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Sawdustguy
11-10-2005, 09:40 PM
Maybe this is a dumb question but it is one that is burning inside both my brother and I. We are a new team. We have only cooked in one official competition. Because of work related commitments we were not able to get to any competitions after July. Lord knows we have cooked at least a dozen mock competitions where we have purchased turn in boxes, timed ourselves, and presented our Q to friends and neighbors to judge our stuff. We have made investments in good equipment, we have become certified judges, we practice at least twice a month, and read everything we can about championship bbq, but neigher my brother or I feel like we are making any progress. How does a team progress from newbies to champions? I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea. We enjoy the competiton and comradery that goes along with it and will never be dissapointed or loose a minute of sleep over not winning. We would just love to know what it would take to get to the next level and if what we are doing is putting us on the right path.

The_Kapn
11-10-2005, 09:55 PM
Excellent question--when I find the answer, I will let you know http://bbq-brethren.com/forum/images/smilies/redface.gif
Dave and I are not "champions" by any stretch of the imagination.
But, we are learning and getting more consistant and that is a milestone to us!

Many of the steps that help have been posted here and other places.
You are doing all the basics--great.

Maybe--get certified as a judge, and more importantly--go judge.

Take a class if offered--the return to you will depend on the instructor and your attention as a student.

If you get a chance to help (wash dishes) with a Champion--"move Heaven and Earth" to do it. Trust me here http://bbq-brethren.com/forum/images/smilies/icon_biggrin.gif

Be "thick skinned" and accept input (harder to do than you think).

Realize that there is no one set way or formula to BBQ. Keep your mind totally open.

Stick with the "basics" of cooking. I do not know how to describe that, but a lot of the stuff Dave and I did are now "history"--just ideas that did not work, but we hung on to them. Got incredibly complicated till we got back to earth.
"This is not rocket science--it is cooking meat"!

Enter all the events you can--learn--get better.

No "magic bullet" or formula that we have found.
If someone else knows the "Fast Track"--pass it on http://bbq-brethren.com/forum/images/smilies/redface.gif

Much more left for others.

Good question!

TIM

Jeff_in_KC
11-10-2005, 10:13 PM
God knows I have a ways to go myself but I THINK I have what I'd say is a decent road map (and you gotta have one to get anywhere). First off, I like the "Six Competitions" Theory I mentioned in Noah's thread that Phil shared with me. In case you didn't see it, Phil told me it takes about six competitions before you really get the hang of things: what to take with you, what kinds of rubs and sauces to use, what you need to be doing at certain times and most importantly what the judges are looking for. As I've gone through each of the first three contests I've been in, I feel like I'm getting a better handle on things each time out. I've pared down my list to take with me, I've gotten a good process down with some rubs I feel confident in. AND I believe I'm starting to get a feel for what judges WANT to see, not what I think is good or what my family loves to eat. This is based on some mistakes I've made and having good friends to point them out (thanks Wayne!). For next year, I plan to tweak my recipes slightly each time I cook (at home or in the back yard) until I find something I can consistently produce quality competition results with. Then stick with it every contest and turn to refining technique. I believe being able to (figuratively) do this stuff in my sleep is the key to consistency and I believe consistency is the key to becoming a champion. In one of the most effective real estate training programs I've seen, a basic fundamental is that sales agents concentrate on what works and quickly discard the things that do not work. I think the same thing can be applied here in the BBQ arena.

Additionally, I try to take a look at all the turn-in photos I can to see what others are doing and quickly judge in my mind what *I* think of them and grab ideas here and there.

Finally, I think that while there is no substitute for getting out there and doing the contests, getting the advice from neighbors at contests and from the wealth of experience and knowledge here on the Brethren forum is GOLD! I mentioned last month that when I was set up at the Royal and working on turn-ins that I felt like I'd been in many contests before because of the help and advice here at our site. I'd heard all the terms, seen pictures of turn-in boxes, felt the stress at crunch time from the stories of others, etc. and knew all the rules and procedures like the back of my hand. But the funny thing is I feel like I was an idiot at the Royal NOW after two other contests! I look back on my turn in boxes and what I did for a couple of them and it's no farkin' wonder I finished 400th out of 474! My overall scores progressed from around 560 at the Royal to 585 at DeSoto to 601 at Harrisonville. In looking at other people's scores, it appears I need to be in the 630-650 range consistently to walk and get paid on a regular basis. That's my goal. I try to come away from each contest with enough NEW knowledge to increase my score 15-20 points each time out.

