavy with a lot of PC meat, only to find that the crowd is smaller than expected. In this instance, it is the team's finacial loss.

If you want to sample the best PC, I would definitely suggest hitting the teams as early as possible when the PC portion begins.

Just MHO.....hope that helps.

EatonHoggBBQ
08-05-2012, 05:41 AM
Pulled pork - all that I tried were good, with not a lot of difference between them. Feel sorry for the judges having to distinguish what was to me very small differences.


Judges do not compare one sample to another.

Pigs on Fire
08-05-2012, 01:38 PM
Judges do not compare one sample to another.

They do in GBA and MBN blind box

didisea
08-05-2012, 02:07 PM
I don't go out of my way to create PC meat because I usually cook by myself, so I can't cook the competiton and hand out samples generally. What I sample out to people, is the meat that didn't make the "cut" to be in the box that the judges get. So they are the worst racks of ribs and the "ends" of the ribs and brisket. Pork is usually not sauced as I would put it in the box, because I'll use a different sauce or the jous from the pork itself to mix in. Chicken is probably the closest to what actually goes into the box, except that there are only about 5 pieces left over to pass out. It would also depend on whether you are going to the comp on the day before, or turn in day. On turn in day you are more likely to score something close to what actually goes in the box.

CBQ
08-06-2012, 08:01 AM
...most were surprisingly mild in flavor...

Whether it's People's Choice or blind judging, cooks are trying to cook BBQ with a broad appeal. Really bold flavors have to appeal to everyone. If you cook something that people will love or hate, you will get 9s and 6s.

ROF, Texas
08-06-2012, 10:13 AM
At local comps we tend to have a following of 20-30 pepole and we try to prepare some "crowd grub" for these participants. This will normally include some apatizers on Friday evening (often experimenting for "open" or chef's choice entries). On turn in day, it tis exactly as described above, the meat that does not make the cut goes to the crowd. We will at tmes purposely overcook for this reason. In general, a competetive BBQ team has their plate full trying to battle the elements and produce the very best product possible. If a PC catagory is enetered/available this requires a great deal of support to participate in. This support can entail both labor and food cost which at a larger comp can be extreme. We recently passed on a comp due to this. It was a seafood comp which we really wanted to participate in. A mandatory catagory was shrimp gumbo which was a PC catagory. The minimum ammout of shrimp gumbo for PC was 15 gallons. To produce a quality product for this catagory would have a raw product cost of around $1,000.00. With a $200.00 1st place prize, we could not make this work for us. It's definitely not about the money, but to spend 2K on a weekend comp to have a crowd of partially intoxicated, chain smoking, untrained (public) judges, tell me that we cook good gumbo, is not necessary!
Sorry for the harshness, proably been doing this too long!!

riblette
08-06-2012, 10:35 AM
Yeah, that seems pretty typical.
At most events we’ll have a few teams show up primarily to vend (with the competition as their second priority) so their samples doesn’t usually represent what does real well at the judges’ table). And there will be a few teams selling what’s left over from what they did not turn in (which by default is usually not as good as what the judges would have tasted). I think it’s pretty rare for a top team to be able to provide the public with the same level of product they turn in – it’s just too labor intensive and in some cases too expensive, but it does happen.

Thanks for supporting the event… Hope you had a good time!

Sawdustguy
08-06-2012, 11:47 AM
The board of health in many states prohibit the handing out of samples at a contest without a health inspection and temporary vendors license. The reason should be obvious. They are just trying to protect the public. The judges sign a wavier and eat at their own risk.

dosvans
08-06-2012, 12:16 PM
Not many, if any, competitions in my area allow you to hand out samples/leftovers to the general public. With it being only myself and my wife cooking, we probably wouldn't have any time to hand out samples anyway.

lance0623
08-06-2012, 12:29 PM
Thanks for the responses/clarification.

Talking to the competitors, seeing everything they go through (time, money, effort), and tasting their bbq really changed my opinion. I used to want to try and put together a team, but I see now I wouldn't have a clue; specifically on rules, procedures, proper timing, etc. Of course, I still think I could put together respectable rib and pork entries - but my brisket is laughable compared to the best ones I tried.

I would still love to help another team and to learn - just not do it on my own. Hat's off to all comp teams - I have new-found respect for all of you.

big matt
08-06-2012, 12:54 PM
Thanks for the responses/clarification.

Talking to the competitors, seeing everything they go through (time, money, effort), and tasting their bbq really changed my opinion. I used to want to try and put together a team, but I see now I wouldn't have a clue; specifically on rules, procedures, proper timing, etc. Of course, I still think I could put together respectable rib and pork entries - but my brisket is laughable compared to the best ones I tried.

I would still love to help another team and to learn - just not do it on my own. Hat's off to all comp teams - I have new-found respect for all of you.

What everyone has said is pretty much right on..we cooked this comp and I did do extra but it was gone very quickly..for our team we only sell our leftover comp meat we do not compromise our quality..I'd rather tell someone sorry were out than to give them chitty food and have them walk away and toss it in the trash..If you show up at noon you will most likely get food from us after 1:30 maybe not.

