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Hozman
09-04-2013, 03:09 PM
This was our first year competing. We are just friends who do 4-6 comps. How do we compete with the big teams. We go to win or at least get our name called.

As you know this is not a cheap en devour so to spend the money on entry fees, meat, ect gets hard when you always see the same big name teams getting calls.

Our food has been in the top 25-35% which are happy with. Sadly to show up and see Pellet Envy, Truebud BBQ, ect makes me ask why?

So we have talked about not competing any more. So looking for thoughts from new teams as well as old teams with advise to push us on.

We enjoy getting together and hanging out with the other teams which have been great to us. Giving us tips and helping us.

kenthanson
09-04-2013, 03:16 PM
This was our first year competing. We are just friends who do 4-6 comps. How do we compete with the big teams. We go to win or at least get our name called.

We enjoy getting together and hanging out with the other teams which have been great to us.

Which is more important?

If we finished last place every comp we might not compete any more but riding middle of the road would be worth it just for the fun times had.

tigercc
09-04-2013, 03:17 PM
If I were you, I would take Pellet Envy's competition class. That should shorten your learning curve considerably.

Hawg Father of Seoul
09-04-2013, 03:41 PM
If the big boys are not there, who would you beat?

I don't give a damn about beating chumps, I want to hurt the feelings of the best out there.

Hawg Father of Seoul
09-04-2013, 03:47 PM
BTW if Pellet Envy is the one taking your entry fee, I would never give him the satisfaction of taking his class. Rod is a great guy, but come on. Do you really want to make the guys you FINALLY beat feel like they helped you win.

Stoke&Smoke
09-04-2013, 04:05 PM
BTW if Pellet Envy is the one taking your entry fee, I would never give him the satisfaction of taking his class. Rod is a great guy, but come on. Do you really want to make the guys you FINALLY beat feel like they helped you win.

Um, if they help you win? Why not?

ewchippe
09-04-2013, 04:09 PM
I have a little different attitude with it. I want the big boys there. When I win (If that ever happens), I want to have all the big teams there watch me walk up there and hear them talk about who this chump is.

Alexa RnQ
09-04-2013, 04:11 PM
Every "name" team was a new team once. Four categories cooked to perfection on an unforgiving timeline in field conditions is a damned hard thing to pull together, and even the big names don't do it every single week. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

So you and your teammates need to take a serious look at your goals, and what you are willing to do to reach them. What do you do in between contests-- how often do you practice? And by practice, I mean practice together. At a rate of 4 - 6 contests per season, it's hard to make meaningful improvement. Are you willing to do what it takes to ramp up your practice and competition schedule? Are you willing to lay down the fee for a class? Are you willing to put in some mileage to hit contests in a different area?

I think everybody who has gotten a call will tell you that there's a lot more that goes into it than what you see on contest day. Getting clear about what your goals are will help you determine how much work you'll put in to get there. There's no shame in wanting to win, but it doesn't usually happen by just showing up to have a good time and waiting for lightning to strike. In that kind of field, it's more like going to war, in terms of preparation and a well-executed plan.

As to why -- that's different for everybody. Whether it's the enjoyment of the challenge, or of the camaraderie among teams, or the particular delight of beating a certain name on a given day, as long as you know what you want out of it and what you're willing to do to get there, you'll find that it's worth everything you put into it. That three hours of crunch time on turn-in day is like nothing else. It's what keeps us coming back over and over.

Fornia
09-04-2013, 04:27 PM
We're a relatively new/inexperienced team....and we specifically like comps where the 'big boys' are. Makes a call feel all the better. Might sound crazy....but NOTHING is a sure shot in the world of competition barbecue. On any given day....anything can happen.

But I'd highly suggest taking a top notch class, given by a top notch team/cook. I think you'd see improvements your first time out following the class. Based on where you've been....that improvement might be all you need to exceed your expectations.

Fat Freddy
09-04-2013, 04:35 PM
I have done 7 1/2 KCBS sanctioned contests(I cooked 2 categories at a Sams event for a buddy who needed help at last moment) 3 last year with 1 KCBS call and 4 1/2 with 9 KCBS calls. I cook on a 22 WSM and an 18 WSM.

If you are familiar with Iowa teams we have teams like Smokey D's, A boy and his BBQ, Big Tz Q Cru,Tippy Canoe, LuckysQ, Grills Gone Wild Iowa, Pigskin BBQ, Swine Assassins,Smokers Purgatory, etc etc etc. That is week in and week out. Throw in teams from other areas around here like Pork Patrol,True Bud,Quau, Shiggin and Grinnin etc etc etc and I would think that we have some of the toughest contests around.

I wanted to become competitive with these guys so I took a class(Cornfed Cookin) and cooked at the Frostbusters contest up here, set up like KCBS but after all judging was done we got to talk to CBJ's to see why they scored how they did. Our first contest out this year we had our rear ends handed to us. 2nd contest we got 2 calls, our very first 2 call contest, then Got a call at Sams, then at our next contest Mason City Iowa which is a pretty well known popular contest 66 teams this year 2 calls but a FIRST PLACE RIBS. Let me tell you what is cool when you do get a big call, for the most part at least for me it was those "big names" that were congratulating me more than anyone. I even got told by one of the "big names" that it is nice to see different names get the major calls. To finish our season at our last KCBS contest we got 4 calls.