Maybe that was long-winded and I earned a "Chatty Farker" designation with just this post but your message brought a lot of things out that I've been pondering and mulling over for the last couple of months in prparation for 2006. I am sure some guys with much more hardware than I have will chime in on this and maybe I'll get some new info to add another 20 points to the overall! :wink:

MoKanMeathead
11-11-2005, 09:04 AM
I think to get to a position where you get your name called and maybe a top 10 or top 5 finish once in a while it takes practice - practice - practice - AND learning from every thing you do and see at a competition - be abservant and ask questions. No one will gfive you their recipes (so don't ask that) but most will help you out any other way they can.

To get to be a championship team and expect to take GC or RGC every contest you enter it takes contistency - consistency - consistency.

Just my $0.02

BrooklynQ
11-11-2005, 09:11 AM
How do you get to champion? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice. But I wouldn't know. I haven't played either place yet!

homebbq
11-11-2005, 09:17 AM
Maybe I can share a little advice here.. I certainly am not as accomplished as some, but I think I have done fairly well in the 3 years I have been competing...

First and foremost, there is no substitute for competing. The more contests you do, the better you will become, as long as your drive and motivation is to improve, no matter how good you think you are.

In the 3 years I have been doing this I have now competed in over 60 contests. It takes some teams 10 years to do that many contests. But, I am now more comfortable, and I actually believe I can cook better at a contest, in that setting and with all the variables that go along with it, than I can at home or anywhere else. With that belief comes confidence that you can produce a consistent product from one contest to the next.

As Tim suggests, if you have the opportunity, take a class... This will take a big chunk of the learning curve out of competing and being successful. I wish there were classes available when I started. Ray, Lee & Bobbie, Myron, and a couple of others (and now me), are teachers that will do you some good. You will save a lot of money in the long run, by taking a class.

Pay close attention to your score sheets, and in KCBS taste especially. If you consistently have a couple of judges that love your stuff, and a couple that hate your stuff, you need to moderate your flavor to try to get some consistency from the judges. You will almost always have 1 or 2 that seem to be bit off the wall, but you should try to have some consistency between 4 to 5 judges (hopefully 6).

Talk to those who have succeeded, and listen to what they have to say. I know this year and last year, I had the opportunity to spend time (in Douglas) with Pat Burke (Tower Rock BBQ). I really enjoyed talking to him, and learned from the conversations. According to Pat he has won over 170 Grand Champions, now thats success...

Anyway I hope this little bit helps...

scottyd
11-11-2005, 09:25 AM
Great replys, Thanks to all with your wisdom, as with this wisdom we all learn and pick up on ideas and points in the right direction.

Thank you all very much

Jeff_in_KC
11-11-2005, 10:58 AM
Kevin, I think that "moderating your flavor" advice is huge. Wayne gave me a heads up on that and my scores on ribs have been going up ever since.

I think we have another keeper thread going here! Thanks guys!

icemn62
11-11-2005, 01:41 PM
I love reading the Competition threads and usually keep my thoughts to my self, since I don't compete. But this question the answer seemed obvious to me. The Yankees best known team in MLB ~ They play baseball. The Pat in the NFL, bigtime winners ~ play football. Spurs in Basketball ~ play basketball What do they have in common....They practice their crafts and compete each and every time there is a game. The teams who post their scores in the top 10s on a regular basis....Practice and compete on almost every weekend it seems. I seriously wonder about some of our private lives, because face it. We COOK every weekend the ole lady does not make us take the family somewhere away from our cookers.

You know you are a Brethren when you hate to go on vacation, because your smoker will be sitting cold while you are gone.

I would think that if you wish to be a top team...............PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, Compete, Practice, Practice, Practice, Compete, Compete and Practice some more.

spicewine
11-11-2005, 02:02 PM
I would say that good record keeping ( Times , Temps, Procedures, ect.) are a very valuable tool in consistant product. If adjustments have to be made, make small ones and then build on them. Refer to your notes often so that you don't miss something that has been working for you.

