View Full Version : First KCBS comp, My exp,1st boxes & Mental Checklist

08-28-2013, 10:58 PM
This is my first thread since trolling these forums the past few months. I am big into cooking but never took my BBq'n too seriously untill early this summer when I got my EBC modd'ed it up and been smokin addicted since day 1 of havin it. Im a big hobbiest by nature and am competitive in most things I do so hey why not get into Competition BBQ... I though I had an idea of what it entailed so I figured why wait, might as well learn trial by fire what the competition world is all about. So I've got a little list of my first impressions of what the current competition scene is like through the eyes of a young rookie.

Comp: Blues Brews & Bbq , Birch Run,MI

-At the age of 22 and my gf/helper 21 we were definately the youngest team out there but no matter your age everyone is there doin what we love and that showed
-Dont be suprised if your first comp isnt gunna cost you less than $750.00 once its said and done
-Order your meat ahead of time or atleast have a game plan of where youre getting it and be picky!
-Pre prep as much as your rules allow you to, I only prepp'd my brisket doing 18 chicken thighs there was a hassle compared to at home in your kitchen
-MAKE A LIST, we had to make/send friends on multiple walmart runs for stupid things, like towels to put in the coolers to hold meats, socks for the womans feet (it got freezing at night), extra rags and foil, sanitizer etc.
-Organize your stuff in Bins, we made a serious effort to be organized where 1 bin was all things for cooking ingredient related, one for utensils and miscellanious, another for our personal snack stash etc, we had a dirty utensil/board bin, we had food coolers and drink coolers
-Everyone was SUPER helpful and you can tell there is a sense of satisfaction in helping out the new guys, that made the experience a blast where being the new guy sorta pays off at the end of the day!
-Dont be affraid to ask questions.... one of the top teams there "Big Brothers BBQ" were set up next to us and they answered a lot of my questions with the true intention of helping me succeed
-Get your stuff on early.... I learned the valuable lesson that its okay to let your meats rest for a few hours, better to be done early than late!
-get there with plenty of time to get all setup
-walk around and introduce yourself to teams, it's fun to talk shop about this addicting hobby with other enthusiasts, Friday night can be a blast if you put yourself out there!
-TRY to sleep if you can, but dont do what I did and pass out for 30 min and panic when I thought I over slept when I wanted to get my ribs on. Commit to staying up all night or getting a decent nap one or the other (falling in and out is dangerous for the mind lol)
-Set realistic goals. I wanted a call in atleast 1 category, others told me to just focus on not being DAL. I took some risks and cooked what I like and knew to be a risk in chicken and it bit me in the arse even though the honest critiques of other top teams was it was really good but a risk with the judges. Im super hard on myself but I learned to take my 17/31 overall finish as a positive sign that I must have done some things right... I had atleast one perfect score on all my entries from at least 1 judge at 5 diff tables so that told me I need to lock in my consistency.
-Try to box as even as possible...each of my boxes I had atleast 1 portion I was not at all happy with and it usually showed in my scores. Try to make sure no judge feels left out with the portion they receive
-When it comes to awards sit back relax and let your adrenaline take over as you hope to hear your team name called! What a rush it was, even after being up for 32 hours it sure as heck woke me up!
-oh yeah and don't forget to have fun!

Hopefully this helps some new teams out with what to expect going in through a new comers eyes. This also probably brought some of you back to the good ole days when you were new to the competition scene.

And now for some pics! (feel free to critique the boxes I didnt follow my game plan once it came time to box!)

22/31 Immediate afterthoughts: Sauce was a little gloopy, some were facing a different direction from one another. Was really dissapointed that this flavor profile didnt work out although I wasnt too happy with how they came out compared to my practice run they were dryer and saltier than usual.

14/31 Size of ribs were different and not cut evenly/straight, could have used a nice glossy finish

23/31 Money Muscle could have been cut cleaner. Not sure why i scored so low i had a 999 and 888 rest were 7's and 8's though


15/31 Uneven slices (my flat ripped in half with the grain as I put it on my board it overcooked a little) so thats why there are half slices. Shoulda sauced and put my burnt ends back on (I dont like the uniform "cubes" so I went with a more natural looking cut burnt end

Have a conversation piece at your camp, NO ONE walked by without wanting to comment about my knife holder or my Yoder haha

Injecting Butts

Gettin that final glaze on chicken and ribs

Brisket after resting 4 hours ^.^ I was really happy with its taste and tenderness though

The fat loot I had wished I went home with, but congrats "Smokin in the D"

Thanks for readin and lookin if you made it through the post. Sorry for the lengthy write up but man Im bit by the bug and cant wait to compete again ASAP!

Oh and story behind the team name as I feel there should be one. Is I along with my friends that were there helping me are fulltime 3d artists, designer/art directors hence the play on Pixel bc thats all we normally do is nerd out on computers all day :wacko:

Pigxel Perfect BBQ

08-28-2013, 11:04 PM
Congrats on surviving your first competition, Ben! You do realized that you are hooked now, right? :-D

I hope that you had time to meet some of the other teams and spend time talking with them. I have lots of friends who were at that competition and all of them are great folks!

Your list is great and should help a lot of folks who are just starting out. thanks for taking the time to write it up!