I guess what I was trying to get at is even though we are a small team with basic equipment we can at our best hang with the "big names". What changed for us? I took the class and we changed our mindset. Instead of going there thinking "Oh chit look who is here" I decided it is more important to have fun and meet people. If it ever becomes only about winning then I need a new hobby, dont get me wrong getting a call and money is great but right now more than anything at all I want RESPECT. When I changed my entire thought process I relaxed, had more fun and thats when the calls started.

landarc
09-04-2013, 04:43 PM
Beating the big boys is going to be hard, many have sponsorships and arrangements to get the best meat available, they cook together a LOT. They are polished and focused on winning.

That being said, what Alexa said is true, how badly do you want to win? How much do you work as a team, to perfect your skills, timing and flavor profiles? Have you tasted enough winning BBQ to know what you are looking for? If those things don't apply, then like in sports, you need to ask, how badly do you really want to win?

Eggspert
09-04-2013, 04:46 PM
We know how you feel. We are a second year team we did 7 comps last year and will do 10 this year. Competition BBQ is insanely expensive and so much hard work it's crazy! Most weekends we compete against people who have won either the American Royal, The Jack, and/or are part of Big Poppa's Elite! So I know how you feel to be a little team against the Big teams.

Last year, we got at least one call at every competition we went to, which was thrilling, but it is hard to stay motivated. This winter we took a class and it helped us rise higher in the pack, now we have had 4 calls at the last 3 competitions! So taking a class definitely will help you.

I still consider us the underdog, but beating a top teams in a category or two or staying in line with them, for us it makes it worth it. We still have hope and the dream that eventually we might be one of those teams that other teams are worried about when we pull into a competition.

I also think it helps to set personal team goals, maybe you want to finish in the top 10 and get 2 calls. Then keep adjusting your goals as you improve!

BBQ is a crazy, silly and addicting passion! If you don't love it and it's not all you think about then choose a different hobby or BBQ in your backyard. I guarantee that the BBQ is constantly on the minds of the top teams or at least was for many years. Most competition teams do it weekend after weekend, because we can't stop!

Eggspert

SlugBug
09-04-2013, 04:48 PM
We only compete 2 - 3 times a year. We have been at it for a decade and have not done better than 5th overall (although we are improving over time). We do it for fun and because I like to try to prove that I can cook well. Right or wrong, I am a firm believer in "The more you compete, the better you do". (Maybe that is my excuse) I take pleasure when I can beat one of the well known names in a category, which happens often enough to keep me satisfied. I echo Fat Freddy in something he said. When I got comfortable with what I was doing and relaxed a little more, that is when I started doing better. Regards.

YankeeBBQ
09-04-2013, 04:54 PM
I see 2 options
1. Grow a set and keep trying
2. Quit

Either way you shouldn't whine about who you compete against.

Fat Freddy
09-04-2013, 04:55 PM
I was re-reading the OP and I noticed something that was said."We are just friends"...I understand financially why teaming with friends is important but what is the old saying "too many cooks in the kitchen" or "too many chiefs not enough indians"...just something else to think about

SOB
09-04-2013, 05:17 PM
Hozman, you and your crew are great guys and I'm glad to have met you all. You guys are in the same boat as us but we've told ourselves that we are there to have fun for now until we can designate more time to compete more than our 8 contest we do now. We are looking into taking us a class to help us get pushed over our stall at the moment. But it does get tough going out every time to finish middle of the pack but its better than DAL. I vote keep with and keep learning. Those bad ass teams started at some point too.

Icekub
09-04-2013, 05:22 PM
It should be no surprise that established teams that compete/cook week in and week out are doing better. Like almost everything in life, the more you do something, the better you become at doing it. I think you just need to change your mindset that every once in awhile you may be able to best some of those teams, but I wouldn't expect to do it with any consistency, until you put in the same type of committment that they are. Expecting anything else wouldn't make much sense.

AZScott
09-04-2013, 05:36 PM
Ditto what Alexa said. When we started her team Rhythm n' Que destroyed it here in the SW. They still do. We watched and saw that they are extremely focused at every comp. Everything has it's place and time. Everything must be just so with them. They are a seriously good team and they always made it abundantly clear to any new team that asked that in order to win you need all 4 meats on point and you need to practice hundreds of times. They were our model and when you look at and talk to other top teams they all behave similarly and they all practiced over and over and over. If you want to win accept that to win it will not be cheap, easy, or quick.

sdbbq1234
09-04-2013, 06:09 PM
I am in agreement with most here in that I want to have fun (enjoy time with the wife), learn how to cook better and better, AND win!!!

Here in the MABA area, we compete against the likes of 3Eyz, Aporkalypse Now, Chix, Swine and Bovine, Checkered Flag 500, Deguello, Drilling & Grilling, Pepper Monkey, etc... To be honest, I love it when I see the BIG boys there! Makes me nervous, gives me anxiety, makes me wonder "How in the hell do we stand a chance", but most importantly, makes be really think hard about what I am doing. I think I am with a lot of people in that this stuff is costly and time consuming. Trust me, it makes for some heated discussions between the wife and I as I always think everything I cook turns out like schit, and I have a negative attitude towards our turn in. She gets pissed at me!