Andrews
08-06-2012, 01:48 PM
One guy stopped by our booth and tried one rib and walked away. About 2 minutes later he came back and bought the remaining 20 or so ribs left, guess he liked them...

Lance0623, not sure if you came by my setup or not, I had the Stubb's canopy next to the Simple Green canopy. If you did, I hope you liked our meats.

Pigs on Fire
08-06-2012, 01:56 PM
One guy stopped by our booth and tried one rib and walked away. About 2 minutes later he came back and bought the remaining 20 or so ribs left, guess he liked them...

I have had this happen one time. Looking back, I wish I would have given him some more meat.

Having someone hand you $20 for a rack of ribs and not having to fool with packing them up and taking them home and either re-heating them or begging co-workers to buy them is worth gold.

I wish there were more spectators like that.

lance0623
08-06-2012, 02:07 PM
What everyone has said is pretty much right on..we cooked this comp and I did do extra but it was gone very quickly..for our team we only sell our leftover comp meat we do not compromise our quality..I'd rather tell someone sorry were out than to give them chitty food and have them walk away and toss it in the trash..If you show up at noon you will most likely get food from us after 1:30 maybe not.

I was there right at noon; I figured the samples would go quickly. My father in law tried to buy some brisket from Pitcrew, but couldn't do it. I wasn't with him at the time so I don't know if they were out or not.

I did try your pulled pork, Big Matt, very good. I was really hoping to try some of your ribs!

lance0623
08-06-2012, 02:09 PM
One guy stopped by our booth and tried one rib and walked away. About 2 minutes later he came back and bought the remaining 20 or so ribs left, guess he liked them...

Lance0623, not sure if you came by my setup or not, I had the Stubb's canopy next to the Simple Green canopy. If you did, I hope you liked our meats.

I don't think I did - but if you want to send me some I'll be happy to try them out for you!

big matt
08-06-2012, 02:18 PM
I was there right at noon; I figured the samples would go quickly. My father in law tried to buy some brisket from Pitcrew, but couldn't do it. I wasn't with him at the time so I don't know if they were out or not.

I did try your pulled pork, Big Matt, very good. I was really hoping to try some of your ribs!

Lance I'm glad you liked what you did get to taste..and I'm sorry about the ribs I cooked 12 racks(8 extra)but they were gone in about 10 min...tell you what if we cook Santee(oct 13th I believe)I'll save you a plate of all of our food no charge..if you come out let me know.

lance0623
08-06-2012, 02:19 PM
Lance I'm glad you liked what you did get to taste..and I'm sorry about the ribs I cooked 12 racks(8 extra)but they were gone in about 10 min...tell you what if we cook Santee(oct 13th I believe)I'll save you a plate of all of our food no charge..if you come out let me know.

Very generous offer, I think I might make the trip just for that!

ique
08-06-2012, 02:25 PM
The board of health in many states prohibit the handing out of samples at a contest without a health inspection and temporary vendors license. The reason should be obvious. They are just trying to protect the public. The judges sign a wavier and eat at their own risk.

Thats the reason you always hear. There is an article in the latest Bullsheet that says the same thing. Its usually a bit broader than what you state, more like "The Health Dept. prohibits samples"

I don't think that's the real reason. If teams can pass a basic health dept. review they could distribute samples (or vend them). In fact based on what I have seen there are many teams that have the experience and know how to run a health department sanctioned operation. I have seen some scary stuff in the way vendors run their show at a contest (not all, many are pros).

Here is the real reason: many vendors pay the organizer thousands of dollars for the right to vend. If the organizer allowed teams to vend as well this would cannibalize the vendors sales. Soft vendor sales would mean the organizer could not charge top rates for the right to vend.

It certainly would impact sales because the public obviously wants to taste the competition barbecue.

The reason the Harpoon event in VT is so successful is because the crowd gets what they want: comp bbq. Food for thought for new organizers out there.

riblette
08-06-2012, 03:44 PM
Chris, That’s an interesting perspective…I guess these things can be pretty regional; Out here some of the events really stress how much they want the teams to vend. There have been couple that have tried to require teams to vend (but have had to back off because of the sanctioning regulations). Teams are reluctant because of the varying Health Dept regulations (there are horror stories about inspectors making teams throw away EVERYTHING due to a minor violation), the unpredictable number of patrons (it’s not unusual for a (specific) promoter to over-state the expected attendance by a factor of 5-10), and just the overall hassle. It’s been a topic of debate (as are most things in California:drama:) for a couple years. Some promoters have let it be known that contests will likely disappear if we cannot increase the amout of sampling/tasting/whatever to the public.

Lance, If you wanna compete, jump on in. Hook up with a team, or enter a backyard contest...a lot of those are held in conjunction with the “pro” series contests. After you get a couple under your belt it won’t seem so overwhelming…my team is mediocre (on a good day) and we still have a blast...it’s harder than work, but it beats working!

wtxsmoker
08-06-2012, 04:44 PM
Sampling for the public and peoples choice. A pc does not pay so why do it IMO.

I cooked at a cancer benifit with public sampling several comp teams were there. I had to cook enough to feed 50 people $$$ and a trophy.
I watched my meat go over to the compeitors camps. Later one of my biggest competor thank me for letting him in on a closely gaurded secret ingrediant.