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Jeff_in_KC
03-11-2006, 05:24 PM
Well, my first judging effort is in the books. Judged at North Kansas city today and it was an experience. Not all positive. I learned a few things. First off and what bothered me the most was that I now see the importance of getting as many CBJs as possible for contests. There was a guy near me who has judged a few times but between categories in our conversations, it became obvious that he had no idea how to judge BBQ as the KCBS teaches. One guy at the table I would have removed had I been a Contest Rep. The rep walked by and when the guy yawned, the rep asked him how he was and if he was asleep already. The guy replied in an annoyed tone of voice "Let's just get this show on the road already." Well hello McFly... the first turn in time isn't for another 15 minutes yet! Geez! And the woman on the other side of me... in the four categories, I bet she ate like two crackers and about a half bottle of water or less. Many times, I noticed she failed to cleanse her palate between samples. How can someone get a clear idea of a team's efforts when they've still got the taste from the team prior in their mouth??? I saw judges taking small bites out of their samples and moving on, scoring all six entries in a matter of five minutes or less and in some cases, they spent more time packing all the rest of the samples into their coolers than they did actually judging. I'm not kidding. As I considered each entry, I kept in mind all the money and effort I've spent in the last year and that many of these teams had done the same thing or more and that this is important as hell to them! I figured I owed it to the people I was judging to take my time and do it right. I was the last judge done at my table every time.

Sorry for the rant but it was what struck me about this contest. I don't mean to knock anyone specifically but dang people, come on! And I won't single out non-KCBS CBJs either because I noticed a few of them packing big coolers too! It would be my opinion (and granted I've only judged once) that KCBS forbid the removal of remaining samples and maybe things would get better. And it could be that it was just this contest or because it was the first contest of the year and everyone's pumped to eat Q. Don't get me wrong... if you are a judge who takes home Q after a contest judging, I don't have a problem with it if that's what you want to do. I would hope that everyone would at least not make it so apparent that they're hoarding leftovers.

Anyway, I don't know if it was rust of a long winter or what but there were some bad samples and a few really good ones that stood out. I had one chicken that stood out head and shoulders above the others. There was one that was all white meat sliced, one legs and white meat sliced and one thighs with white meat sliced. The white meat in all instances was good and moist but not really outstanding in flavor.

Ribs... not a one really impressed me. The two that scored the best for appearance were really not good tender-wise or in flavor. One was LOADED with black pepper and dry. The other was undercooked and loaded with sauce. There was four babyback entries, a St. Louis spare entry and well... one that was a full spare that I have no idea how they got six in a box! Three of the six I thought were over-sauced and masked the meat flavor.

Pork... well, I love pulled pork and I got myself in trouble here, eating practically all the samples I took! :lol: There were a couple of interesting ideas, including one that piled six little piles for their entry. A couple had cubed pieces with the pulled and one was all chunked. The pork scores were the best of all categories.

Brisket... Some good ones here but one was about a half inch thick (overcooked?) and one was my GAWD over-smoked! It was so bitter I could hardly eat it and when I can't eat Q, that's bad! It was the only one I gave a "3" to of all entries in all categories. All but one entry included sliced and burnt ends (or at least cubed point). There was one stand-out brisket that I gave 999 to.

Afterwards, I stuck around and helped clean up tables, put away tray stands and fold chairs, got my judging record sheet signed by the rep and made like a tree...

So what did I learn? I learned of course the importance of taking your time, cleansing the palate and doing right by the teams I'm judging. I learned a few ideas for turn in boxes. I learned to discriminate between some really similar entry samples which I think will help me to determine subtle differences that can make or break an entry, mine or anyone's. I learned that whenever I judge, I will not only operate by KCBS code of ethics but also my own code of ethics that includes being sure, being last to turn in my score card, never removing ANY BBQ samples from the judging area and always staying to help clean up afterwards.

One thing I noticed, at least at my table, there was really zero discussion of the samples after each round of judging so I wasn't able to ascertain what everyone thought. I did compare a bit with a guy next to me after the ribs. But no discussion and the Master CBJ at the other end of the table I thought would help some of us but he wasn't too talkative.

Another thing... I didn't see one single table captain sample any Q. Are they doing it elsewhere or what? Mine was a girl who worked WAY too hard to be able to take the time to eat any samples. I'm wondering about the validity of trying to put eight samples in a box. What do you all think? Anyone notice similar?

While part of it was frustrating and I wanted to be out cooking, I enjoyed the experience. I plan to judge another contest in May and maybe one late in the season. I think I'll try to do two or three a year, just to stay up with everything.

The_Kapn
03-11-2006, 05:38 PM
Good report Jeff.