Then wouldn't you know it, we get a call! That changes everything, for the moment, until the week before the next comp. :biggrin1:

I had this crazy thought before we entered our first comp that "Hey, we can do this and win; everyone loves our BBQ." WRONG!!! Time for a reality check...

We have been to 3 professional classes. Myron's, 3Eyz/Swamp Boys, and 3Eyz. We have learned a bunch at all three. We're they worth it? Yes! For our part, we made vacations and other events out of the time we were there.

We have competed in 9 comps over the past year. Lucky enough to get calls in 8 of them and actually won some money at the SAMs comp this year.

Just this last 3 day weekend, I practiced brisket and chicken. We again had some heated discussions as I thought they turned out like junk (although the brisket was pretty dog-gone good). I am a pessimist and always think the worse, but, I told the wife I want to WIN! And, I want to be able to cook BBQ perfect under any conditions and for any occasion. I want to be on TV! I want to sell our homemade spices and sauces! (Yes, I am crazy... :wacko:)

Yea, I am shooting for the stars. I saw this saying in a BBQ news paper and have it posted on our fridge from the late John H. Willingham:

I Believe
(Do you?)
If you don't believe you can,
You won't.
If you always wonder if you should,
You will never know if you could.
And,
If you never, ever try,
You will forever wonder,
"Why?"
What could have been,
But never was,
Is
Because you didn't try.

Yea, we are going broke and spending the few dollars for retirement and our kids inheritance, but hey, we are having a farking blast in the meantime!

I believe!!!

wallace

Scottie
09-04-2013, 06:15 PM
To be the best, you have to beat the best.....

The competitor in me won't let me say anything other than I am going to kick ass.

I go to a contest to do 2 things. Chew gum and kick ass and I just ran out of gum....

fnbish
09-04-2013, 06:18 PM
I see 2 options
1. Grow a set and keep trying
2. Quit

Either way you shouldn't whine about who you compete against.
Love these type of comments on the internet :becky:. Thanks for making my day :clap2:. All you needed was a "nuff said" in there and it would have been absolutely perfect.



I really agree with Icekub's comment below. Those guys crushing it are competing a lot and have been doing it for a while. It can be hard to get into a groove with only a handful of competitions a year and also difficult to know when to change something. I say take a class if you can. Each time I have taken a class our scores have gone up dramatically.

It should be no surprise that established teams that compete/cook week in and week out are doing better. Like almost everything in life, the more you do something, the better you become at doing it. I think you just need to change your mindset that every once in awhile you may be able to best some of those teams, but I wouldn't expect to do it with any consistency, until you put in the same type of committment that they are. Expecting anything else wouldn't make much sense.

CBQ
09-04-2013, 06:29 PM
I see 2 options
1. Grow a set and keep trying
2. Quit

Either way you shouldn't whine about who you compete against.

:becky: Steve is always the diplomat.

He is also the guy that kicked every NEBS team around for years, along with Chris Hart. Every week, it was I Smell Smoke!!! or iQue taking home that GC in New England.

I feel your pain.

We finished in the bottom third of the pack for the first few years. We turned in what we thought was good food, and watched others go to the stage.

That changed. Now we are in contention for NEBS TOY, have 5 GCs so far, and are heading back to The Jack again in October. ZBQ is not up in the stratosphere like Pellet Envy or Truebud, but we no longer suck. (Except in our home state, apparently :becky:)

What changed?

1) We cooked more.
2006 - 1 contest
2007 - 1 contest
2008 - 3 contests
2009 - 8 contests
Since 2010 - 15-17 a year

2) Starting in 2009, we take one class a year. Those classes included I Smell Smoke!!! and iQue.

3) Every member of our 4 person core team, and two of our "sometimes" members became CBJs.

4) We stopped trying to change things up after every contest, and starting making smaller, more carefully considered changes to what we did.

You need to cook more. 4 contests a year won't teach you enough. You also need to judge a few contests to see and taste what other people are turning in. We judge at least once a year. Listening to what other judges think is important, you will learn things in the judge's tent that will help you (and sometimes scare you.)

Take classes, see what successful teams do. We cook our own program - parts of our chicken recipe come from what we were doing in 2007 - but we have also learned something useful in every single class we took. We use at least one element from every class in our program today. That element could be a process, part of a recipe, or a tool.

Be persistent and believe in yourself. We didn't think we would ever become the kind of team that was a contender to win, but we got there.

IowaWildHogsBbq
09-04-2013, 06:48 PM
I feel your pain last year we were in your shoes. We took a class cornfed cooking from two of the top teams in iowa. We have been getting calls in every comp we have done this year. This spring I am taking another from cancersuckschicago if he has it still. This is our second year yes it does cost a lot but one thing we have learned is the flavor profiles that are winning is one thing but the most important and another top team told me this. A comp is won or lost before every turn in you have to get the feel of the meat when it is done and what should go in box. Now your not going to win everytime but practice does make perfect. We did 6 comps last year were 11 this year. I am still learning.

Hozman
09-04-2013, 08:24 PM
Either way you shouldn't whine about who you compete against.

I have reread my original post twice now and dont see where I whined about who we competed against. I am asking how do new teams compete against the big boys who do 30-40+ comps a year and we do 4-6.

