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Jeff_in_KC
07-22-2007, 07:36 PM
Anyone else ever felt this way? My confidence in my ability to cook is completely shot. I'm not kidding. In two weeks, I've pulled a 25th and 31st in chicken and a 23rd and 25th in pork. I honestly believed my chicken this week was better than my winning chicken at Blue Springs last year. It really isn't just the last two weeks... this year is horrible compared to last year. I guess I just assumed that working to improve and getting more experience all the time would naturally make this year even better than last year. Thank God I didn't have to do ribs and brisket these two contests or I would have been looking up from DAL! :roll: My apologies to Andy and Jeff for having to cook with me. :oops: GEEZ!!!

OK so I'm not trying to have a pity party here... I just was hoping that you guys had some answers for me. What do I do? What should I do to pull myself out of this farkin funk I seem to be in? Y'all are good at offering advice on lots of things. I'm hoping someone has an answer for this.

Smokin' Gnome BBQ
07-22-2007, 07:43 PM
I have only really had 1 good finish, a 4th in pork. As a new team I try to remember that the judges are just that judges. You cant figure them out so why try. I used to play double volleyball tounies until age and health took over, that you can pin point, what you screwed up, a bad play etc..this bbq thing is 1/2 luck and 1/2 skill I think,BUT ITS STIL ALOT OF FUN .CHEER UP AND LET THE DICE ROLL!!!

ZILLA
07-22-2007, 07:44 PM
Keep on truckin baby!!! You'll get into the pocket again. It may be time for a recipe change up is all I suspect.

Plowboy
07-22-2007, 08:04 PM
Jeff, all I can say is that I've been there. 2005 was a great year from our perspective. We had multiple calls in most of our contests and never finished lower than 18th in any contest. We won a grand at a small non sanctioned contest and ended the year with four top ten's and RGC (over Munchin Hogs of all people) at Liberty. It was the kind of progression that you want to see.

Then 2006 came. We started a bit lower and it got worse as we went along. 2006 ended in the same place that 2005 did: Liberty, MO. Instead of RGC, we got skunked... no calls. That hadn't happened for us since June of 2004, almost 2 1/2 years. 2006 ended in a very depressing way. Total opposite of 2005.

2007 started in North Kansas City where we ended 33rd out of almost 100 teams. We were fumbling all over ourselves. It was not encouraging and it felt like we had lost everything. Then we went to Mike Davis' class. We drove to Lynchburg and back. It gave us a lot of time to talk and focus on how we cooked. Mike's detailed and simplified process woke us up. We've changed a lot. Marshall, MO was our next contest and we walk with a 3rd in pork, then Sugar Creek (9th ribs, 10th brisket), then Platte City (2nd pork, 2nd chicken, 8th overall), then the GAB (okay we won't talk about the GAB), then BBQlossal (8th overall, 8th in pork - over 80 teams), Warrensburg (7th pork, 7th ribs, 6th dessert, 7th overall), and Burlington (3rd pork, 3rd cooks choice). Not only are we back to where we were in 2004, but we are improving. A GC is starting to seem possible again.

BBQ is like golf, IMHO. No matter how good you are, you get some bad rounds. No matter how bad you are, you can make some good shots. Look at what you are doing and see what changes you want to make. Change a few things and see if you like them.

Hang in there. I was talking with Don Will of Smokers Wild this weekend about how many good cooks there are on the circuit now. Five years ago it wasn't the same. I swear that we roll into a contest now, and I know that 50-75% of the field is going to kick my arse if I don't bring my A game. Its getting more competitive out there. That can be part of what you are feeling, too.

jpw23
07-22-2007, 08:11 PM
I don't do bbq comps. but, I used to do archery tournaments, motocross and hill climb comps. Its easy to get out of the pocket and really hard to get back on track. The thing that always worked for me was to get back to basics and work through whatever bad habits you picked up on the way, you can pick up habits and not even know it. Best of luck to you all!!!

Greatgrills
07-22-2007, 08:18 PM
practice, practice, practice.....Mark will cook almost everyweekend during the winter months and the weekends we dont cook the pit is usually fired up.

