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SV_smoker
12-03-2012, 07:02 AM
I am going to start competing in bbq competitions and would like to get some help and suggestions on where to begin.

What kind of equipment do I need? Where can I go to find where the competitions are being held? etc.

hogzgonewild
12-03-2012, 07:16 AM
Best place to look for competitions is on KCBS.us website, or google search MBN, FBA, or SBN.

Most competitors start out with a 10' EZ-Up tent, a few fold up tables, some bins for dish washing, and whatever smoker you prefer. There are competitors using UDS's, WSM's, Offset smokers, and Gravity feds. Pretty much anything you can dream of, someone is competing with it!

rksylves
12-03-2012, 07:32 AM
I would strongly recommend going to an event for the first time just as a spectator. Go on Friday afternoon if you can as the teams are usually much less busy. Walk around and introduce yourself to some of the teams and let them know that you are interested in competing. You will get boatloads of information.

If you're REALLY lucky you might even get to 'shadow' a team during the comp if the lead cook is a really great person.

Russ

Lake Dogs
12-03-2012, 07:33 AM
+1 what hogz said above.

SV, know first-off that not all BBQ contests are created equal. There are unsanctioned
(often called "back yard") contests, and sanctioned contests. Generally, for the "back yard" contests that aren't hosted by a sanctioning body, most anything goes. You'll see rib only contests, butt only contests, some supply the meats, little or no standards and very few if any judges are trained. Sanctioning bodies are not created equal either. There are different levels of judge training, some not trained much and others go through a fairly rigorous training and must judge many contests before becoming certified. Different meats too. KCBS, having the largest number of contests, does chicken, brisket, pork ribs, and pork butt, on 30 minute turn-in windows, allowing certain garnish, single blind-judged turn-in for each category. Contrast to MBN, which does pork ribs, whole pork shoulder [picnic and butt still joined], and whole hog, with a blind turn-in for each with no garnish, plus 3 independent on-site visits by a judge for each, and then if you make finals you'll get another visit from 4 judges on-site at one time...

My point is this: choose a few contests that you think you'd like to compete in, and
then get to know their sanctioning body. The equipment required/need varies greatly
between them; cookers too. KCBS you'll be cooking a fairly small amount of meat compared to some others, so you'll see very competitive guys cooking on 2 or 3 WSM's, XL BGE's, etc. It's tough to cook a whole hog on a WSM or BGE, so you wont
see many of these types of smokers in MBN cookoffs, perhaps only for someone doing
ribs only, and then you'll see multiples, because most cook 12 - 15 racks for MBN...

+1 what Russ said above too. This may not sound worthy, but trust me it comes from experience. IF you can, see if you cant judge a competition or two. I promise, a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case not only the picture, but understanding how you're BBQ will be judged, and getting an idea of the level of competition really, REALLY helps. Also understanding who is judging your BBQ plays in to it, because that BBQ that tastes great to you and your buddies late in the evening after having not eaten in a while and after a few brews doesnt tend to work very well in competitions where the judges average age is probably 55, they're judging fairly early in the day, after having recently had coffee and orange juice and perhaps a sausage biscuit or two (and they're stone cold sober).

Good luck!!!

que_dawg
12-03-2012, 07:48 AM
Your best bet, IMHO, would be to start out and cook at least 1 backyard comp at a KCBS sanctioned event. The investment will be minimal enough that you can enjoy the surroundings and spend some time mingling with other teams without being overwhelmed. It would be better to get down your timing and see how things work. Of course, after this you will be hooked, you will be spending all of your time on the Brethren site reading the competition forum (if you already aren't) and making a list of all of the comps you want to do throughout the rest of the year.

bmonkman
12-03-2012, 10:52 AM
A good first palce to go when you are researching is the sticky at the top of the Competition Forum here titled KCquers ROADMAP to the COMPETITION Forum (AKA our FAQs).

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13677 (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13677)

You will find it answers the majority of your questions.

Brian

sdbbq1234
12-03-2012, 06:47 PM
+1 what hogz said above.

SV, know first-off that not all BBQ contests are created equal. There are unsanctioned
(often called "back yard") contests, and sanctioned contests. Generally, for the "back yard" contests that aren't hosted by a sanctioning body, most anything goes. You'll see rib only contests, butt only contests, some supply the meats, little or no standards and very few if any judges are trained. Sanctioning bodies are not created equal either. There are different levels of judge training, some not trained much and others go through a fairly rigorous training and must judge many contests before becoming certified. Different meats too. KCBS, having the largest number of contests, does chicken, brisket, pork ribs, and pork butt, on 30 minute turn-in windows, allowing certain garnish, single blind-judged turn-in for each category. Contrast to MBN, which does pork ribs, whole pork shoulder [picnic and butt still joined], and whole hog, with a blind turn-in for each with no garnish, plus 3 independent on-site visits by a judge for each, and then if you make finals you'll get another visit from 4 judges on-site at one time...

