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palehorse
04-30-2013, 09:49 AM
Good Spring all...and hope to those for whom it isnít, yet.

In June I am competing in a small local, but KCBS sanctioned competition. Most of the judges are KCBS, and this event is used to prepare lesser teams for bigger events, here on the West Coast.

My question is can you venture away from typical Kansas City Barbecue recipes to provide a different palate for the judges, and still hope to place well in the standings? How subjective is the judging?

In my research here, when it comes to brisket and chicken, there is an almost holy grail of what the judges are looking for, with little deviation. But in my prep, I came across a way to cook Spare Ribs in a blackberry-jalapeno based BBQ sauce. Not your standard fare, to be sure. Can a deviation like this prove positive?

I'm not asking ultimately if it's good or not, that's much too subjective. I'm only asking if it's common, and profitable to think outside the box when it comes to competition.

I will say, I did a Carolina BBQ sauce last year, and it didn't go over well. My gut says too much creativity is a harbinger of bad things to come, but there's wisdom in numbers. Play it safe, to greater success or Go Big! ...

Perhaps I should have made this a poll...:mrgreen:

CivilWarBBQ
04-30-2013, 09:54 AM
Sadly, KCBS judges are looking for a specific flavor profile in a fairly narrow range. The more experience a judge has, the more they hone in on this "winning recipe". If you stray too far from this mark, you will be punished for your originality, as you saw when you tried the vinegar approach last year.

big matt
04-30-2013, 09:57 AM
Yep keep it simple..blackberry based sauce is good and I used to use it when I first started(on chicken)as soon as I switched scores improved..can I ask what event it is your talking about?..what date and location?

DUBBAGA
04-30-2013, 10:17 AM
..can I ask what event it is your talking about?..what date and location?

Based on being a small local competition, my guess is either the CA Honey Harvest Festival in Fillmore (although some big teams are going there, so it might not be "small" enough), or the Burnt Offerings BBQ Invitational in Riverside (not on KCBS website, it isn't a full 4-meat contest, but affiliated with KCBS)

big matt
04-30-2013, 10:27 AM
Based on being a small local competition, my guess is either the CA Honey Harvest Festival in Fillmore (although some big teams are going there, so it might not be "small" enough), or the Burnt Offerings BBQ Invitational in Riverside (not on KCBS website, it isn't a full 4-meat contest, but affiliated with KCBS)

Yeah the Honey Harvest isn't going to be small..it's location is going to draw teams from both north and south..wouldn't be shocked to see 40+ at that event..the OP stated it was full KCBS and if it is we just might be there too.

Bigmista
04-30-2013, 10:35 AM
Originality kills. Take it from Mr. Raspberry.

ButchB
04-30-2013, 10:36 AM
Sadly, KCBS judges are looking for a specific flavor profile in a fairly narrow range. The more experience a judge has, the more they hone in on this "winning recipe". If you stray too far from this mark, you will be punished for your originality, as you saw when you tried the vinegar approach last year.

Man i'd love to have that "winning recipe"!

palehorse
04-30-2013, 11:28 AM
Indeed it is the Burnt Offerings Invitational. I recognize that it isn't a certified contest, but it's moving that direction as I understand it. It's slowly growing. There is a certified judges class to prep everyone in a couple of weeks.

Knowing that there is a 'standard', will keep me from chasing rainbows, at least for competition.

So, who wants to come over this weekend, I've got some blackberries and jalapeños I have to use now.

__________
EDIT: I do believe now that it is a licensed event, not sanctioned.

Lake Dogs
04-30-2013, 11:40 AM
I've judged a few contests over the years... What they say above is accurate, but to an extent. Originality can be rewarded, BUT it still must fit into that narrow window, the one that's not too offensive to this person or that person. For example, vinegar is an acquired taste, so I would never expect everyone at any table to jump on a vinegar sauce thinking how wonderful it is... Same with any spice. Same with anything tart or overly sweet. I'd argue that the rasberry over-tarted some of the audience...

Seasoned judges LIKE something different. Mind you, the appearance still needs to say "THOU MUST EAT ME RIGHT NOW", and the tenderness must hit nirvana as the sanctioning body defines nirvana, but the taste, as long as it doesn't hit one of the "terrible too's" can and hopefully will be different, as long as it still tastes like BBQ of some sort, and as long as the wonderful taste doesnt mask the taste of the meat underneath; but actually enhances it.

Frankly, it's a very delicate balance to be had.

Might I suggest that rather trying the recipe at a competition that you try it on friends first, and have them do a side-by-side comparison and critique; your old/previous recipe vs. your new one. They'll love it (except the part where they cannot drink until the taste testing is complete). Have your own competition against yourself at home. Judges, are just people. Try to find someone that really likes a little food with their salt, and someone else who despises salty things. When these two folks agree on a winner, you have a winner!!!

bruno994
04-30-2013, 12:55 PM
Originality kills. Take it from Mr. Raspberry.
"I don't know what that taste is, but I damn sure can't get it out of my mouth."

big matt
04-30-2013, 01:22 PM
I've judged a few contests over the years... What they say above is accurate, but to an extent. Originality can be rewarded, BUT it still must fit into that narrow window, the one that's not too offensive to this person or that person. For example, vinegar is an acquired taste, so I would never expect everyone at any table to jump on a vinegar sauce thinking how wonderful it is... Same with any spice. Same with anything tart or overly sweet. I'd argue that the rasberry over-tarted some of the audience...

Seasoned judges LIKE something different. Mind you, the appearance still needs to say "THOU MUST EAT ME RIGHT NOW", and the tenderness must hit nirvana as the sanctioning body defines nirvana, but the taste, as long as it doesn't hit one of the "terrible too's" can and hopefully will be different, as long as it still tastes like BBQ of some sort, and as long as the wonderful taste doesnt mask the taste of the meat underneath; but actually enhances it.

Frankly, it's a very delicate balance to be had.

Might I suggest that rather trying the recipe at a competition that you try it on friends first, and have them do a side-by-side comparison and critique; your old/previous recipe vs. your new one. They'll love it (except the part where they cannot drink until the taste testing is complete). Have your own competition against yourself at home. Judges, are just people. Try to find someone that really likes a little food with their salt, and someone else who despises salty things. When these two folks agree on a winner, you have a winner!!!
This sums it up very well..like how you mention balance and that's exactly what I want to give the judges..smokey,salty,sweet,savory and spicy all wrapped into a nice marriage of flavor..good BBQ is good BBQ.

DUBBAGA
04-30-2013, 04:03 PM
Indeed it is the Burnt Offerings Invitational. I recognize that it isn't a certified contest, but it's moving that direction as I understand it. It's slowly growing. There is a certified judges class to prep everyone in a couple of weeks.

In that case, when judging if I taste jalapeno blackberry ribs, jalapeno blackberry chicken, jalapeno blackberry tri-tip and jalapeno blackberry bbq sauce I will know it came from a fellow Brethren

Podge
04-30-2013, 04:08 PM
Competition BBQ is a lot like blues music. Very narrowly defined, but a world of ways to achieve it. Go too far from the expected norm, it ain't BBQ and it ain't blues anymore.

palehorse
05-02-2013, 05:16 PM
In that case, when judging if I taste jalapeno blackberry ribs, jalapeno blackberry chicken, jalapeno blackberry tri-tip and jalapeno blackberry bbq sauce I will know it came from a fellow Brethren

Most excellent! When it's all said and done, I'd love to meet.