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Todd Ras
10-28-2008, 03:01 PM
I have formed a BBQ team with 6 friends and have been practicing all year long and going to do some comps this next year. We thought it would be better off doing some practicing together for a year and get our cooking down (as much as we can) then jumping in head first into comps.

I'm just looking for any suggestions from you guys who do this all the time and have a ton of knowledge. I have learned so much in the few months I have been on here that its mind blowing, but doing comps is a different ball game.

So, any feedback or tips you have would be great!! I'm not asking for cooking secrets, but maybe info on scheduling, what to look out for at comps, what to bring and what we donít need...things like that would be greatly appreciated!!

I know there is nothing like learning on your own and I plan on taking my lumps as we go, just don't want to look like a fool out there (I don't need any more help in this catagory!! :-P)

Jacked UP BBQ
10-28-2008, 03:13 PM
You won't look like a fool. It's only BBQ, get out there and do your best. Do you, that's all you can do. Don't get frustrated, like NIKE said - JUST DO IT! good luck, you got it!!!

Lippy
10-28-2008, 03:16 PM
Beer, have fun, beer and relax. Stay cool and let it come to you.

tonto1117
10-28-2008, 03:23 PM
Hey Todd,if you haven't checked out the roadmap to competition BBQ section, it'a a good place to start.....has some good list's and other threads that will head you in the right direction. Other then that just read on brother..read on.....

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13677

Bentley
10-28-2008, 03:28 PM
Dont know how over the top you want to go?

If you want a small idea of what a competition is like these next few suggestions might help.

I will assume all of your team is fairly close? See if you can pick a family member with a home that might have a big lot or extra space on their property. Pick a weekend, act like it is a competition. Have the team show up. Set up, cook. Have the friend or relative act as the Rep. Have them inspect your meat, attend the cooks meeting at 7pm, get your turn-in boxes. If you think you will be at a contest that checks things like health regulations, have another friend or family member act as the health inspector and show up at a random time and check that. Cook like it is a contest, stay on site and cook, sleep on site if that is what you will do at a real contest, get the team timing down on shifts..see if you can hit the turn in times KCBS, FBA, IBCA...Make your boxes up, take pictures, take notes. Have your family and friends judge, get angry at the judge that gives you a 5...I digress. :>)

I dont know if that helps or not. To me it seems over the top, but it would probably give you an idea of where you are strong and where you are lacking.

Chipper
10-28-2008, 03:36 PM
I'm in a similar situation with plan to jump into competing next spring. I am doing lot's of research on cookers, and doing a lot of cooking on a ceramic at home. The suggestions I have seen and tips I have read really help a lot. I look forward to meeting at least a few of you in 2009 at the KCBS event in Salisbury MD.

Wine & Swine
10-28-2008, 03:42 PM
My advice is to be as organized as possible going in with a plan of who is doing what and when it is getting done. A few ideas that my brother, SmokeInDaEye (aka SIDE) has used and seem to be working well;
- Take notes on every practice cook (time, temps, weather, etc) and match these against results
- Make time tables for the cook (ie 9:00 start chimney, 10:00 put butts on, etc) this will keep you on schedule despite all of the excitement of the comp (and the beer that accompanies)
- Take photos of your food (especially turn in boxes) both as reference and for critique on the board
- With six team members I would assign jobs (brisket, chicken, turn in boxes, cleaning, etc) otherwise it can get confusing
- Make equipment lists and double check everything (it really sux to realize you are missing something at crunch time)
- When you are at the comp get out, socialize and ask questions (Saturday night is usually the best time for this)
- Most of all have fun

LindaM
10-28-2008, 03:46 PM
Wow trying your first at Salisbury, MD that looks to be a 100 team contest next year.
Talk about jumping in with both feet

Sticks-n-chicks
10-28-2008, 03:56 PM
Best thing I was told was to do was setup outside your house as if you are not at home and make sure you have everything you need. If you go inside for something it goes on the pack list. This helped me the most. But more importantly don't feel bad when you ask someone a question or two or three (if Andy or Kim read this they would say I asked more than 3) Your nieghbors are your friends and are good people who love to help out. Enjoy it...cause soon you will be like me and dreading the long winter!!!

BurntFinger_Jason
10-28-2008, 04:16 PM
We just started doing competitions this year, so here are a few tips we've picked up along the way. I wouldn't consider ourselves seasoned vets by any means, but these really helped smooth out our processes.

1. Keep a neat and organized work site, including plenty of table space. When turn in times come around, you'll want to know exact where all your supplies are in case they are needed.

