View Full Version : My first competition

10-01-2012, 09:37 PM
Things I learned on my first competition in New London—this was my first competition and I don’t suppose I made it any easier on myself by going solo. I went into it with low to no expectations just hoping not to finish last in every entry, finished 15/19 and got one call—

1) I think this was most important, what a good bunch of people are involved in the game, if you will. At the cooks meetings where I had to say it was my first competition a very nice woman (I am terrible a remembering names) from the Rib Wthin offered to help me with building my boxes (but I am a stubborn ole man and passed). In walking around the site that Saturday evening I had no fewer than three teams ask me if I had any questions or if there was anything they could do to help me. After all the submissions I was talking to the guys at ZBQ and told them the problems I had with cutting my pork for the box (which by the way I did get my only call on) and they told me I should have pulled the one of the butts off at 180 for slicing rather than the 200 or so I cook to at home.

2) It is a lot harder that I thought. You are not working in the comfort of your backyard. I learned that sometimes you just have to improvise –there were parts missing from the canopy I had just taken delivery of—ie the cable to hang the sides from (sent under separate cover—waiting for me when I got home)—I could go on with that concept, but wont bore you any more than I am. I watched Sledneck who arrived late struggling to jury rig power to his site – which he managed to do. ( I will bring him a sharper knife for cutting those ribs next time I see him.)

3) In spite of having done a full practice cook the week before, and thinking I had my timing down, well sometimes the meats chose to not cooperate. Two briskets and 3 butts all hit temps at the same time—two hours before they were supposed to.

4) Judging can be fickle, well in fairness, clearly the standards are somewhat nebulous--or I really am just clueless in what they are looking for. I thought my chicken box looked like a road accident—on appearance I got 4 x 8 and one 6. I was expecting 6’s across the board. I thought my brisket box was the best one I submitted and I received 5 x 7.

I have probably rambled on too long, but I conclusion I would like to extend a thanks, firstly to the generous members of this site from who I have learned a lot, Then Chris from ZBQ who gave me the nudge through this site to actually enter, then to Sledneck who organized the class I took earlier this year where he brought in Joe of Tippy Canoe and Ryan of Big Tz, the KCBS reps at the event, Ken and Kathie Dakai who went out of their way to help me and Barbara Neff who organized the event.

When and where it the next one ? !!!

The Cosmic Pig
10-01-2012, 09:44 PM
Good read! Congrats on living through the first one! It does get easier, but the "challanges" just change - they never go completely away! Fun, though, huh!?!?!? :thumb:

10-01-2012, 09:50 PM
great write. couple thoughts.

1) it's absolutley the people that bring us all back to each event; don't cook your pork to 180*. read your class notes.

2)improvising is paramount, both with equipment you forgot or the cook.

3)just rest them in an insulated carrier? no worries.

4)agreed, thanks steve and ryan and joe for the class. i was there as well, but we didn't meet i think. i'm in trumbull. i'm happy to help.

Butt Rubb'n BBQ
10-01-2012, 09:54 PM
Congrats on the call. I did my first alone as we'll so I feel your pain. Take a judges course and you will know what they are looking for but you have to remember that you are cooking for 6 different people who have completely different tastes. I did a comp this past weekend and there were some big name champs there and they didn't win. Anyone can be beat on any given day. Happy smoking!

10-01-2012, 09:59 PM
When and where it the next one ? !!!

This weekend.

10-01-2012, 10:21 PM
Congrats on your first comp.. I have my first comp this weekend :icon_blush:
I hope I get the same greeting and help like you did, because I'm sure it will be a cluster for me. Lol

10-02-2012, 08:11 AM
Congrats on your first comp! I've done my first two in the last month and my best piece of advice is to take notes for next time. Write down things that you didn't realize you needed or improvements you could do next time as you think of them. Saved myself a ton of hassle by looking at my notes from the first one before the second one.

10-02-2012, 08:32 AM
Very respectable finish for your first comp especially solo. Hell you beat me in ribs and pork and I've been at this 7 years

Mornin' Wood
10-02-2012, 08:56 AM
Congratulations on your first comp and your first call! Not easy, especially solo, no doubt.
I did my first kcbs comp this season, too...talk about stressful!
I said hi to you a few minutes before 11:00am Sunday morning...stopped by with my ten year old son. You seemed to have it together pretty well, I thought.

I ended up judging, and I would have to say that the five pork boxes at my table were all excellent--extra kudos to you for your call! Pork competition was especially stiff.

I hope to see you compete again, hopefully I will be in the spot next to you.

10-02-2012, 09:24 AM
Congrats on the 1st comp. Your results sound a lot like mine. Cooks meeting, wandering around, and equipment issues. I was lucky enough (note sure considering they pretty much swept all categories) to be next to Motley Que. They were awesome. Sat will me for the better part of 2 hours to give pointers and tips. Even they forget things. I was able to loan them a pair of tongs.

It's a bug that once you get bit, you want to continue it. This bug has caused me to partly fulfill a dream of owning my own business (catering) and making people happy through cooking. Also has consumed my life for the past 5 months.

Keep it up. Get some teammates to help out. Make a list of what you need and have fun. It's an expensive hobby, but fun as hell while you are doing it!

Pig Pimp 21
10-02-2012, 12:25 PM
I cannot imagine competing solo. We have six core members of our team and another half dozen helpers. I would be stressed out if I had to keep track of everything by myself.

10-02-2012, 12:53 PM
Congrats and good write up!

10-02-2012, 01:39 PM
Congrats!!! And, great on getting a call and finishing in the spot you did!!

Cooking at a comp is much different than at home. I learned that 2 weeks ago.

I agree 100% in that there are a bunch of really great folks in this!


10-03-2012, 12:41 AM
Congrats on your first contest. Hope you had fun. Getting a call the first time out is great - we barely avoided getting DQ'd in our first contest :icon_smile_tongue:

It's 190 on the pork for slicing, by the way. 180 will be kinda tough.

I am heading to Kansas City for the Royal, but Greenfield, MA has a comp coming up if you want to try again. That is probably the last one in the northeast until May.

Check the NEBS schedule ( nebs.org ) for contests early next year. The area KCBS certified judging classes will be on there too - highly recommended to know what they are telling judges. We try to judge at least once a year.

10-03-2012, 08:03 AM
Unfortunately prior commitments preclude me from going to Greenfield this weekend, but will have the winter to practice up and set a schedule for next season

10-03-2012, 08:33 AM
I would like to extend a thanks...Chris from ZBQ who gave me the nudge through this site to actually enter, then to Sledneck who organized the class I took earlier this year where he brought in Joe of Tippy Canoe and Ryan of Big Tz...

You are quite welcome, but you forgot to pester Tim with questions and let Stubborn Bull grab their first GC! :icon_shock1:

Sounds like a good class. At least Sledneck wasn't teaching ribs. :becky: