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View Full Version : Can a one person team realistically compete?


rdstoll
09-27-2013, 02:28 PM
Hey just a quick question -

Is it possible for just a one-man "team" to realistically be able to compete in local BBQ competitions? Meaning, just myself? I'm not talking about the American Royal or some of the other very big competitions, just smaller, local ones with maybe less than 50 teams (yet still "official" KCBS).

Having caught the bug over the last two months I'm thinking about a nice stick burner (or something else) but one of the factors that enters into that equation is potentially using the cooker to compete, meaning I might need a somewhat bigger cooker than what I'd typically just use at home or for church-related entertainment, for example. Like a Lang 48 vs. a 60, etc.

Dex
09-27-2013, 02:30 PM
Post this in the competition section for better feedback. I would say yes.

PatAttack
09-27-2013, 02:34 PM
I've seen it done many times with stellar results.

deguerre
09-27-2013, 02:36 PM
I would think for KCBS it could be done and as Pat said, often is. Not sure if it would work out so well for MIM/MBN type comps though.

CarolinaQue
09-27-2013, 02:39 PM
With the right equipment...totally doable IMO.

rdstoll
09-27-2013, 02:50 PM
Good to know....yeah, I was thinking of posting this in the Comp forum but I'm thinking of this question more from the standpoint of buying a cooker sometime in the next 3 months or so. Just trying to get some of the basics down, like size. Of course, if I do get something bigger the next question will be whether I should get the unit put on a trailer....

nucornhusker
09-27-2013, 02:51 PM
Yes, it can be done, just be prepared to go nonstop if you do.

bbq.tom
09-27-2013, 03:03 PM
In Apex, NC this June the GC was Killer B's and he did it alone.

If you are looking at a LANG, I'd highly suggest a 48 hybrid (so that you have the charcoal grill up front for added firepower - pun intended).

I have a LANG 36 hybrid, but really would do a bit better with the 48 hybrid.

Big George's BBQ
09-27-2013, 03:11 PM
A lot of people do it It is a lot of work and good time management skills You have to both set and clean up too

Harbormaster
09-27-2013, 03:12 PM
I have never actually competed alone, but I know I could if I needed to.

4 18.5" WSMs for me.

deguerre
09-27-2013, 03:40 PM
I have never actually competed alone, but I know I could if I needed to.

4 18.5" WSMs for me.

Yeah, but you've got sla...um, SONS, I meant...

Garrett
09-27-2013, 03:51 PM
It can be done. My best advice is practice your times and don't have "friends" just eating to hang out, they can become distracting.

hogzillas
09-27-2013, 04:32 PM
It definitely works for most normal contests but something like the AR or very large contests where turrnins are farther away or crowds would make it hard to do. You might be able to do it at places like the AR if you were a box ahead of turnins in some way

bluetang
09-27-2013, 04:35 PM
Yep, just ask Rub.

boogiesnap
09-27-2013, 04:40 PM
can you compete? yes. are you at a disadvantage from the start? yes and no.

it is ALOT of work, not only at the comp, but before, AND after.

the upside is, you are the boss and your own standards rule.

ssbbqguy
09-27-2013, 05:42 PM
I've been a one man gang doing comps since '87. I have been using my BarrelSmokers, two for two flavor profiles, for the last few years. At my peak I was doing 30- 35 a year. Working on my health and more sponsors to put forth a better campaign next year. Donnie Teel, Scottie Johnson, Rub, Craig Sherry, Bryan Mclarty, Fast Eddy, Bill Arnold, Jerry King, Paul Schatte, Drew McNatt, Harry Soo are just some that come to mind. Marla Twyford just won a Grand while Randy was busy somewhere else. There are hundreds more that can hold their own. So ,yes there are plenty of us. Steve.

bbqwilly
09-27-2013, 06:21 PM
Big Moe Cason is a DIY competitor. And a heck of a nice guy.

Bigmista
09-27-2013, 06:34 PM
Me, Big brother smoke, Slap Yo Daddy (does the whole comp on 1 18" WSM), Lady of Q, Butcher's Daughter, Rib Doctor, Dr. BBQ just off the top of my head.

Rub
09-27-2013, 07:57 PM
Been doing it for 10 years solo now, wouldn't want it any other way. Set up takes 5-8 minutes. Can be cleaned and packed up and ready to leave one hour after brisket turn in. Like others have said more than you might think do it as a one man team. KISS.

daveinwestmont
09-28-2013, 09:02 AM
I, for the most part, do it. I will have my wife come the morning of turn in's to build boxes, if she can. I use one pit, easy ups and my minivan as my sleeping quarters, (poor mans RV :heh:). You must get your timelines down and have your process well in hand. When I show up it takes an hour to setup and an hour to break down. I'm usually hanging with other teams and having fun by dinner time on Friday. Is it work, yes!! But you feel a great sense of accomplishment just for a single call.

Goddahavit
09-28-2013, 09:51 AM
Can it be done sure, but seriously think about your cookers of choice.

You will need sleep overnight to be effective during turn ins, I like stick burners, but i personally need more sleep than one provides at a comp especially if your a 1 man team.

You will need to minimize, packing and loading. and your processes will be key to your success.

Looking forward to seeing your progress.

Smoke'n Ice
09-28-2013, 04:41 PM
Check out parrothead, John is a one man show and he got an automatic for the Jack with more than 7 GC's this year alone. It can be and it is done more than you might expect.

MattG
09-28-2013, 05:31 PM
Yes I've done it a few times. All about timing.

BBQ_MAFIA
09-28-2013, 06:24 PM
Pay attention to the attached from Goddahavit.
If I was alone there is no way that I would be cooking on a Lang.
Don't get me wrong, I love the Lang, and we use them for comps but we have a three man team.

Rest is important.


Can it be done sure, but seriously think about your cookers of choice.

You will need sleep overnight to be effective during turn ins, I like stick burners, but i personally need more sleep than one provides at a comp especially if your a 1 man team.

You will need to minimize, packing and loading. and your processes will be key to your success.

Looking forward to seeing your progress.

Teamfour
09-28-2013, 06:37 PM
Yep, it can be done with good results. I have two comps under my belt, both with about 30 teams. I have had calls in both with a 10th overall in the first one. I have a printed timeline and stick to it. This was developed after numerous comp-type practices. I use a Backwoods for brisket, pork, and ribs and the UDS for chicken. Brisket and pork goes on early enough to allow for about 4.5 hours of sleep before I wake to put the ribs on.

Also, Deguello BBQ is a one man operation and he gets GCs, RGCs, and numerous calls.

dhuffjr
09-28-2013, 07:38 PM
Check out parrothead, John is a one man show and he got an automatic for the Jack with more than 7 GC's this year alone. It can be and it is done more than you might expect.
He just won the Xenia Ohio contest today. Last time I saw him was in Kettering and he won that one too. I think he should pay my entry fees as a guarantee of good luck. :mrgreen:

rwoodling
09-28-2013, 08:04 PM
I heard Rub uses two microwaves and a crockpot?? JK buddy. Not sure about the rest of the nation but I have seen plenty of teams here in FL that do it with great success. Not being a comp guy I dong know how the heck they do it but hopefully after taking RUB's class next week it will all make sense.

rdstoll
09-28-2013, 08:26 PM
So sounds like if you want to go solo better with a cabinet or gravity-fed smoker and maybe a UDS or two? Really want a stick burner as I'll be doing far more cooking at home but something to think about.

Rub
09-28-2013, 09:03 PM
rdstoll email me rub at swampboys.com

jaestar
09-28-2013, 09:28 PM
I cook on a Jambo and compete alone. Sleep is overrated :-P

jeffturnerjr
09-28-2013, 09:55 PM
my first competition I did myself and actually did better in results than my second one with a team. The results weren't due to my team but I did fair.

Scottie
09-28-2013, 10:20 PM
I do it all the time. Just have an accurate timeline and follow it. Get stuff done early. Don't fall behind schedule, it's too hard to catch up.

Rick Hamilton
09-29-2013, 06:48 AM
Many of my comps are just me. I have used both gravity fed and currently a stick burner. Go to bed early and then a couple power naps in the early morning. Works out fine. The bigger challenge is the drive home without someone to share the driving duties...especially when 8-18 hours from home.

Rambo
09-29-2013, 07:30 AM
I don't see why not if you're organized

Bunny
09-29-2013, 08:36 AM
Hey just a quick question -

Is it possible for just a one-man "team" to realistically be able to compete in local BBQ competitions? Meaning, just myself? I'm not talking about the American Royal or some of the other very big competitions, just smaller, local ones with maybe less than 50 teams (yet still "official" KCBS).

Having caught the bug over the last two months I'm thinking about a nice stick burner (or something else) but one of the factors that enters into that equation is potentially using the cooker to compete, meaning I might need a somewhat bigger cooker than what I'd typically just use at home or for church-related entertainment, for example. Like a Lang 48 vs. a 60, etc.