I hope that we have a chance to meet at a competition some day. We will be cooking in Plymouth, IN on 9/20 & 21 if you are going to be there. Look for Captain Ron's Brew-n-Que.

08-29-2013, 07:30 AM
Nice recap and pictures, thanks. I will toss my thoughts on your boxes out there, for what it may be worth. My usual disclaimer that scoring for apperance from a picture may be harsher than what you may get at the table, picture quality and time to study the picture may affect the score.

1: Chicken Quick score 8-Looks like chicken, decent color although a little uneven, not too much sauce, but the sauce is also spotty, a smoother finish will help the score. It looks like the chicken sits down in the parsley, if you have a tighter parsley bed so the meat stays on top will probably work better. This one is not bad but when the garnish overwhelms the meat it will cost.

2: Ribs Quick score 7, maybe 8-The ribs look good, nice color, not oversauced. The arrangement is a little erratic and the slices are a little uneven. That one bone in the front looks a lot smaller than the others, makes it a little odd looking.

3: Pork Quick score 7-The picture is a little dark, so it may be unfair to score it a 7 but the slices look rough, a little better knife work would help here. The chunks look good, with good color and nice mix of bark. Again the slices look like they are disappearing into the garnish in the back, I think you want to make sure the meat stands out.

4: Brisket Quick score 6-Maybe a little harsh to score it a 6 but it just doesn't look like a great box of brisket. You have a great smoke ring (which means nothing to me, as it is not supposed to factor in the score), but the slices look ragged and rough, and looking at the picture the right rear slice looks like it has sauce painted on? That just makes the box look odd. And the burnt ends you said you don't like the cubes, but many judges expect them to be evenly sized. Looking at the picture with the way the ends lay in the garnish it almost looks like an optical illusion that they are blurry, may be just my old eyes, lol.

I think you made a good start, and it won't take much for you to gain another point or 2 on appearance, just tweak a little and a little more care and you will have it. Good work, and good luck.

edit to add: Rereading your comments on the pictures, you already know some of the things I commented on to improve your scores so you will improve quickly.

Bbqin fool
08-29-2013, 08:19 AM
Great stuff! Yes you're bitten and what a great recap of events. Keep up the good work and good luck on your next competition!

08-29-2013, 08:33 AM
Congrats on the first comp!

08-29-2013, 09:11 AM
I'm sorry, but you'll start spending serious money from here on out!:wink:

08-29-2013, 09:46 AM
Thanks for the encouragement guys, makes me feel a little better about the money Im spending on competing haha. I already started looking at a enclosed trailers, ordering my signage, getting a stick burner to compliment what my pellet doesn't do well, and the list goes on! I'm disappointed I got started so late in the competition season though :-/ Now im scurrying around the web trying to find competitions that are feasible distance wise for me to go and compete in.

@Ron L , that one in Indiana being on the brink of doable and not 4 hrs isn't toooo bad but renting a uhaul again and trying to make it there Friday at a decent time is what I'm trying to figure out! Hope to meet you soon though sounds like we will be competing in the same circle.

@BignBurleyMan - I appreciate the honest feedback and you confirmed that some of my own opinions on things that looked off were indeed in need of fixing! Thanks for taking the time to critique my boxes

08-29-2013, 10:29 AM
Just a couple of comments. First of all, that is a great score and placing for a first contest and your boxes all look respectable. I think you self critique is pretty much spot on.

One reason for your pork score might be that your MM is overdone. If it is too mushy to cut cleanly, some of the judges are going to hit you on tenderness.

Brisket is clearly over cooked, so your flavor must have been pretty decent to score where you did. You might want to drain off most of the liquid when you put it in the cooler to keep it from continuing to braise.

Kave Dweller
08-29-2013, 01:15 PM
[QUOTE=PigxelPerfectBbq;2605919]Thanks for the encouragement guys, makes me feel a little better about the money Im spending on competing haha. I already started looking at a enclosed trailers, ordering my signage, getting a stick burner to compliment what my pellet doesn't do well, and the list goes on! I'm disappointed I got started so late in the competition season though :-/ Now im scurrying around the web trying to find competitions that are feasible distance wise for me to go and compete in.

Just means you have all winter to practice and be ready for spring

Pappy Q
08-29-2013, 01:47 PM
Looks like you've got a good start on this obsession. You might want to check out the "Friends of OBR" Facebook page. There's info on their about a class that will give you the info needed to take a big leap in competitions.

08-29-2013, 08:24 PM
@mikej - you hit the nail on the head the brisket went over and so did the pork the money muscle tasted great but got too soft to cut cleanly 1 piece crumbled pretty bad. I appreciate the advice and ill try to rest it without so much liquid next time for sure!

Kave dweller- you've got that right! Already can't wait for next spring

Pappy q- looks like a great class for a great cause win win. Also googled hiw long that drive is for me and its very doable within 5 hrs (a lot closer than I thought) I'm going to seriously consider signing up gunna tell the gf I found my Xmas gift for myself ^.^ a class like that would help me get to the next level a bit faster! Thanks for directing me there

08-29-2013, 08:42 PM
Love your t-shirts! Good start!!

08-29-2013, 09:45 PM
Glad you like the shirts here is our logo a bit easier to see! Just ordered a vinyl banner and some better shirts (those were homemade iron on and exacto knife cut haha)