MilitantSquatter
07-22-2007, 08:22 PM
Jeff - Aside from the technique/recipes etc. aspect which probably is a factor in addition to luck, quality of other teams etc. I'll ask you this :

Are you having fun or has it become a job for to go out and perform ?

Maybe take a step back and think to how much fun it was when you first started. You can be focused and still have fun, but dreading every move you make to get a call can certainly take away from it all.

Just something else to consider. I'll never forget my HS coach taking out a football onto the field for us to practice with for a six hour practice session. Why is this weird ? Because we were the wrestling team that should have been hitting on all cylinders but we were tanking. We needed to mix it up. All the pressure went away and the next day, we cleaned up with everyone winning their matches against some of the best in the area.

Maybe next contest, still go out, try a few new things that you've always thought about trying, don't monitor every move etc. Just go out and cook well and stick to the basics and put together a nice box.. You just might be surprised. Even if it tanks you might have a blast, be able to laugh about it the following contest and then settle in to doing what you know how to do... put out good product that is capable of winning at any contest.

Good Luck...

SloppyQ
07-22-2007, 09:05 PM
Jeff, get over it and get on with it, you are doing alright, you are having fun I've been there when you were. I've / we have had the same problems recently but when we looked at our overall total points things have gone as expected and with a few small changes and some practice scores will get better. I personally think the competion has gotten better. Keep the chin up, go to Colorado and have fun come home safely. See ya when you get back, probably at Blue Springs.

HoDeDo
07-22-2007, 10:16 PM
We all want to do well. Lord knows I have had my ups and downs in 15 years of competing... But the #1 thing I never lose focus of: Have fun. Heck man, part of your score just comes from good ju-ju in your camp. Relax, feel good about you food and it will swing back your way. There are alot of Grand Champ teams out there now, that were scoring 10 years ago... and you never hear thier name. Some are making a comeback.... some new teams (Look and Bubba and Jeff!!!) are breaking through. I was so glad to hear Set it and Forget it got thier first GC this weekend. Darrell has earned it. Bub and Jeff have 3 this year... Your time will come. Just dont forget to enjoy this thing we have.

My best friends are 90% 'que-ers. I can't even imagine not having all the good times I've had. Heck, How did we meet!! Just relax and put on your best game. All you can do is put yourself in position. The Judges do the rest.

Quit apologizing to me about your scores in Warrensburg - If I was worried about your cooking I would have made you official pellet stirrer.:twisted: You don't have anything to apologize to me for.

Plowboy
07-22-2007, 10:51 PM
... made you official pellet stirrer.:twisted:

I'll stir your pellets in Columbia this weekend, Big Boy!!

VGuilford
07-23-2007, 08:43 AM
I'll stir your pellets in Columbia this weekend, Big Boy!!
OK I think your getting a little of the subject.


Jeff, I haven't known you guys that long but from what I can tell your a great bunch to be around. I don't compete so I can't offer any advice that already hasn't been given. The only thing I can say is the more time you stew about it the less time you have to fix it. I have learned a lot of stuff from you guys. I'm even thinking about entering a contest cause you guys look like you so much fun. And that's the key. You stop having fun then it becomes a job. And in most cases ppl hate their jobs. Stop worrying about it and have fun.

Fredbird
07-23-2007, 08:55 AM
Jeff, my advice to you is to drink heavily.:rolleyes:

Seriously, these guys have already said it, relax and have fun. You know you're a good cook! Just think of it this way, it will make that first GC that much sweeter.:-D

parrothead
07-23-2007, 09:10 AM
Yes, relax and make sure that you are still having fun. That is the most important thing to remember. Other than that, I don't know what to say except for maybe go back to the basics. What have you changed since starting out?

ique
07-23-2007, 09:24 AM
BBQ is like golf, IMHO.


It really is. For instance as you're about to drive a ball off the tee you can make all sorts of adjustments to 'fix' a slice. Chin up, elbow down, head still, loosen grip, bend knees etc. Next thing you know you are like a pretzel up on the tee box. Sometime you are better off just staying relaxed and 'grip and rip'... keep it simple.