2. Use raised tables to do all of your prep work. We learned this lesson the hard way, and my back is still feeling it. Next time you are at a competition, look at the legs of the prep tables that teams are using. Lots of them will have PVC risers that lift the table up. You'll have to buy a certain type of table that can be fitted with the risers, but you'll be much more comfortable while working.

3. Look into getting a Coleman hot water heater. This thing was recommended to us after our first competition, and it's a godsend. It basically gives you hot running water in your camp. They're a little pricey, but it makes cleanup and sanitation much easier.

4. Bring a really sharp knife for carving. Whether or not it's electric is up to you, just make sure it's sharp. I'd hate to see your future award winning BBQ get all torn up by a dull knife.

5. Purchase an atomic clock to display in your camp so that you can be synced up with the official turn in time. This will avoid any confusion on time and will be available for all to see. They have them at walmart for $15.

6. Get your garnish done early in the morning. This ended up taking us longer than we expected, so it's nice to have them done and waiting for the meat.

Just go ahead and take the leap of faith of entering your first competition. You'll learn way more by on-the-job experience than you will by reading and watching. Everyone is friendly, so just ask questions and you'll find out who's willing to help you out. Good luck!!!!

Transformer BBQ
10-28-2008, 04:18 PM
My advice is to be as organized as possible going in with a plan of who is doing what and when it is getting done. A few ideas that my brother, SmokeInDaEye (aka SIDE) has used and seem to be working well;
- Take notes on every practice cook (time, temps, weather, etc) and match these against results
- Make time tables for the cook (ie 9:00 start chimney, 10:00 put butts on, etc) this will keep you on schedule despite all of the excitement of the comp (and the beer that accompanies)
- Take photos of your food (especially turn in boxes) both as reference and for critique on the board
- With six team members I would assign jobs (brisket, chicken, turn in boxes, cleaning, etc) otherwise it can get confusing
- Make equipment lists and double check everything (it really sux to realize you are missing something at crunch time)
- When you are at the comp get out, socialize and ask questions (Saturday night is usually the best time for this)
- Most of all have fun

Most of all... stay sober and bring a fire extinguisher.
-good to see you last weekend John.

Transformer BBQ
10-28-2008, 04:21 PM
Also... if you are doing the practice contest at home thing... there is no reason your turn ins can't be at dinner time... and you start cooking early in the morning. and just do everything accordingly (change your clocks if you really want to be matched up)...

That way you don't completely fark up your sleep cycle for the weekend... save that for real life contests.

BurntFinger_Jason
10-28-2008, 04:24 PM
I forgot the best piece of advice that we received....once you are a big time famous BBQer winning the Royal, be sure to continue helping the new teams the same way you were helped. :)

Wine & Swine
10-28-2008, 04:32 PM
Most of all... stay sober and bring a fire extinguisher.


Oh this would lead to two other points;
- Do not get REALLY (I mean REALLY) drunk and kick over your smoker (loaded with butts & brisket) in the middle of the night even though it will result in possible divorce (if you are cooking with your spouse), some really great excitement/stories for your neighbors and better scores
- Do not wear shoes and learn to walk on hot coals

Solidkick
10-28-2008, 04:39 PM
Try to take a KCBS judging class if possible........

oceanpigassassins
10-28-2008, 04:50 PM
Just go out there and try it's the only way to learn.We still learn something new every time.For the most part everybody is real helpfull

watg?
10-28-2008, 08:07 PM
Try to take a KCBS judging class if possible........


Great suggestion...oh yea...have fun!:-D:-P:lol::icon_smil

Todd Ras
10-29-2008, 08:38 AM
Thanks guys for the tips!! I'm not sure which contests we might do next year (around the KC area i'm sure) but I hope I get a chance to meet and share a drink with you!!

Just Pulin' Pork
10-29-2008, 09:27 AM
Thanks guys for the tips!! I'm not sure which contests we might do next year (around the KC area i'm sure) but I hope I get a chance to meet and share a drink with you!!

Todd have you been introduced to the Kansas City BBQ Society website. They will have a list of all the competitons. It gets updated throughout the winter but it is a great resource for information. Here is the link if you do not have it.

http://www.kcbs.us/

BurntFinger_Jason
10-29-2008, 11:15 AM
Thanks guys for the tips!! I'm not sure which contests we might do next year (around the KC area i'm sure) but I hope I get a chance to meet and share a drink with you!!

Be sure to enter the Royal. You'll end up kicking yourself if you don't.

Sticks-n-chicks
10-29-2008, 11:36 AM
Be sure to enter the Royal. You'll end up kicking yourself if you don't.


Gee Rub it in why don't you....