I did it one time when Rich had to work. I used a bullet smoker and a weber, one table and one chair, (no tent) and had my 4 little kids running around me. It was a contest of 50 teams. I did pretty good.

Nordy
09-29-2013, 08:38 AM
I usually cook alone. It definitely can be done. It's more work... but you don't have to split the winnings either! I will sometimes have a box runner Sat AM which helps a lot.

GO FOR IT!
Nordy

Rocky_Northern
09-29-2013, 06:23 PM
well i saw BK BBQ do it and win a grand turn around same day drive 150 miles enter another and win gc at that one copmletly by himself
he left before the awards by the way
true story

Bourbon Barrel BBQ
09-29-2013, 08:52 PM
I've done it before. I don't think my results really suffered but the amount of extra work didn't make it very fun. I personally don't want to make a habit of it.

JD McGee
09-29-2013, 09:21 PM
Yep...lots of folks do...and do well! :cool: Me?...not gonna happen unless Rhana kicks the bucket...then I'm moving to So-Cal to live with Steph! :twitch:

Muzzlebrake
09-29-2013, 10:15 PM
I do it all the time, probably half of the contests I did this year were solo. The other half my wife comes with me and she is my box runner. Someone else added to the mix at this point would be in my way more than they would be a help.

I use Yoder pellet cookers and get plenty of sleep.

mikeleonard81
09-29-2013, 10:58 PM
Parrot head drove from South Dakota by himself, set up, cooked, ran his own turn ins, tore down, and drove home from Ohio this weekend by himself I'm pretty sure. Oh, and he won! Congrats to him! ( All that from 1 man. I think it's time to start testing for performance enhancers in bbq comps. He's super human!)

wrenfro12
09-30-2013, 09:13 AM
I only cook backyard so take it for what it's worth.....My team used to be me and my college age daughter. She found a boyfriend and now hanging out with dad is not as much fun any more.

I am now starting to do comps solo and it is not so bad....The hardest part for me is I have bad knees and running the boxes and getting ready for the next turn in can be painful. since going solo I have switched from a stick burner to a couple of UDS. With my knees I do need the rest at knight.

big brother smoke
09-30-2013, 09:44 AM
Yep...lots of folks do...and do well! :cool: Me?...not gonna happen unless Rhana kicks the bucket...then I'm moving to So-Cal to live with Steph! :twitch:

:shock::shock::shock::shock:


Yea, cooking alone takes organization and focus. One must limit distractions such as mind altering substances and overly socializing. :wink:

rweller
09-30-2013, 09:45 AM
A good friend of mine Gilly from Gilly's BBQ is a one man team and currently ranked 4th in KCBS team of the year rankings.

Candy Sue
09-30-2013, 11:17 AM
Organization, planning and streamlining everything. Don't take anything you don't need.

My problem is I talk too much. Mostly alone cooking for 10 years as of last weekend.

Kave Dweller
09-30-2013, 11:28 AM
I hate drinking alone, so why would ya try?

bruno994
09-30-2013, 01:39 PM
Personally do it 6 to 7 times a year with a stickburner. With that being said, if I was to ever really get into this hobby and start pushing 12 to 20 comps a year, I feel like I would need to move on to a cabinet style cooker (Pitmaker, Backwoods, Stumps, etc), just to be able to get more sleep. As far as pit size to comfortable be able to cook comps, mine has a 23 x 48 lower grate and a 20 x 48 upper grate, plenty of cook surface for the comp meats.

tnjimbob
09-30-2013, 02:19 PM
Absolutely. A good friend of mine competes by himself in probably 20 KCBS comps a year. He was less than three points out of RGC in a comp this weekend, all four categories in the top 10. He makes it look easy to compete by yourself but he's been competing by himself for several years.

BigBellyBBQ
10-01-2013, 12:46 AM
Go for it...make sure you get your stuff done early and hold. I keep a grill going and one smoker crank the heat after 10, to be able to flash things..Get your boxes preped the night before, get your sauces heating up around 10 also. I set up on butchers paper and when I get back from a turn in, clear the area and put fresh paper down, area cleans instanly

Bigmista
10-01-2013, 05:34 AM
Go for it...make sure you get your stuff done early and hold. I keep a grill going and one smoker crank the heat after 10, to be able to flash things..Get your boxes preped the night before, get your sauces heating up around 10 also. I set up on butchers paper and when I get back from a turn in, clear the area and put fresh paper down, area cleans instanly

Butcher Paper? Nice! Is it shiggin if I steal that idea?