Same deal with competition BBQ, you can lose your way with too many adjustments and tweaks. I've learned this the hard way a variety of times over the past 5-6 years I've been competing. Often the best briskets I cook are in my backyard where I rub, cook for 8-10 hrs unattended and thats it. I try to remind myself of that when I have the urge at a contest to spritz, check internals, baste etc.

The best way to fix your problem IMO is to simplify.... and cook as often as possible.


Its getting more competitive out there.

No doubt. With all the classes being held there are many more teams that have found consistency across the four categories. NEBS contest a few years ago there typically was 3 or 4 teams with a realistic shot at winning, now its more like 10-12 teams.

Sir Smoke A Lot
07-23-2007, 09:40 AM
Jeff - I can totally relate where you are at! I am pretty new at this. Last year, in my second ever comp, I got a 6th in Chicken. In my 3rd Comp, I got a 6th in Chicken and an 8th in Ribs. After that, I had a few disappointing entries - I knew my stuff was not that good. This last weekend, I felt I really had it goin on and the results were very disappointing. That being said, I had a great time and I am so happy I went! One thing I am going to do is judge a Comp in September. I have taken the class, but I have never judged. In the mean time, I am just going to go back to the old drawing board and tweak a few things. Keep the faith, brother!

Dustaway
07-23-2007, 09:44 AM
I have heard Mike Davis, Fast Eddy & other talk about the level of competition now days, I believe with web sites like this one and others that are out there the level of knowledge is greatly improved.

The learning curve has dramatically decreased thus resulting in the number of teams that can win on any given day.

I believe that being consistent and making minor changes plus tracking what you have done will help you more than anything.

Oh yea and keep you head up Jeff it will come around the first half of winning is believing that you can!

BBQ_Mayor
07-23-2007, 10:29 AM
Jeff, I'm there with ya. Can seam to figure it out. You have helped me with pork but I can't seam to get everything together at the same time.
I don't understand how the top teams keep going year after year. there is a secret they are not sharing.:eusa_clap

Solidkick
07-23-2007, 10:34 AM
Though I haven't cooked the number of contests this year as you have, ever since the contest at Sedalia, where I had my hopes set so high, the zest has just kind of left me.......I went there with a new cooker, only cooked on it one time, and expected it to cook just like the one I had been cooking on....wrong assumption....then I cooked the worst brisket of my life, and that really hurt my personal ego because I think of myself as a pretty damn good brisket cook....I haven't built a fire in any cooker since that weekend.
I've got to shake it off and get back in the game....these contests are what my bbq friends do, and I miss seeing my friends.....so Bo Co, here we come....we may get the Loosers trophy, but we'll be cooking!

bbqbull
07-23-2007, 10:42 AM
Jeff, ive had the chance to taste your food at G. Rapids last year as well as your ribs at the fall bash.
Awesome food IMHO.
Did you make any changes ie rubs or methods since then?
Did you recieve your judges comment cards and review them?
Did you change your meat supplier?
Just thinking out loud here brother.
Long story short, go back to the basics and see what happens.

Good Luck Brother!

bbqjoe
07-23-2007, 10:44 AM
Once again, I have never competed, But, if I was I would cook the good "Q" I know I make, then turn it in.
I wouldn't pay any attention to who's judging or what I might think the judges want other than a decent looking box with good food.
I'm sure it's a crap shoot for the most part.
So like the others said, make sure you're having fun and maybe quit trying so hard. Just turn in your Great "Q" all the time, and if it is great "Q" you should rise eventually.

My 2

YankeeBBQ
07-23-2007, 11:05 AM
Once again, I have never competed, But, if I was I would cook the good "Q" I know I make, then turn it in.
I wouldn't pay any attention to who's judging or what I might think the judges want other than a decent looking box with good food.
I'm sure it's a crap shoot for the most part.
So like the others said, make sure you're having fun and maybe quit trying so hard. Just turn in your Great "Q" all the time, and if it is great "Q" you should rise eventually.

My 2

While there's definately some luck involved in winning a bbq comp it's far from being a crapshoot. Just look at the record of some of the top teams which include several that post on this site. When you compete in a bbq competition it's all about what the judges like if you want to win. You have to be able to set your own preferences aside and cook what those judges want. You may think your chicken is the best in the world but if it doesn't do well at 2 or more comps then it's time to scrap it and start over.