TIM

Smoker
03-11-2006, 05:55 PM
Thanks Jeff

BrooklynQ
03-11-2006, 09:19 PM
I saw judges taking small bites out of their samples and moving on, scoring all six entries in a matter of five minutes or less

This is why a cook gets one shot with the judges. Either it impresses on that first bite or you're done. To me - as a cook - that's the most important lesson to learn.

Smoker
03-11-2006, 09:35 PM
I think it would be nice if like Jeff said, Judges are reminded how much time and money was spent by the competitors and to please put everything out of there minds and give the contestants 2 hours of their FOCUSED attention.

Sawdustguy
03-12-2006, 05:53 AM
Jeff I appreciate the insite as to what goes on in the judges area during a contest.

kickassbbq
03-12-2006, 06:51 AM
Thanks Jeff,
That experience is exactly why I personally feel it is a waste of my time and MONEY to compete. I know I smoke some average BBQ and maybe not as good as someone that competes, but how would a person know if that's the way it's judged? And, I think ALL contests are probably about the same in the judging issues.
I really do think comps are all about getting together and having fun. That's the most important thing!!!! The winners? Well, probably don't matter as long as everyone has a good time. I really think it is a toss of the coin and your story validates that for me.
I got 2 first place trophys at my first comp and the stuff I turned in was MARGINAL at best in my opinion. What the heck did everyone else turn in on that day? I am sure there was Q better than mine and they didn't win. What's the point?
I am smoking for my friends and family and catering jobs and those people always tell my it's the BEST Q they have ever had. Good enough for me.
If you want to party with a bunch of GREAT people that smoke, go to a comp and have some fun. They should give a trophy to everyone that attends. In MY opinion, those trophies just signify that a person attended and had some fun.
PARTY!!!!!!!!
Smoke On!!!!
ed

BrooklynQ
03-12-2006, 09:25 AM
Jeff.
I'm sorry you had a lousy experience, but it's not always like that. I found the judges at my first contest were extremely professional and took the job very seriously.

Here's some quotes about my first time....

The table captain opened each box of food and showed it to us to judge appearance. Once Jamie, our table captain said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is box number...." we all fell silent and started judging. Judges are not allowed to speak to each other while the food is being judged. We are not allowed to motion to each other or make faces either. Game face on! Just like a poker game.

I was impressed on how professional everyone was and how seriously we all took out duties.

and...

There was complete silence while we judged. I think we spent about 15 minutes eating and rating our each food category before we were all ready to discuss our decisions. Once all the score cards were submitted we'd critique each category asking, which one was best and which was worse, but no one compared scores.

No contest is perfect and you'll always find a couple of lousy judges, but in my experience, overall the judges do care and try their best.

You can read my whole post here...

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9079&highlight=inside+judge

Jeff_in_KC
03-12-2006, 09:37 AM
rob, it wasn't really lousy. That's kinda strong. I enjoyed myself and I know there was probably a majority of the judges there who did it right. I was at the back of the room with my back to most of the people there. But I figured that if there was two at my table who were not doing right by the cooks, there was probably one at each table. And when I say "doing right", I mean that they might just as easily give inflated scores incorrectly as they would bad scores. Either way, cooks would never really know exactly how they stacked up that day.

ChipotlePat
03-12-2006, 10:33 AM
Thanks Jeff, for that experience it is nice to find some one willing to tell there Experience at the jugging table.

Paola Greg
03-12-2006, 11:42 AM
Jeff, it was good to see you and Wayne this weekend. Thanks for the report on your judging experience, it is interesting. Concerning the scoring, here's a pic of my ribs, which one judge said was a 5 in apperance. Granted it's not the best I've done, and there should have been two more bones in the box beside the 6 to show more meat and less parsley, but a 5?
Oh well, the other 5 said it was 88889 :)

scottyd
03-12-2006, 12:13 PM
I just went to a judging school in marshalltown iowa last weekend and even at the table that my wife and I were at the other 4 people were not eating the cracker or drinking the water between the bbq samples. I don't know some things can be explained fifty times and some people just don't get it.

It's a Farkin crap shoot no matter where your at. Your at the mercy of the judges and thats that. Live with it, cause that's how it is.

Scotty d

Jeff_in_KC
03-12-2006, 12:28 PM
Greg, no way in heck is that a 5 on appearance. That looks better than any of the ones we got at our table. do you have pictures of the other three categories you can share?

Paola Greg
03-12-2006, 12:50 PM
Well Jeff, I'm not very proud of the skinless thighs, and the judges weren't impressed either, (in apperance, taste or tenderness); but here it is. My camera batteries went dead and I didn't get a shot of the pork or brisket.

Jeff_in_KC
03-12-2006, 05:01 PM
Wow! Nine thighs in a box! You filled that sucker, Greg! Maybe the different sizes of thighs hurt? I dunno. I can tell you that your chicken didn't end up on our table either.