Seeing you are from Boston I understand easy being a dick.

Kit R
09-04-2013, 08:35 PM
To be the best, you have to beat the best.....

The competitor in me won't let me say anything other than I am going to kick ass.

I go to a contest to do 2 things. Chew gum and kick ass and I just ran out of gum....

Taking money from someone you previously gave money to (in exchange for them sharing their expertise, knowledge, philosophy and experience) is also a great motivator. Especially when the money given goes to a worthy cause! :razz::razz::razz:

Balls Casten
09-04-2013, 08:38 PM
To beat them … to be a better team than they are will take a LOT of work and practice. I don’t know you at all but I can tell you if you love smokin meat and enjoy competing .. you can compete with the “Big Boys” They do have some tricks and a few secretes but nothing that you cant learn and certinly nothing that would keep you from cooking apealing, tasteful and tender food. Their food is not that different.

Balls Casten
09-04-2013, 08:45 PM
I see 2 options
1. Grow a set and keep trying
2. Quit

Either way you shouldn't whine about who you compete against.

I didnt take it as whining at all. It can be very discouraging to put in the time, work and hand over your money to see the same people winning. It can be very discouraging.

sdbbq1234
09-04-2013, 08:47 PM
They do have some tricks and a few secretes but nothing that you cant learn and certinly nothing that would keep you from cooking apealing, tasteful and tender food. Their food is not that different.

I have tasted many of the winning food items, and they are different, at least compared to mine, sometimes. The folks that win, win consistently. And there food is consistanly good. The times that I have been able to taste winning items,it was DAM GOOD!

For me, the professional classes help me get to the next level faster and with less at-home testing. No matter what I do, testing at home just does not compare to the real thing at a comp. I learn more at a comp cooking than 5 times at home; that's just me.

And by the way, there are many tips and tricks learned at the classes, I agree 100%!

wallace

Kit R
09-04-2013, 09:02 PM
This was our first year competing. We are just friends who do 4-6 comps. How do we compete with the big teams. We go to win or at least get our name called.

As you know this is not a cheap en devour so to spend the money on entry fees, meat, ect gets hard when you always see the same big name teams getting calls.

Our food has been in the top 25-35% which are happy with. Sadly to show up and see Pellet Envy, Truebud BBQ, ect makes me ask why?

So we have talked about not competing any more. So looking for thoughts from new teams as well as old teams with advise to push us on.

We enjoy getting together and hanging out with the other teams which have been great to us. Giving us tips and helping us.


If you compete to win or get your name called, are you putting time in practicing between cooks? Are you willing to make the investment in a class taught by a top notch competitor willing to share what they've learned over many years? If the answer is no, then it's going to take awhile to make your way up the ladder. That's the reality of comp BBQ. We practiced for one whole year before ever competing, and invested in a class at the outset. Made back that class fee in the next two comps and set the tone for a modestly successful career thus far.

You're not complaining, and you're asking a valid question about where to go from here. If you want to win, it's gonna take a hell of a lot of sweat equity and some cash to boot. That's the value proposition, and it's up to you guys to make the call on whether it's worth it.

Outnumbered
09-04-2013, 09:21 PM
Depends on your team and if everyone is in it to win, or if everyone is half committed. Or is it, as I'm inferring here, that you have a team that is about 50/50? Some really wanting to go and some really not?

I'd call a team meeting and see if everybody is at the same level of commitment...financially and emotionally.

But to answer the OP, I believe you can be competitive doing only a few contests a year, but you won't be as consistent or as consistently successful until you totally commit. If not a total commitment, take the calls when you get them and be happy and don't get too discouraged when you don't get the calls.

jketron
09-04-2013, 09:32 PM
Get out there and have fun, very few folks are making money at this. I do this for fun, its my only hobby so I can focus more fun money at it. I've taken a couple of the bigger name classes and I'm signed up for more. I'm making friends, sharing good times, and more often then not we are able to share cooking ideas.

Keep at it, stay focused and you don't need to spend a lot (subjective I know). I want to win too, trust me I'm trying. I've got a call or two and I know I will get more. Every time I compete or trial cook I learn something more. Take notes, keep a time line, and make sure you are consistent. Make small changes if needed, I"m sure by now you are getting real close and its that last 10% thats killing you. This is where the pro's are tuned.

Stick to it and I hope to see you at turn-ins some time :)

Big Poppa
09-04-2013, 10:35 PM
so many ways of looking at this...its the only professional hobby/sport that I know of that all you have to do to compete with and against past legends, current superstars and people that just want to have fun is to pay an entree fee....

That being said there has never been a better time to learn how to get good quickly...if you are paying attention (not shiggin) and studying and asking questions. FOr us Andy from Smoke on Wheels first took us under his wing....then we did pitmasters and Johnny helped us...We also practiced and still do all the time...

Its not only hard its subjective like nobodies business...the new scoring sheets now tell you that luck often times plays a huge roll....the only way to lessen the luck is to continue to improve your cooking.

Im really not being gruff in saying this...one way to fix it is to cook better.

jeffturnerjr
09-04-2013, 10:59 PM
I see 2 options
1. Grow a set and keep trying
2. Quit

Either way you shouldn't whine about who you compete against.

My favorite way of looking at this...