My point is this: choose a few contests that you think you'd like to compete in, and
then get to know their sanctioning body. The equipment required/need varies greatly
between them; cookers too. KCBS you'll be cooking a fairly small amount of meat compared to some others, so you'll see very competitive guys cooking on 2 or 3 WSM's, XL BGE's, etc. It's tough to cook a whole hog on a WSM or BGE, so you wont
see many of these types of smokers in MBN cookoffs, perhaps only for someone doing
ribs only, and then you'll see multiples, because most cook 12 - 15 racks for MBN...

+1 what Russ said above too. This may not sound worthy, but trust me it comes from experience. IF you can, see if you cant judge a competition or two. I promise, a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case not only the picture, but understanding how you're BBQ will be judged, and getting an idea of the level of competition really, REALLY helps. Also understanding who is judging your BBQ plays in to it, because that BBQ that tastes great to you and your buddies late in the evening after having not eaten in a while and after a few brews doesnt tend to work very well in competitions where the judges average age is probably 55, they're judging fairly early in the day, after having recently had coffee and orange juice and perhaps a sausage biscuit or two (and they're stone cold sober).

Good luck!!!

+1 or 2, etc...

Going to a few comps and talking with the teams on Friday will provide a world of valuable information! You will also learn a lot from seeing the set-ups folks use.

If possible, judge a few comps.

It is more than worth the while.

wallace

chad
12-03-2012, 07:04 PM
Or do like I did, fly to NY, compete in NJ, fly home, compete in a state contest...never did backyard division. Read all you can, but go to a few contests. Look for Brethren teams and introduce yourself. We're all over and usually have shirts or banner proclaiming the pig. Good luck.

kenthanson
12-03-2012, 10:04 PM
In my opinion the very first thing you should do is take a certified bbq judge(CBJ) course and judge a competition. A lot of guys rag on the whole CBJ system "just cause a guy paid $50 bucks he thinks he knows what bbq is" and "watch out for guys who bring coolers, there just here for a free lunch", but as a competitor starting out its invaluable to know what you are going to be judged on. Things like what will get a box DQ'd on appearance and how many of what you need in each box you would learn somewhere else, but to have a experienced judge show you a box and explain exactly why it is like that is worth it. Than judge a contest and see what flavors teams are using and styles of meat they turning in ie: pork= pulled, chopped or sliced.

Lake Dogs
12-04-2012, 10:32 AM
Everything said above will not only help you get going, but hopefully help you be competitive, because nobody wants to spend the money and make the investment in time, effort, etc. to finish D.A.L.

I'm reminded of the last time I competed (these past few years haven't been kind to us, wife has been in and out of hospitals, etc.) a few years ago, was an MBN competition with more than a few top teams in the nation in attendance. The team next to me were young, in their mid-20's, never so much as seen a BBQ competition, much less had any idea what an MBN competition involved. Set up is fairly involved, with on-site preparation and all... They'd gotten in fairly early Friday, set up, and then watched as the big rigs rolled in. They were in awe. Mid-day we'd finally gotten
all in and started to relax a little, I walked over a few beers to they guys. Oh my gosh. Luckily for them they were only in ribs. They had one small brinkmann el-cheapo offset and 1 table for them to prep the ribs. Nothing for judges. They were only planning to cook 2 slabs. They were confused why I had a whole case, and I explained the on-site judging, finals, etc. They were like deer in the headlights.

Long story, but the short version is that we helped them as much as we could afford,
and the team on the other side helped them too, but they finished D.A.L. with flying colors, I'm talking by a LONG shot, and they've never been back... Sad.

Enjoy it, competing is very fun if you like competitions. But, be prepared.

CBQ
12-04-2012, 12:21 PM
Sooner or later, someone will also recommend this:

Startin' the Fire: George W. Hensler: 9781890689148: Amazon.com: Books

It's a good read. Doesn't contain any recipes, but covers pretty much everything else you need to know about starting a team.

wjwheeler
12-04-2012, 09:11 PM
Watch BBQ Pitmasters season 1 to get a good feel of competition BBQ. (over and over again)

sitnfat
12-05-2012, 01:13 PM
Study up as much as you can on competition cooking,here and books have a ton of info. In your area there are a lot of contests. I would find someone in the area that needs a runner or help on weekend and ask to help. You will get a lot of insite as to what goes on. Get there Friday to help all weekend. After that sign up for a sanctioned KCBS pro contest and have fun.