BTW Greg, I saw the Clones won and Bare Bones took reserve. Who else finished in the top ten and in categories? How'd you place?

Paola Greg
03-12-2006, 05:17 PM
BTW Greg, I saw the Clones won and Bare Bones took reserve. Who else finished in the top ten and in categories? How'd you place?
Don't know Jeff, we didn't get any score sheets, they say the results will be posted tomorrow.

HoDeDo
03-12-2006, 09:29 PM
I just went to a judging school in marshalltown iowa last weekend and even at the table that my wife and I were at the other 4 people were not eating the cracker or drinking the water between the bbq samples. I don't know some things can be explained fifty times and some people just don't get it.

It's a Farkin crap shoot no matter where your at. Your at the mercy of the judges and thats that. Live with it, cause that's how it is.

Scotty d

It is a crap shoot -- which is why it works.... some teams get called out on a regular basis. They must have something that all the judges - serious ones, and lay folk, like. I love trying to figure out what the heck that is. I have some contests I do well at, and some I do horrible at - so I am getting a swath of taste buds... now to just figure out how to get them all... guess that is alot of 30 packs, tequila gallons, and many many more stories down the road :wink: Game on!

Bigmista
03-12-2006, 11:37 PM
I hope I get a table full of Jeff's in my first comp next month.

Doorbusters
03-13-2006, 07:46 AM
Jeff, that is exactly the reason I did not attempt to judge again this year. After last years debacle, it was evident to me to just stay home. If you were like me, I was the only one at my table without a cooler! Maybe some one will forward your report before we all start competing!

MoKanMeathead
03-13-2006, 08:05 AM
Greg and Jeff good to see you guys Friday - and Greg thatks for the beers. It was grest seeing everyone again..and to meet Steve (Yankee BBQ).

I am sort of curious why some of you seem to think that it is a sin for a judge to take home leftovers. The alternative is it throw it out. A judge could not eat all of the meat that is presented to them. When I judge I usually only take 1 or 2 bites of each sample.

Good report Jeff. If I had to choose between a KCBS certified judge and someone who cooks on a team that may not be certified, I would take the cook everytime.

Oh and Greg - WHY are you messing with your chicken! If I were you I would cook them exactly like you did at Laurie last year.

Paola Greg
03-13-2006, 12:51 PM
Oh and Greg - WHY are you messing with your chicken! If I were you I would cook them exactly like you did at Laurie last year.
Wayne, after Laurie, I wondered if it wasn't just a fluke there. Cooked them the same after that with little success at our last 3 contests after Laurie. So I experimented this winter and practiced lots with the skinless thighs. I'll probably stay with the current way for 2 more contests, then make a decision.

Jeff_in_KC
03-13-2006, 01:19 PM
Greg and Jeff good to see you guys Friday - and Greg thatks for the beers. It was grest seeing everyone again..and to meet Steve (Yankee BBQ).

Absolutely, Wayne! It's good to start seeing everyone again! While the winter hasn't been difficult, it has been looooong!

I am sort of curious why some of you seem to think that it is a sin for a judge to take home leftovers. The alternative is it throw it out. A judge could not eat all of the meat that is presented to them. When I judge I usually only take 1 or 2 bites of each sample.

Wayne, I don't think taking it home is a sin so to speak. Myself, I cook enough, have enough in the freezer and so forth that I personally don't feel the need to take it home. My objection was the feeling I got was that there were more than a few there who were there to eat BBQ and hoard it to take home and not fairly judge for the teams. In short, I got the feeling that their motives weren't all in the right place.

Good report Jeff. If I had to choose between a KCBS certified judge and someone who cooks on a team that may not be certified, I would take the cook everytime..

Thanks Wayne and I absolutely agree about prefering someone who cooked being in the judging tent, regardless of CBJ status. I believe I could have done as good a job as I did and not have been certified to do it because I cook and have at least gotten in a few contests and I know the rules. The main reason I got certified was to 1. Hear what KCBS is telling the judges and see what their reactions and questions were to help me in my turn-ins and 2. so that I could learn the process inside the judging area and feel comfortable going in and judging a contest myself and not feel like an idiot as things started progressing.

willkat98
03-14-2006, 10:10 PM
Was WSM there?

Wonder what his impression was about people packing food away.