Scottie
09-04-2013, 11:14 PM
Taking money from someone you previously gave money to (in exchange for them sharing their expertise, knowledge, philosophy and experience) is also a great motivator. Especially when the money given goes to a worthy cause! :razz::razz::razz:



Unfortunately for me.... Its every contest with me getting my bitt kicked by past students. So get in line!!!! Honestly, it makes me smile. Whether folks used anything out of the class, I am still happy for them. Whether it be world championships or category wins. I'm still a winner...

But don't worry Kit. I still need Virginia and Delaware, so sharpen your swords!!!!

CivilWarBBQ
09-05-2013, 01:02 AM
We are just friends who do 4-6 comps.

We go to win or at least get our name called.



I'm going to be blunt here, so forgive me if I sound harsh.

The two statements above are in direct opposition to each other. You're going to have to pick one - either you are a bunch of friends who cook for the pure enjoyment of fellowship among the rest of the BBQ community or you are hardcore competitors that are willing to invest the time and money into winning consistently.

Either is just fine, but don't expect to find yourself in the top tier cooking once a month through the summer.

Kit R
09-05-2013, 07:35 AM
Unfortunately for me.... Its every contest with me getting my bitt kicked by past students. So get in line!!!! Honestly, it makes me smile. Whether folks used anything out of the class, I am still happy for them. Whether it be world championships or category wins. I'm still a winner...

But don't worry Kit. I still need Virginia and Delaware, so sharpen your swords!!!!

Always a pleasure to have you and your very nice daughters visit us out here in the mid-Atlantic. And I mentioned this before, but you and Dan were the first ones to congratulate me and Sharon on that big day in Frederick. That was cool. Would've been Heath and Brett, but Brett was too busy documenting the call with hs iPhone and Heath was too busy jumping out of the way as I screamed "I'M GOING TO DISNEYLAND!!!!"

Oh and totally unrelated but it's really too bad you couldn't join me last week. I had something like eight courses, three different wines, served by the Chef de Cuisine and Sous Chef. All comped!

mobow
09-05-2013, 07:44 AM
It does feel like David vs. Goliath sometimes. We are a 5 or so contest a year team. In a few weeks we are cooking a contest where I think half of the teams are in the top 100 for the TOY race. Odds are not in our favor but won't it be sweet if we hear our name called. Keith

akoda
09-05-2013, 07:51 AM
In the original David vs. Goliath ... who won?

Kit R
09-05-2013, 07:55 AM
the only way to lessen the luck is to continue to improve your cooking.



So true. KCBSCORE lifted the curtain on the "good table/bad table" theory, but every time I hear someone complain how they'd have won if their brisket, pork etc. didn't hit Table 5, my (unspoken) response is "if it wasn't brisket that hit Table 5, it would've been chicken. And then you would not have hit that favorable chicken table". Subjectivity and luck aren't the reason Dan and Chris go all Blitzkrieg week in/week out in the mid-Atlantic. They roll because they cook every week and have been doing so for years before a lot of us came on the scene.

Uncle JJ
09-05-2013, 08:44 AM
This is a great thread. I'm just now considering entering my first comp. I'm sure I'll be nervous to swim with the sharks, but I think it will be a real gas. I've decided to go straight into the Pro competition, because I'm hoping to learn more about how you guys play the game. What other place can a total rookie jump in with all of you legends of BBQ?!

There's so much good advice on this site and on this particular thread. Thanks to all who take the time to post and help us get better!

To the OP - are you kidding? You guys are so close to breaking through! Don't stop now!

DawgPhan
09-05-2013, 09:00 AM
Even the best teams dont win every weekend. Think about how many times a year some of these teams cook and how few teams hit 7 grands in a year.

BaggerBill
09-05-2013, 09:27 AM
We did our very first comp two weeks ago. As soon as we rolled the first words out my mouth were "We're out of league". If the wife had longer arms she would've back handed me. When it was all over with, we finished mid pack and I was more than happy...mostly because some of the teams I got to talk with the night before gave advice of taking at least one class a year. With that info I'm sure the scores will go up. This week my goal isn't about getting a call as much as it is about beating my scores from two weeks ago. Eventually David will become Goliath....I just don't want to get hit in the head with a rock or an over cooked brisket!

Pole D
09-05-2013, 09:41 AM
We are a small time team but have a few calls and a trophy or two.

The way we see is that we are not competing against other teams. We are competing against ourselves. If we do our best then that's all we can do. What some other teams does, does not determine whether what score we receive. It what we put in front of the judges that counts.

SmokinJohn
09-05-2013, 09:43 AM
So I read the OP and all of the comments (especially the more colorful and painful ones). My two cents:

They say that when a person with money meets a person with knowledge, the person with the money leaves with knowledge and the person with the knowledge leaves with money.

Sounds like you are getting knowledge. Expensive knowledge, but knowledge.

I have not competed before. Do I think I can score better than some of you brethren out there (including the OP)? The arrogant part of me says Hell yes. The wiser part of me says that I would have as much chance of beating you as I would taking on Jeff Gordon one-on-one in a NASCAR race, or trying to get a hit off Aroldis Chapman.

Why? Because you practice, and I don't. Well, I do, but not at the level I know some of you do.