BurntFinger_Jason
10-29-2008, 11:51 AM
Gee Rub it in why don't you....

Case and point!!!! :lol:

Todd Ras
10-29-2008, 11:55 AM
We will end at the Royal I think......not sure which will be our first but i'm sure it will be something small around the KC area (if there is a small one around here).

I'm try to find an enclosed trailer right now or we might have to carry all our gear!!

BurntFinger_Jason
10-29-2008, 01:29 PM
I wouldn't worry too much about finding a "small" competition to start with. Just pick one that has a convenient date and location. Like someone else already said, the KCBS website has all of them listed. Good luck!!!

Dale P
10-29-2008, 02:25 PM
Beer, have fun, beer and relax. Stay cool and let it come to you.


There goes Matt giving away another one of our secrets.:-D

He is right you know. But he forgot to tell you to have good recipes and your timing down. Have a goal. Our first goal was to NOT come in last.

HBMTN
10-30-2008, 07:45 PM
First competition, go have a good time and see what it is all about and your #1 goal for the weekend is getting your meats turned in on time. If you do that then you did great! If you place then it is a bonus.

TELL YOU WHAT BBQ
10-30-2008, 08:03 PM
We just started Comp. this past summer. We rolled in and were like...DANG.. we are 'ghetto'! with our 'driveway smokers'. BOTTOM LINE...! 12:30, 1pm, etc... don't matter what the rig is. The judges only see Q in a box. That's what it comes down to...Q IN A BOX. You get crazy, frazzled, overanalytical.

It's BBQ. ENJOY...drink some beer -- share with your neighbor -- and have fun. If the dudes next to you are 'all business' -- move to the next set-up and introduce yourself. Everybody is good people and willing to help.

The guy next to you could tell you 'his secrets' :icon_wink -- bottom line, you still have to cook yourself. AND...if the judges don't like it...YOU WILL!!

p.s. -- did I mention bring EXTRA BEER for your neighbor?

deez20
10-30-2008, 10:19 PM
A friend and me just did our first comp last weekend. We didn't do any practice cooks or anything as I didn't know until about the week before that he was still doing it with me and we got everything done and turned in on time. We both had a great time despite the wind and rain and can't wait to start again next year. The one thing for next year though is that we need to be more organized. A bunch of teams had rubbermaid storage bins all labeled up nice and pretty and our stuff was all over the place which made it kinda hectic looking for things. We had 3 tables setup and still didn't seem to have enough room. I don't know what you have for smokers but we had 3 and felt we needed more or at least something bigger to hold all of the meat. We used a WSM, large BGE and a brinkman water smoker. We had 2 butts on the weber, 2 briskets on the egg, 6 racks of ribs on the brinkman and eventually 20 thighs on the egg. These are all kinda small smokers so my buddy is looking to get a char-broil offset which will definitly help or we could just use less meat. Everyone around us was nice and friendly and answered any questions we had. My only regret is that we started so late in the season, now we have a few months to wait before we can compete again.

PatioDaddio
10-30-2008, 11:00 PM
I've only been competing (KCBS) for three years, but here are my pointers:

1) Develop a comprehensive competition checklist. Here's mine (http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pt_uavAC5mGFvCj1eSkhPCA). Note the "H" and "L" columns. "H" means I have it, and "L" means I've loaded it in the truck. I use it as a combination shopping/locating and packing list.

2) Build a BBQ library and read, read and read some more. I highly recommend Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue (http://www.amazon.com/Paul-Kirks-Championship-Barbecue-Lip-Smackin/dp/1558322426) and Smoke & Spice (http://www.amazon.com/Smoke-Spice-Barbecue-Charcoal-Wood-Burning/dp/155832061X) as starters.

3) Develop your flavor profiles and processes (methods and timing). Document these and note any deviations and the results. Bottom line: keep good notes.

4) As others have said, practice is worth its weight in walks.

5) Get out there and compete. Starting in competition is much like getting married or having your first kid. If you wait until you're "ready", you'll never be ready.

I hope this helps,
John

KC_Bobby
10-31-2008, 08:53 AM
I'm try to find an enclosed trailer right now or we might have to carry all our gear!!

Hold that thought for a week or two. I hope to have a 6x12 to sell. PM me for details if that size interests you.

Chris Nickelson
10-31-2008, 10:45 AM
Todd,
when you guys get a schedule in mind look us up and we can at least tell you what NOT to do. we've got that down. ha ha.
If at all possible try to do the North KC comp. and maybe we can get set up in close proximity and be available to answer any questions that come up. You can fire an email at me at chris at dodgecountysmokers dot com.
But like everyone said above just jump in, you'll have a blast.