Sawdustguy
03-14-2006, 10:59 PM
Thanks Jeff,
That experience is exactly why I personally feel it is a waste of my time and MONEY to compete. I know I smoke some average BBQ and maybe not as good as someone that competes, but how would a person know if that's the way it's judged? And, I think ALL contests are probably about the same in the judging issues.
I really do think comps are all about getting together and having fun. That's the most important thing!!!! The winners? Well, probably don't matter as long as everyone has a good time. I really think it is a toss of the coin and your story validates that for me.
I got 2 first place trophys at my first comp and the stuff I turned in was MARGINAL at best in my opinion. What the heck did everyone else turn in on that day? I am sure there was Q better than mine and they didn't win. What's the point?
I am smoking for my friends and family and catering jobs and those people always tell my it's the BEST Q they have ever had. Good enough for me.
If you want to party with a bunch of GREAT people that smoke, go to a comp and have some fun. They should give a trophy to everyone that attends. In MY opinion, those trophies just signify that a person attended and had some fun.
PARTY!!!!!!!!
Smoke On!!!!
ed
Ya know, isn't it funny how the better teams, with the better product always seem to come out on top, no matter what. Lets face it, we are human beings making subjective decisions. It ain't ever gonna be perfect. Sure there is the element of luck involved in drawing a table that may score a little bit higher. Face it, we are all not robots. Actually after thinking about it. I like the way it is right now because gives a new team hope when competing against the big boys because on any given day, they have a chance to win a catagory, maybe not the grand championship, but a single catagory. If that wasn't true the sport would be devoid of newcomers.

midnight
03-15-2006, 12:24 AM
I have judged at the Minnesota in May contest on two seperate occasions. The rule on leftovers there is that you can keep the piece of meat that you actualy judged if you want, but all "leftovers" in the box get put on a table in the back of the judging area. After the entire contest is over anyone who wishes can go and load up on the leftovers, but not untill all judging is over. This allows the judges to concentrate on thier work and not worry about if they will get any leftovers. It also allows you to taste more than just the 6 entries you judged at your table.
I don't think table capt. are allowed to taste any of the entries untill after the judging. Many of the table capt. were spouses of people cooking and therefore not allowed to judge.

I agree with you about people not talking enough about the entries after the judging. I try to encourage everyone at my table to offer up thier thoughts on the good and the bad entries especialy if there are non certified judges at the table.

Jeff_in_KC
05-23-2006, 01:46 PM
I stopped by the KCBS headquarters to see about getting some new membership stickers, including the oval "BBQ" ones. Anyway, as I was going up to the building, Ed Roith was coming out and so I took the opportunity to a.) tell him about the Brethren site (which he seemed interested in) and b.) get his feelings on this topic of some judges seemingly being there only to take home barbeque. He told me that he's called people on doing things like that before. And the example he gave was of a woman who was starting to cooler her samples as he walked by and a piece of chicken didn't even appear to have been tasted yet she scored the sample. He asked her about it and she turned over the chicken to show her bite. According to Ed, it was so tiny you could barely see it. How does one get a fair assessment of a team's product when things like that are going on? I wish I had the answer. I wish ANYONE had the answer. :roll: So then I go buy ten farking pounds of thighs for the thigh contest this weekend hoping that someone digs in and loves it rather than nibbling a tiny little piece off the back side...

Ed, if you found your way here to our neck of the woods, I appreciate the time you took this morning to relate your experiences and feeling about the subject!

BrooklynQ
05-23-2006, 02:19 PM
He asked her about it and she turned over the chicken to show her bite. According to Ed, it was so tiny you could barely see it. How does one get a fair assessment of a team's product when things like that are going on? I wish I had the answer. I wish ANYONE had the answer.

I don't have the answer Jeff, but in the judging class and at the contests, the judges are instructed to limit their food intake so that they can get through all the categories. This may be contributing to the problem.

Maybe judges should only judge two categories instead of all four. Maybe then they'd take human bites and really taste the food.

Also, this just confirms that you only have one chance to wow the judges. If your Q doesn't blow them over in the first "little" bite, forget about it.

ModelMaker
05-24-2006, 08:11 AM
I just went to a judging school in marshalltown iowa last weekend and even at the table that my wife and I were at the other 4 people were not eating the cracker or drinking the water between the bbq samples. I don't know some things can be explained fifty times and some people just don't get it.

It's a Farkin crap shoot no matter where your at. Your at the mercy of the judges and thats that. Live with it, cause that's how it is.

Scotty d

Scotty, I beleive I was one of the other four at your table. As far as eating crackers and drinking water, that issue was never properly addressed by Mr.Lake as being of such importance. While I nibbled on a few crackers here and there I did have what I thought was a enough drinks between samples. You made it sound like the rest of the table was not up to your level of perfection! I have eaten plenty of BBQ over my years and was more intent on listening to what was being requested of me rather than my action at the table.
All of the concerns presented here hopefully will only make me a better judge.
As far as sample grabbers, the three contests that I have been accepted for this spring are all not allowing any samples to be coolered. It looks like it will become a trend between KCBS and organizers in IA.
And Scotty thanks for telling me about this group, it has provided a huge amount of info into the minds of the cooks as well as being a great place to hang out occasionally.
Just lighten up a pinch. If our paths ever cross again rest assured your sample as well as everybody elses will get my total best effort.
ModelMaker