Jeff_in_KC
07-23-2007, 01:00 PM
While there's definately some luck involved in winning a bbq comp it's far from being a crapshoot. Just look at the record of some of the top teams which include several that post on this site. When you compete in a bbq competition it's all about what the judges like if you want to win. You have to be able to set your own preferences aside and cook what those judges want. You may think your chicken is the best in the world but if it doesn't do well at 2 or more comps then it's time to scrap it and start over.

That's part of the frustration, Steve. I know judges are different at every contest but what I did Saturday I know without a doubt was my best. It was much better than the 1st place bird I did in Blue Springs last year where there was 76 teams. If judges are judging according to KCBS standards, that bird shouldn't go from 1st to 31st. That tells me they're judging according to their personal preferences as opposed to set guidelines and standards. I cooked the stuff the same as Cameron three weeks ago and was 10th there.

Thanks for all the advice, guys. Maybe the distraction of vending Q at Dillon will help me relax and do better in the contest out there. :wink:

SmokeInDaEye
07-23-2007, 01:21 PM
Good luck, Jeff. You obviously have the talent, just going through a rough patch. Keeping on plugging away and remember to have fun.

lunchlady
07-23-2007, 03:19 PM
Jeff, don't 'lose it"...

I agree with Steve, it isn't a crapshoot, but it is up to the judges at the table. I honestly thought our Q in Lake Placid should have had sparkles flying out of the box, we ended up the worst we have EVER placed...22nd out of 40ish. Sometimes you chalk it up and just get "tore down"!!

When we got DAL chicken in Douglas, GA last year, Steph from the Slabs had the advice that kept my man from slitting his throat...

"tomorrow is another day...you know you cook good Q, just do it again."

keep on keepin' on...you'll figure it out and in the meantime, good times and good friends are what REALLY matters.

see you at the Royal...

Bentley
07-23-2007, 04:00 PM
I will just echo the sentiments here, you roll the dice every contest! Use to excell in ribs, cant get a top ten this year to save my...Just keep plugin Brother, next one maybe the GC! :-D

spicewine
07-23-2007, 05:54 PM
Though I haven't cooked the number of contests this year as you have, ever since the contest at Sedalia, where I had my hopes set so high, the zest has just kind of left me.......I went there with a new cooker, only cooked on it one time, and expected it to cook just like the one I had been cooking on....wrong assumption....then I cooked the worst brisket of my life, and that really hurt my personal ego because I think of myself as a pretty damn good brisket cook....I haven't built a fire in any cooker since that weekend.
I've got to shake it off and get back in the game....these contests are what my bbq friends do, and I miss seeing my friends.....so Bo Co, here we come....we may get the Loosers trophy, but we'll be cooking!


Hey Girl Friends!!! Get your heads out of your Arses and Do What You Do Best!! Don't change a thing if you feel comfortable with it and it has won before!! You all know this. Team Q has had a roller coaster ride this year, but we sat down and decided that what we were turning in was the best that we could do. We were rewarded sometimes and spanked at other times. Just because you don't walk at one contest doesn't mean that the next week won't bare fruit. Grow a set and come and beat my Arse in Boone County......... I'm waiting.........

Spice

Jeff_in_KC
07-23-2007, 06:07 PM
:lol: You all are cracking my arse up! This is probably what I need to read. And Michelle, Steph told me similar today. Small doses of reality seem to make the day brighter. So does a couple of days removed from the contest. :lol: I guess if I look at it through the eyes of the philosophy I TRY to live by of "what you focus on expands", I'm bringing all this on myself by just SAYING I've lost it. By focusing on lost confidence, I'm perpetuating that. So I'm gonna go back and visualize previous calls I've gotten and feel how it felt in my mind and see if I can get back on track! Wow, didn't realize I'd need a shrink for BBQ! :lol: :lol: :lol:

spicewine
07-23-2007, 06:33 PM
I'll send you a Bill!!!! :twisted:

Welcome back to the real world!!!

Spice

Chris Nickelson
07-23-2007, 09:19 PM
Ya Jeff,
Don't get frustrated just take a step back and a deep breath and then plug away again. We haven't been on the circuit but only a few years and have gone from dead last to first back to dead last in yard bird. I believe its the most volatile catagory.