Jeff_in_KC
11-11-2005, 03:48 PM
Jay, that's something I was PLANNING on doing but I got so busy that I couldn't PLUS it seems that the conditions are so different from time to time. For instance, last contest, we practically had to build a fortress around the smokers with tarps and whatever we could find to block because the cold wind was HUMMIN' and we couldn't keep the pit temps up. I think once I can afford a good quality smoker, things like that will be much easier.

Now as far as recipes and some of my basic procedures, I have them down pretty good.

spicewine
11-11-2005, 03:58 PM
On the contrary old friend! This is exactly the best time to take notes so that you are ready when you face similar conditions. You would simply turn to that page in your journal and make the same adjustments. It really doesn't matter what smoker you have. It's how you master it in any weather conditions.

Solidkick
11-11-2005, 04:43 PM
Kevin (homebbq) is right.....taste and tenderness.......

Jeff_in_KC
11-11-2005, 05:55 PM
On the contrary old friend! This is exactly the best time to take notes so that you are ready when you face similar conditions. You would simply turn to that page in your journal and make the same adjustments. It really doesn't matter what smoker you have. It's how you master it in any weather conditions.

You're right, Jay. I'm farkin' making excuses for what I didn't do. I should have made notes where I could and organized them better when I got home! I didn't lose it when the weather went to chit but I didn't keep my complete wits about me and worried (and built shelters!) more than I should have. The thing is, I don't think I made the best adjustments at Harrisonville so I'm not sure I'd want to repeat them (although my 4th in ribs was good and THAT was the main smoker we were struggling with! :roll: ). I can go through each of the three contests and summarize pretty decent what I did and didn't do as a start for '06. I think I'll work on that over the weekend. I won't have all the specifics like temps but I can replay in my head enough to have SOMETHING of value. 2006 will have detailed journals! :wink:

Jeff_in_KC
11-11-2005, 06:04 PM
Kevin (homebbq) is right.....taste and tenderness.......

I know it isn't a salad contest but Wayne told me never to give away any points in presentation either... although I sometimes question it's true importance. For instance, at DeSoto, my chicken itself, *I* thought looked like crap and my presentation was ho hum. I checked out Steve (Denver Cajun BBQ Crewe) next door after I sent mine with my runner and his looked flat out awesome as he was finishing up! When scores were announced, I had finished ahead of his chicken entry. That one still surprises me.

You know, this thread has the makings of a fantastic "article" on what it takes to take your competitive cooking to the next level and get paid consistently. There are a lot of great cooks here contributing to this discussion. Somewhere in all this advice, there has to be a Grand Championship waiting to happen, right? :grin:

Sawdustguy
11-11-2005, 06:43 PM
Thanks Guy's! I know to alot of you experienced guys this sounds like old hat common sense, but to us new teams, this is golden. Keep it coming. One of the amazing things that I have observed in my short stint in competition bbq, is that in no other sport would a team actually take the time to mentor and help another team to compete in an event they themselves were competing. Unbelievable and refreshing! Makes me smile.:biggrin:

dxesmkr
11-11-2005, 08:00 PM
Awesome thread!!!Very good answers to the question.
Consistency and presentation of product are the only two things "you" can control.Taste is subjective from person to person.

Willy T.

homebbq
11-11-2005, 08:08 PM
I certainly did not suggest to ignore any of the criteria, but taste accounts for greater than 50% of your score. Here is how the breakdown is;

APPEARANCE—.5714; TASTE—2.2858; TENDERNESS/TEXTURE —1.1428.

Its important for it to look good, but if it doesn't cut it wih taste, its all over...

Sawdustguy
11-11-2005, 08:39 PM
I certainly did not suggest to ignore any of the criteria, but taste accounts for greater than 50% of your score. Here is how the breakdown is;

APPEARANCE—.5714; TASTE—2.2858; TENDERNESS/TEXTURE —1.1428.

Its important for it to look good, but if it doesn't cut it wih taste, its all over...

I thought in a KCBS event you simply double the taste score. Maybe I am wrong?

