View Full Version : How to start on entry level...needs help please

03-08-2013, 08:11 AM
Just wondering...how a new BBQ "enthusiast" like me could enter a competition. I know i would have to start on a "backyard" level, but how could i find it out what would be the necessary item to bring with me, with out being ridiculed, laugh it. Sure don't want to stick out like a sore thumb. Or it is advisable to just go and walk around at first as a spectator? How people gets involved on the very beginning? I seen husband and wife teams, friends together...how do you start this great challenge? have purchased a nice smoker so i that would give it a try. I would really=really appreciate some feedback, some pointers and with some luck i maybe even see you one day by the judge's table. The ...Smiling Pig

03-08-2013, 08:22 AM
Take a judging class and judge a few contest. Visit the contest the night before you judge and talk to any teams that will chat with you. Then just go for it. You do not need to start backyard. As for what you need you can go as elaborate or simple as you want. My set up is my smoker two e-z ups and a table plus coolers and knives of course. Good luck and have fun. Keith

03-08-2013, 08:25 AM
This is a nice guide....
Startin' the Fire: George W. Hensler: 9781890689148: Amazon.com: Books
from one of the members here.
There is a lot to read here also.

03-08-2013, 08:27 AM
We started cold turkey. There are no contests really close to us, and I had never been to one, so we just showed up. Most folks are willing to give a few pointers to new teams, and most of the folks we've come across are really good people. Personally if you have the capacity on your cooker, I would skip the backyard. It is a struggle at first, but its lots of fun. After a few contests, you will start to see what works and what doesn't. We are still in the early learning phase, but I can't imagine anything helping like actually getting out there and doing it. That being said, mobow is right, do a judging class if you can. Also, spend time digging through this site, there is tons of info to help you get started.

Edit: +1 on Startin the Fire. Its a quick, entertaining read that gives you a base of how to prepare for your first one.

03-08-2013, 08:53 AM
step 1) cook bbq
step 2) put it in box

there are many, many, many, threads on here detailing every aspect of competition, from necessary equipment to unnecessary equipment to cooking the food. most of all enjoy the good times.

i resourced materials and researched on here for @ 8 months solid before my first. it was in fact an amatuer event. i did it because no entry fee. i wanted to be sure i'd enjoy it before laying out fees. i took a 2nd place pork, and 3rd overall. worst thing that ever happened to me. :-D

03-08-2013, 09:04 AM
First, you have to find out if cooking competitions is something you will enjoy. It's not for everyone. Visiting a competition is a good start. Check this section of the Brethren for Roll Call threads for a competition close to you and visit the Brethren teams. They'll be glad to help as long as you respect their time.

Also, post in the Mentoring section (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=49) to see if there is a team near you who is willing to have you tag along with them for a competition.

George's book as suggested above is also an excellent reference.

If you decide to go beyond the backyard comps you'll need to decide if you want to try FBA sanctioned comps or KCBS sanctioned comps. The rules may differ.

Finally, what type of smoker did you buy?

03-08-2013, 09:45 AM
I'm still a rookie too but I've cooked a couple of contests. Just do a little research and a practice cook or 2 and go for it. It's a lot of fun. Keep your expectations reasonable and it will be more fun. My first contest my goal was to not come in last, next contest my goal was to be in the middle of the pack. I was successful on both weekends. It's just my wife and I so it gets pretty busy but that's part of the fun. I say go for it and have fun!

03-08-2013, 09:54 AM
I started by just jumping into the fire. Our first Comp was at the Royal last year - talk about thinking you were pretty good at baseball and then trying to stand in against a Nolan Ryan fastball!

We had a blast. There was one team near us that helped a bit, but our goal was A) Not finish last, and I wanted to B) finish middle of the pack on my turn ins. We didn't finish last in any category, and finished well in the top half in brisket. Now, we're not going to be out there every weekend, by any means, but we will be taking part in comp no. 2 next weekend, and we're more excited than we were for the Royal.

Good Luck!

03-08-2013, 09:55 AM
Its way too expensive to just wing it, meat alone isnt cheap, then fees then beverages, lol...

Anyway, you need to learn the rules of the sanctioning body you are cooking then cook the meats and make your timeline, detail everything.

do practice cooks, all meats and making boxes, add to your timeline.
Anything you take from the house write down your list of packing.

if after all this you still thing its fun then go for it...

03-08-2013, 10:04 AM
We started with our cookers, a tent to sleep in, a backyard canopy, a table, a box or two with 'stuff' and coolers. You can't get any easier than that.

McEvoy AZ
03-08-2013, 10:31 AM
Read the rules.

Do a practice run and record your times, so you can set your first goal of making all the turn in on time.

Make a list of everything you need to take. (the less you can get away not taking the better) Use this list when packing.

Do all the prep the rules let you before you go to the comp, so you can relax and make freinds during the comp. Many teams will give you clues on how to get better.

Make yourself scedule that you follow based off your practice run. I have many times changed my plan at the comp and so far it has always hurt my product.

Don't forget, 1st goal is to make turn in times only, your next comps set the goal of improving your product.

Like I said most teams are willing to give you clues, like what is the base rub and base sauce the top teams are using. Most teams will eventually learn to tweek these items, but at first concentrate on finding out what these baseline items are and use.

Always have fun. It is why you are doing this in the first place

03-08-2013, 10:31 AM
Thinking about this thread... If I were a new guy, and visited a hot july contest, and saw how miserable people were, I'd probably not do it.

03-08-2013, 10:46 AM
Check out flbbq.org, that is the Florida BBQ association website to locate the next contest that is occurring and plan on attending. Also, check to see when the next judges class is being given.
Before I became a judge I had ambitions to cook a contest however, after helping Sledneck at a comp in fall of '08 I determined that it was not for me. I have since found my way to judging here in Florida and still get to meet all the fine people associated with the hobby/sport.

Good Luck

Big George's BBQ
03-08-2013, 11:26 AM
Lots of great suggestions. George;'s book, mentoring and a judges class- all worth while things. If there is a contest near you post a request to join with a team sio you can learn. You will never have everything you need for the first event. Teams love to talk and teach so go listen and ask questions- just not during turn ins. You can not get into it thinking you will make money or make back money spent because most likely you will not this is an expesive hobby Lots of fun but costly

03-08-2013, 11:35 AM
I really thank ALL of you who take the time and replied to my query. You guys all a bunch fine group of people. This is what this great nation is all about. This is the reason even in this economically bad times still everyone would like to come here. To help one an other unconditionally. Even if one day i would be your competitor still giving some pointers, what direction to move for as a beginner. On the other hand i do own a fine fully insulated cooker already, just didn't had the clue how to start to attend to competitions. All of that cold turkey responses sounded real nice. The first try always the hardest of course. So not to became last for the first achievement.Now that is what i will look forward to, that is a great inspiration. And just have fun right? Thank you all....

Kave Dweller
03-08-2013, 12:41 PM
We found a competition close to home, read the rules and did a practice run couple weekends before with real turn in times and then went and did it. we learned so much the first one I think it was a great trial by fire. Ended up doing 2 more, now we are working backwards and taking classes for judging and comp bbq classes. Its fun, bunch of great people out there, I would suggest finding a competition and just doing it, no regrets here.

03-08-2013, 01:28 PM
This link will point you to a lot of good information http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13677