We've tried to stick with a set method and only change rubs once in a great while. Just trying to keep some type of consistency.

chris.

Big Dog Barbecue
07-24-2007, 11:40 AM
'Lost It' implies that you, at one time had it. That still puts you ahead of us.

We're still trying to 'Find it'.

Mooner
07-24-2007, 04:35 PM
Change everything and trade the Big Creek Spice in for a Lousiana Pellet Cooker!!! HAHAHA :twisted: . Sorry I couldn't help but to start some chit between Jeff and Andy.

Chris Nickelson
07-24-2007, 05:56 PM
I bet those tires are on backwards!
That's what did it! Darn spice"whiners"!!

just kiddin' Jeff.

Hey Bad Boys how do you like that peoria???

beam boys bbq
07-24-2007, 09:25 PM
been there brother

my wife said that i have never placed on my ice box
and my little smoker that i started with was the best place ments i have ever had

then i cooked with mark and beckey and relized that it was the smoker that i spent so mutch time making and desining was giving me crap meat

did the same thing that i have been doing for years on my new steel pit had an great weekend last week end

some times you just need and brother to set you back on the track
(mark and beckey did this for me )
some thing so simpel as the wrong metal in the pit :rolleyes:
:wink:

york

Hawgsnheifers
07-24-2007, 09:44 PM
That's part of the frustration, Steve. I know judges are different at every contest but what I did Saturday I know without a doubt was my best. It was much better than the 1st place bird I did in Blue Springs last year where there was 76 teams. If judges are judging according to KCBS standards, that bird shouldn't go from 1st to 31st. That tells me they're judging according to their personal preferences as opposed to set guidelines and standards. I cooked the stuff the same as Cameron three weeks ago and was 10th there.

Thanks for all the advice, guys. Maybe the distraction of vending Q at Dillon will help me relax and do better in the contest out there. :wink:

Jeff,

I hate to say this but one of the hings you said up there is the reason I have only competed once this year. I was so gung-ho early this year. Bought ez ups, camp kitchens, hot water heaters, a camper, went to Osage and turned in what all my family and friends from here to Fort Worth TX say is the best tasting Q they have ever had. (I tell them to be honest because I need to know.) I had an expectation to walk at my first comp. That was probably a mistake and I can live with that now, but the scores I got on the stuff I did just didn't make sense to me.

Then I read your post, go to your site and see all the comps you go to and all the time, travel and spend the big $$$ you spend competiting, and I figured out why I probably won't be an avid BBQ competitor. I cook all this food and let someone else eat it, judge it and never get any feedback, never be able to talk to them. All I get is a bunch of numbers and from that I have to figure out what to change.

So I made the decision that it was not worth the $500 bucks per comp to get no feedback, no gratification. So now I camp and boat all weekend, take the smokers and do up a bunch of Q, invite all my family and friends down for a big party, and get all the feedback I can handle, and I have fun.

So all I got to say Jeff is good luck to you and I hope you find that GC or RGC soon, but if you ain't havin fun, you better find something else to do. I was lucky cause it only took one comp for me to figure it out. I'm planning on doing the Osage comp each year just for the fun of it but other than that, it's a big BBQ party every other weekend at the lake.

Timmy
07-25-2007, 01:12 PM
We we at the same comp Jeff was at. I thought we really had something for them for pork and brisket. I knew the ribs were good. Our chicken always stinks. Anyway, we didnt score near what we should have with the pork and brisket..dont know why. I too was dissapointed with how we finished, but continue to hold my head high. I suggest you do the same Jeff. Remember...Never let em see ya sweat.

bbqjoe
07-25-2007, 01:47 PM
Hey Girl Friends!!! Get your heads out of your Arses and Do What You Do Best!! Don't change a thing if you feel comfortable with it and it has won before!! You all know this. Team Q has had a roller coaster ride this year, but we sat down and decided that what we were turning in was the best that we could do. We were rewarded sometimes and spanked at other times. Just because you don't walk at one contest doesn't mean that the next week won't bare fruit. Grow a set and come and beat my Arse in Boone County......... I'm waiting.........