The_Kapn
11-11-2005, 09:03 PM
I thought in a KCBS event you simply double the taste score. Maybe I am wrong?
Kevin's "weighting factors" are right out of the KCBS cooks handbook.
FBA uses "weights" also--different numbers I have buried in an email somewhere.

Taste is the "biggie" in KCBS--but like Kevin says--gotta keep them all in mind!

TIM

kcpellethead
11-11-2005, 09:51 PM
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. . . . .

This is so true for competition barbecue. I like Tim's comment about having thick skin when it comes to constructive criticism. So true . . . .

Sawdustguy
11-12-2005, 01:15 AM
Kevin's "weighting factors" are right out of the KCBS cooks handbook.
FBA uses "weights" also--different numbers I have buried in an email somewhere.

Taste is the "biggie" in KCBS--but like Kevin says--gotta keep them all in mind!

TIM

I wasn't sure. I guess I learn something every day. Thanks for confirming it.

wsm
11-12-2005, 06:02 AM
I certainly did not suggest to ignore any of the criteria, but taste accounts for greater than 50% of your score. Here is how the breakdown is;

APPEARANCE—.5714; TASTE—2.2858; TENDERNESS/TEXTURE —1.1428.

Its important for it to look good, but if it doesn't cut it wih taste, its all over...

I always think of APPEARANCE as counting ONE, TASTE counts 4 and TENDERNESS/TEXTURE counts 2.

Those are the ratios of the KCBS's funny weighting factors.

drbbq
11-12-2005, 07:38 AM
Before the current weighting factors, KCBS did simply double the taste scores. Needless to say with todays volume there would be a lot of ties. The factors work pretty good. I think taste should be the heavy and appearance should be very light. I am as guilty as anyone at bitching about KCBS, but they are doing something right. The growth is huge. There were about 140 contsts in '04, about 200 in '05 and if they can find enough reps, I'd bet it'll be close to 300 in '06.

Solidkick
11-12-2005, 07:52 AM
The growth is huge. There were about 140 contsts in '04, about 200 in '05 and if they can find enough reps, I'd bet it'll be close to 300 in '06.

I agree....and I will go as far as saying, in my area, in 3-5 years I can find a comp about every other weekend to cook at and not have to drive more than a hundred miles.

I've also heard of a so called circuit possibly being formed in the future.......that makes me want to start counting down my days to retirement, for sure! Move over Trigg, I'm out there with ya! :mrgreen:

drbbq
11-12-2005, 08:04 AM
Here's my take on what makes a BBQ champion.

Over the top attention to detail is my number one.
The big winners are obsessed. There is an old story about Mike Scrutchfield where he cooked chicken 60 times in 60 days to get it right. That story is true. Mike was the first cook I know of that tried to cook his food to manipulate the judges into giving him all 9's. He was one of the best when he cooked. We all learned then that you had to pay attention to every detail. Before that, guys just cooked some BBQ and hoped their's was the best that day. Some of the "legends" of BBQ were very good at that, but faded fast when this new way came to be.

I've had the pleasure of cooking with guys like Chris Lilly and Myron Mixon, Dirty Dick and Fast Eddy, and I gotta tell you, these guys get real serious. Another new guy that has that same look in his eye is Adam Perry Lang. These guys go into the zone. It's a waste of time even talking to them. Everything from the lettuce, to the wood to the brush they use for BBQ sauce is as good as it can possibly be, or every effort possible will be made to fix it. No excuses. I suspect Kevin is like this too. There are others.

Practicing all the time is a close second, and probably fits under the obsession title anyway. It's easier for the guys with restaurants, but not exclusive to them. And I mean practicing everything. Don't skip presentations. The food doesn't always fit in the box like you think it will.

For me, I must admit that my current BBQ life leaves me a little short of this obsession. I have too many distractions to do all the things that need to be done, but I'll be back.

nmayeux
11-12-2005, 06:14 PM
DR,
Nice tips, and great thread guys. I have been taking all points to heart. This sport will probably kill me one way or another!

The_Kapn
11-12-2005, 06:31 PM
DR,
Nice tips, and great thread guys. I have been taking all points to heart. This sport will probably kill me one way or another!
Noah,
I saw it in your eyes at Dillard--welcome to the "DARK SIDE" :roll:

TIM