Smitty250
10-01-2013, 10:23 AM
I've been cooking solo for the past year now. My wife will come out and give me a hand here and there but I have also done many comps by myself - I'll roll in with my truck packed with my smoker, pop-up tent, and tables. It helps to be relatively close to turn in when you are by yourself!

jaestar
10-01-2013, 10:33 AM
I've been cooking solo for the past year now. My wife will come out and give me a hand here and there but I have also done many comps by myself - I'll roll in with my truck packed with my smoker, pop-up tent, and tables. It helps to be relatively close to turn in when you are by yourself!

Smitty makes a great point about being close to turn in. Most organizers will put you close if you tell them you are a 1 man team and ask to be put close to turn in.

rdstoll
10-01-2013, 12:03 PM
Go for it...make sure you get your stuff done early and hold. I keep a grill going and one smoker crank the heat after 10, to be able to flash things..Get your boxes preped the night before, get your sauces heating up around 10 also. I set up on butchers paper and when I get back from a turn in, clear the area and put fresh paper down, area cleans instanly



Thanks! This is great info!!

How do you "hold" the meat so it doesn't overcook or otherwise go down in quality? A Cambro? Warming Box?

rdstoll
10-01-2013, 12:07 PM
So one other question related to this topic: suppose I had my heart set on getting a stickburner but also want to be cognizant of the fact that sleep gets harder as a result - does getting an offset or reverse-flow cooker with insulated firebox and/or chamber make a difference?

Since this would also be actively used at home and I live near Chicago (cold winters!) would this kind of setup help a bit with the sleep issue?

Southern Home Boy
10-01-2013, 12:08 PM
I've done almost all of my competitions alone. This year was the first year I ever cooked with a team. I didn't know what to do with myself. I kept thinking, "Oh..sh!t.... I've got to...no.. wait... I don't. Someone else has got that covered."

You can definitely cook alone. You DO need a cooker you don't have to tend a lot, (I use two UDSs) and you DEFINITELY have to have your timeline planned out, (my timeline is broken down into five minute increments from 11:30 until 1:30) and you have to have gear that you can manage by yourself, (I have a 10X20 ez up that I can't use if I'm setting up by myself. But I CAN use two 10X10s).

It is a lot of work and you have to move. But if your cooker(s) is/are good, you can even get some sleep.

mikeleonard81
10-01-2013, 09:00 PM
My stick burner needs attention every 30 to 45 minutes so that leaves time for cat naps and that would be about it.:sad:

BigBellyBBQ
10-02-2013, 01:31 AM
I use my backwoods fat boy, put in 10 or 11pm I can put 3 butts and two briskets in there, grab sleep till 3 am ck fire..then sleep till 6 am...done around 8 or 9.
I fire the southern pride with lump and split wood at 6 am , the fan that runs the gas runs to fan the wood, (propane removed) and pit runs normallly 235 to 300, using the regular controller.sweet spot is 260..if I open the wood pit door I can go up to 400
ribs go in at 6
butts or brisket out and held in blankets, 1 hour then moved to cambro or empty ice chest
butts or brisket back in hot oven to bark up, in/ out 30 minutes or previous turn in..
butcher papper in several areas to keep clean and when I am vending unused comp gets wrapped in foil and back in oven to hold till after turn in to prep to sell..
once you get your timing down but get your stuff done early as something goes aray...meat stall, rain...you name it and it happens..
but if you can get someone just to help with little things..however I am a grumpy old fart and they just cant anticipate your moves and always seem to be standing where I am going!!

BB-Kuhn
10-02-2013, 11:29 AM
I've done ok by myself this past season (my first competing). My wife has been around a couple times and aside from turn in box building she does absolutely nothing. Turn in boxes are a huge deal, sure but there are times where I have an hour or two with little/nothing to do and could handle building boxes in that time if she weren't there.

It's a lot of work, and there will be times you wish you had an extra pair of hands (to open/close lids, hand paper towels, etc), but it's absolutely do-able.

I'd suggest you do a practice run in the backyard. Do all four, make boxes, have deadline turn in times, etc. Do it entirely by yourself.

You'll either realize you can't/don't want to do it alone, or you'll realize that it's totally easy - it just needs to have steps dialed in with some practice and foresight so you go smoothly.