Even if I practiced at those levels, there are so many factors that go into the art of Q, I still could not guarantee a win against any of you.

But I will never know the answer until I drag my arse out there on the front line and try. And to be the best, you have to compete against the best. I can beat all of my neighbors in Q, but none of them is Myron or Trigg, or DivaQ or BigMista or DeGuerre or N8Man (no slight against the rest of you).

The best way to improve is to do what pro sports teams do: Analyze and adjust.

Send your spies (I mean market research consultants) out there to get some samples. Analyze those bad boys like you were on a CSI team. Have your family and friends blind taste the winning product against yours.

It worked for the Patriots.

Lake Dogs
09-05-2013, 09:48 AM
+1 above. You dont have to send out the spies... Judge a few contests. You'll get an idea of what the winners produce, if not how they're doing it, you'll know WHAT.


I enjoy competing for the joy of the competition, and frankly there is little joy unless I'm competing against Myron and a few others... Then, when I do better than they do; WOOO HOOOO. And when I dont, I reflect, and learn, and take another shot of tequila and tell the wife "You're driving home". :-)

MikeJ65
09-05-2013, 10:37 AM
Unfortunately for me.... Its every contest with me getting my bitt kicked by past students. So get in line!!!! Honestly, it makes me smile. Whether folks used anything out of the class, I am still happy for them. Whether it be world championships or category wins. I'm still a winner...

But don't worry Kit. I still need Virginia and Delaware, so sharpen your swords!!!!

Don't put off Nebraska too long, we get a little better every time out. :wink:

MikeJ65
09-05-2013, 10:44 AM
so many ways of looking at this...its the only professional hobby/sport that I know of that all you have to do to compete with and against past legends, current superstars and people that just want to have fun is to pay an entree fee....



This. You can either be the star of your church league, or go into Yankee Stadium and take your swings. Nothing is wrong with either approach, but to me the rare opportunity to compete with the best in your 'sport' is appealing. How many minor league baseball players would sell their soul for opportunities like this?

Stoke&Smoke
09-05-2013, 11:00 AM
Hozman, like you, we only do 4-6 comps per year. Last year, we were only able to do 2 due to illness. We are a husband and wife team, I am the only cook, my wife arranges boxes, runs turn ins, and has an uncanny knack of knowing what I need before I need it (seasonings, sauces warmed, etc.)

You'll realistically never be able to consistently beat the best teams cooking so few events, but in 5 1/2 seasons we've held our own, and heard our names called a time or two, and you can do that as well. But if you aren't having fun with it, it's not worth doing.

I'm finally considering taking a class because I've gotten about as good at it as I can on my own, and am not ashamed to look for some tips and techniques from some more consistent winners

Our best ever was in 2010, taking 1st pork and 6th brisket against some of the best at UP Hog wild. I would bet we were as on top of the world as if we'd won GC...well...almost:roll:

BB-Kuhn
09-05-2013, 11:08 AM
If you are just there to have fun, and maybe get a good call here and there, why not just do unsanctioned comps or amateur comps instead?

It's the same basic thing, but you'll have less goliath's to compete with. Your friends will all have fun cooking and competing, etc.

Who cares?

bigzthamoose
09-05-2013, 01:00 PM
ya, as someone already beat me to it, If you feel like David vs. Goliath, if my memory serves me correctly, who wins? =) Think positive brother! I am by no means a pro, in fact, im running my own solo team for the first time in 2 weekends. i have helped teams, but this is the real deal, in my mind, im gonna win, no arrogance, just the mindset you gotta have. Got a few heavy hitters in my parts also, one of which, you better believe im gonna be in line for his class next year!!

Ackman
09-05-2013, 01:42 PM
I have only just started competing and I very much enjoy it. I think that going up against the big guns is a big part of the fun. As Sterling put it, in what else can you go head to head with the best there is for $250.


I will be 60 this year and don’t feel as I have 4-5 years to invest in teaching myself so I have taken a few of the courses some of the big guns offer. Unfortunately a series of family issues have forced me to limit my schedule this year and looks like I will only get about 6 in this year. I plan on taking yet another course over the winter and hope to be able to enter 10-12 next season. I think that is the only way to hone your skills.


I watched a top team recently and it was almost uncanny – they really didn’t even have to talk to each other….each knew what the other was doing or wanted. It was like some sort of synchronized dance without a wasted effort


I only have ever played to win, so yes it is frustrating, but I am going to keep pressing and along the way I expect to share a few beers and meet more good people, and I will be a winner, hopefully sooner than later.


One side note though, I did recently judge a contest and I have to say I was disappointed in what landed on my table. I think that there was only one outstanding box in each category and some were actually downright bad—which really made me wonder…as I keep finishing in the middle of the pack…hmmm – maybe I have a lot more work to do than I thought J

Scottie
09-05-2013, 02:12 PM
Hozman, like you, we only do 4-6 comps per year. Last year, we were only able to do 2 due to illness. We are a husband and wife team, I am the only cook, my wife arranges boxes, runs turn ins, and has an uncanny knack of knowing what I need before I need it (seasonings, sauces warmed, etc.)

You'll realistically never be able to consistently beat the best teams cooking so few events, but in 5 1/2 seasons we've held our own, and heard our names called a time or two, and you can do that as well. But if you aren't having fun with it, it's not worth doing.