Spice
What I was saying.

Greendriver
07-25-2007, 03:56 PM
I have heard Mike Davis, Fast Eddy & other talk about the level of competition now days, I believe with web sites like this one and others that are out there the level of knowledge is greatly improved.

The learning curve has dramatically decreased thus resulting in the number of teams that can win on any given day.

I believe that being consistent and making minor changes plus tracking what you have done will help you more than anything.



This was very well said and is ALL anyone needs to know about winning and losing contests.

Dale P
07-30-2007, 08:37 AM
This hobby of ours isnt cheap but what is. When we cooked at Sevierville we got beat up pretty bad but learned a good lesson. Everyone there wants to win as bad as us and raging hot chicken gets 40th place.

Puppyboy
08-01-2007, 11:10 AM
I am very new to the world of competative BBQ.

The two comps I have done, my two best finishes were 20th in ribs w/ 60 teams and 20th in pork w/ 36 teams.

I have had a few dead last entries and finished last overall once. That sucks but someone has to be last. I just did not want it to be me.

Having said that, I still love this new world and can't seem to get enough of it. When it is no longer fun for me, I will get out.

In judge class, we are told to be uniform and not use your personal tastes and preferences. This should put everyone on the same level. But everyone knows it happens anyway.

A judge told me one time he loves the "fall off the bone ribs" and scores them up. That's crap. I know he has never cooked before and probably does not realize he is actually screwing it up for the cooks who are bustin their arse to make "competition style ribs".

I am not a professional cook who does this for a living. If I was, maybe my view on things would change.

There is a BBQ joint here in town that has pretty good Q. He has never competed and says he never will. When asked why, he says he knows his stuff is good and there is no reason to compete.

Jeff, I have not lost it because I am still looking for it. Man I hope I find it soon.

Hawgs, don't be so rough on yourself. Your Q is good and you know it. As long as you and your family love what you cook, that's all that matters. Don't give up bro, keep on cooking.

Ok, the ramble is over.

QansasjayhawQ
08-03-2007, 11:19 PM
OK - let me get this straight . . .

We are all 'competing' for high placement in a competition where the product is 'objectively' judged. There are few 'standards' to meet and the most important element is pleasing the greatest number of people who may or may not understand slow smoke cooking or the KCBS 'guidelines'.

As far as I can tell, there's no way to accurately quantify the results as in whether the ball went into the goal or not. The 'numbers' in BBQ competition seem to be arbitrary and meaningless. More of a guideline.

Seems to me that the best anyone can hope for is to please yourself first with your product and then just have fun after that.

Hoping to be able to be 'competitive' in a subjective contest seems kinda silly to me.

Just my unsolicited $.02 -

Jeff_in_KC
08-04-2007, 05:22 PM
OK - let me get this straight . . .

We are all 'competing' for high placement in a competition where the product is 'objectively' judged. There are few 'standards' to meet and the most important element is pleasing the greatest number of people who may or may not understand slow smoke cooking or the KCBS 'guidelines'.

As far as I can tell, there's no way to accurately quantify the results as in whether the ball went into the goal or not. The 'numbers' in BBQ competition seem to be arbitrary and meaningless. More of a guideline.

Seems to me that the best anyone can hope for is to please yourself first with your product and then just have fun after that.

Hoping to be able to be 'competitive' in a subjective contest seems kinda silly to me.

Just my unsolicited $.02 -

Yeah but you're a Beaker so what do you know? :-P :-P :-P :lol:

QansasjayhawQ
08-06-2007, 06:57 AM
Yeah but you're a Beaker so what do you know? :-P :-P :-P :lol:

Hey! I resemble that remark . . .

:-D

But seriously, I've been thinking about this . . .

I have read the rules and it seems more like they are saying that our art work has to be in a certain type of frame, painted on a certain type of paper, and that the subject matter has to be one of or all four of the allowed subjects. But they say very little or nothing (that I can decipher) about how the art should look or, in our case, taste.

With that door standing wide open, how can anyone be upset at losing? I mean, sure, most folks are competitive and want to do well in a contest, but really we're up against a highly variable and subjective set of targets to hit. Seems to me that making ourselves happy first is the only way to avoid being upset.