I'm finally considering taking a class because I've gotten about as good at it as I can on my own, and am not ashamed to look for some tips and techniques from some more consistent winners

Our best ever was in 2010, taking 1st pork and 6th brisket against some of the best at UP Hog wild. I would bet we were as on top of the world as if we'd won GC...well...almost:roll:



Attaboy Dann. I also remember a big call at Westmont, I think you jumped all the way to the stage....:grin: Honestly, that is what it is all about folks. My girls still get excited and I now just let them get to go to the stage. Plus, they run to get the award and by the time they get there, I am still trying to get my sore aching body out of my comfortable chair!!!! :)

Scottie
09-05-2013, 02:17 PM
Also.... As a competitor.... If folks are intimidated and or scared at the cooks meeting. I already won... my view is there isn't anyone better in that cooks meeting than myself. Cocky or confident? Honestly, I dont really know the difference. But I can tell you I didn't show up to be intimidated or to finish second.

With it being Jack week. There are plenty of stories of the little guy taking out the big teams... on any given Saturday....

Meat & Heat
09-05-2013, 04:14 PM
Man you guy's gotta decide what you want. Win, or have fun.
We only cook a couple comps a year, in fact this year we are only cooking one next weekend.
We want to win everyone does but we also just like the experience. We have cooked against a lot of big names although we haven't won a category or gotten a GC we have beaten guy's like Johnny Trigg and others in individual category's and to me that is a win.
We don't cook every weekend and don't have the money to do a bunch of comps a year, but I don't mind seeing the big names because in my opinion if I can go hang out with friends and other teams, have a good time, maybe get a call or beat the BIG GUY'S in a category I have already one.
Just remember there is a reason it is called PRFESSIONAL a lot of these guy's cook for a living.

big brother smoke
09-05-2013, 05:03 PM
Mindset: When I go to a contest, I am there to beat me (my demons)

How I exorcise my demons:

1. purchased the proper meat (no cutting of corners).
2. Not too many intoxicants, if any.
3. I have everything I need, because I have a list not to forget stuff
4. I am not using year old sauce and rubs
5. I have practiced and will stick to the gameplan
6. I will fight all voices in my head during turn in and not have a bonehead epiphany.
7. I will make all turn ins because I have an atomic clock, alarms and a visible gameplan.
8. I will make sure my wood chunks are quality and not from Home Dump
9. etc.

ynotfehc
09-05-2013, 07:27 PM
First, I would like to know how many teams have gone out and won GC or RGC in their first competition or first couple.
Second,I love going to competitions!
I started doing them last year, went to 3, this year did 6. I cook by myself, so no teammates to help spread out the costs, no body making boxes or running turn-ins. So I understand how disheartening it can be, believe me! I pull in with my Yukon and my off-set trailer, no motor home or mini semi truck with a 2 bedroom house on the back end. I sleep for about 3hrs in the back of my truck before starting my fire and staying up most of the night.
Its also been a kick in the head not finishing near the top, because Im a chef in my professional life, but I had never really practiced bbq or written any recipes down before last June. I just started competing and said lets see what happens. I make all my rubs and sauces from scratch, I did alter a couple retail competition sauces for a few comps this year, but finished the last one with my own recipe again. I attended a class last year with Paul Kirk, which I loved! I dont know what the other classes are like, but he doesnt give you a recipe, rather gives the formula on how to build a rub and a sauce, then you have to go out and find your "taste". I spent just about every weekend last weekend here in MN last year testing rubs changing one ingredient at a time until I was happy with the results, then this summer I even added a few more elements, and started moving up the board.
My results are getting consistent and better from comp to comp. And that is ultimately my goal, is to have fun, make great consistent bbq and continue to improve. Ive competed in 9 competitions total, and many of those top teams have been doing 9+ comps each year for years. Right now Im better known for cooking all by myself than winning, but Ill take that, because if/when I do win, it will be that much more impressive in addition to beating those top teams.

CBQ
09-06-2013, 12:30 AM
...its the only professional hobby/sport that I know of that all you have to do to compete with and against past legends, current superstars and people that just want to have fun is to pay an entree fee....

BBQ and Poker, aka my other expensive hobby. Actually I lose more money on BBQ then Poker. :crazy:

Big Poppa
09-06-2013, 09:39 AM
Also.... As a competitor.... If folks are intimidated and or scared at the cooks meeting. I already won... my view is there isn't anyone better in that cooks meeting than myself. Cocky or confident? Honestly, I dont really know the difference. But I can tell you I didn't show up to be intimidated or to finish second.

With it being Jack week. There are plenty of stories of the little guy taking out the big teams... on any given Saturday....

I have never been toa cooks meeting but if I went and Scottie was there I would be intimidated.

Scottie
09-06-2013, 01:33 PM
You will have to come some time... maybe the next contest you drive to? :-P

RLTXBBQ
09-06-2013, 03:01 PM
If the big boys are not there, who would you beat?

I don't give a damn about beating chumps, I want to hurt the feelings of the best out there.

Man i gotta agree with that one! It aint no fun beating up the little kids, i like to whup up on them big bullies. It did take a few years and a lot of practice and $$$ to be able to do it though. Rarely does a new team just show up and win although it does happen sometimes but to do it consistently week in and week out well thats gonna take as much time work and money as Pellet Envy and the other top teams have spent getting there. Will also say to pay attn when a winning team give you advice, there are some teams competing for years an never win. They usually have a closed mind and or a stubborn head.
Good luck and keep trying its just more fun when you finally do get there.

Pappy Q
09-07-2013, 04:33 AM
My first comp I was parked between 2 World Champions and got my ass handed to me by both of them (as expected). I took a class and practiced a couple of time per week. My next comp I was once again parked between the same 2 World Champions and got lucky enough to actually beat them both. So with hard work and dedication you can run with the big dogs every now and then.

Big George's BBQ
09-07-2013, 07:30 AM
At the time my team kids use to get upset if we did not do well. I asked them what there goal was and then told them mine- have a good time with my team, meet and make friends, and improve. The first few contest we did horrible. One team next to us at a Comp asked us if we had ever cut brisket- we had not. They got their knives and showed us how. They had to cut it thick becauise it was so dry it wouldfall apart. Walk around and talk to the competitiors- they love to help and teach. Take a judging class to see what to do and not to do with turn ins. Take a class I took too After the first one I got 4th over all at a big PA Comp. Beat my teacher He said with a grin he was going to have to start charging a commission Everyone cherred when I got the call Go for a good time and if you do well that is great. Dont go expecting to make your money back

JS-TX
09-07-2013, 03:17 PM
You need to cook more. 4 contests a year won't teach you enough. You also need to judge a few contests to see and taste what other people are turning in. We judge at least once a year. Listening to what other judges think is important, you will learn things in the judge's tent that will help you (and sometimes scare you.)


This ^. I'm in a similar boat, I can't compete 15-20+ times a yr like the top notch teams do. However, you can judge a few a comps and see what these teams are turning in. Be honest in comparing your Q to theirs. Many times I've thought "My Q tastes just as good as theirs", but the difference is in the details, details matter and that's what wins.

Either way stay focus at what comps you can do, stay organized and put together your best effort. I do agree that taking a comp. class can get you a call sooner rather than later, but I think doing the work and R&D w/out taking a class is more satisfying.

In the long run, the great teams that compete all the time will best you the majority of the time, but coming in ahead of them every now and then feels great. That takes practicing at home and staying focused on what flavor profile you are going for. Be the leader on your team, too many cooks and opinions isn't going to help your cause.

trspsufan
09-08-2013, 09:12 AM
This is our 1st year and while we started off in 1 comp 21st overall, 2nd comp 5th overall, we have tanked over the last 3. We stuck with what got us good results and so I feel your frustration and admit to some frustration! I love doing these bbq comps. The folks are pretty much the most down to earth people you can meet. I honestly believe that I can this and do it well enough to just derive the most satisfaction from doing a job well and letting the chips fall where they may. I know the $$$ factor in so I guess I am in agreement with those others that advise figuring out what it is that you want, is it obtainable, and then decide. Just sayin'

Rich Parker
09-08-2013, 10:16 AM
I cook about 10 events a year and still feel like a rookie when I go to an event but I always go to win.

Michigan BBQ Rules! :-P

Dan - 3eyzbbq
09-08-2013, 10:32 AM
Your on the right track according to the thread title. After all, David did beat Goliath if my memory serves me correctly.

Dragline
09-08-2013, 10:50 AM
Your on the right track according to the thread title. After all, David did beat Goliath if my memory serves me correctly.

:)..

Coz
09-08-2013, 12:14 PM
Mindset: When I go to a contest, I am there to beat me (my demons)

How I exorcise my demons:

1. purchased the proper meat (no cutting of corners).
2. Not too many intoxicants, if any.
3. I have everything I need, because I have a list not to forget stuff
4. I am not using year old sauce and rubs
5. I have practiced and will stick to the gameplan
6. I will fight all voices in my head during turn in and not have a bonehead epiphany.
7. I will make all turn ins because I have an atomic clock, alarms and a visible gameplan.
8. I will make sure my wood chunks are quality and not from Home Dump
9. etc.
This is so farkin hittin close to home ! Best game plan your going to get for free people !

Big Tim
09-09-2013, 01:49 PM
Lots of very good information in this thread. I am just starting off myself. I have now done two competitions. I did okay in the first competition and not all that great in the second. I certainly do it more for fun and it is a great time being able to do this with my brother and friends. I really would like to start taking a class or two a year. Does anyone recommend any in the Chicago area? I know of a few, but I'd appreciate any recommended judging or cooking classes.

CBQ
09-10-2013, 09:20 AM
Lots of very good information in this thread. I am just starting off myself. I have now done two competitions. I did okay in the first competition and not all that great in the second. I certainly do it more for fun and it is a great time being able to do this with my brother and friends. I really would like to start taking a class or two a year. Does anyone recommend any in the Chicago area? I know of a few, but I'd appreciate any recommended judging or cooking classes.

Look for the next class from http://cancersuckschicago.com/

Scottie
09-10-2013, 11:46 AM
We will probably have another class in February. Usually the second weekend. It is held at the Wellness House in Hinsdale.


There is also in the planning stages a CBJ class in Westmont at the end of February.. Hopefully and announcement will be in the near future


Thanks