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View Full Version : What I like..., Judges don't??..


BBQ_Mayor
06-17-2009, 09:53 PM
I've been following a post The lost and confused BBQ Competitor! (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=63706)
like many have been as well.
Some of the answers, tips and/or advice got me to thinking of what I turn in.

Many of you said, "its not what you like, but what the judges like". Also, many of you said if you had what you thought was the best Q you have made, it usually scored low and what you thought was bad scored high.

This has happened to me many times as well and wonder why? I'm a judge and I like what I cook, why would it be any different for another judge?
It's hard for me to cook something that I don't think is good. How do you get around that? Speaking of "lost and confused BBQ Competitor" I'm lost and confused as to why this happens.

I'll get off my soap box now, thanks for listening.

Dale P
06-17-2009, 10:44 PM
I get you. I know exactly what you are saying. In fact, our team turns in exactly what we like and hope for the best.

McClung
06-17-2009, 10:50 PM
I was told in a CASI chili class, it doesn't matter what you like, it matters what the judges like, you always gotta cook for what the majority of judges like. I like my Texas Red with less chili powder than what we were told to put in but the stronger stuff seemed to be what everyone else liked, so the point was proven.

I took my judging class mainly to get some insight as to what judges were looking for. It was surprising to me what some of the other judges were considering 8s and 9s.
I changed everything to middle of the road traditional, guess we'll see how that works out at a comp I have on the 27th!

KC_Bobby
06-17-2009, 10:54 PM
I'm a judge and I like what I cook, why would it be any different for another judge? It's hard for me to cook something that I don't think is good.


Let's remember that if you are scoring over a 140 (777 average) that the judges do like your food. The 7 is above average.

I think the "judges didn't like what I cooked" line actually means "the judges don't think mine is as good as what they have tasted from other competitors in the past"

Maybe a better way to say it is - we all like our barbeque but then we find tweaks to it that we like better or even taste others barbeque that we like better then our own. Why should judges be different? (And I don't mean in a way to compare it against other entries)

Does that make sense?

I guess what I'm saying is that when a competitor finds something that the judges consistently like, I think the competitor ends up liking that flavor profile too*. It's just a matter of finding it.

* Disclaimer - may not apply to chicken and regional flavor profiles are taken into consideration

Rookie'48
06-18-2009, 12:53 AM
Ray, the judges are supposed to judge on how the cook presented the entry, not on how the judge's personal tastes run. That being said, most judges have only their own "tastes" to go by. Personally, I enjoy seeing what a cook can do with the entry, hot, sweet, tangy, etc.
However I think that I am in the minority on this, as I have heard quite a few comments saying basically "that's not what I like" or "that's not what I'm used to". Untill or unless more judges are willing to give an honest grade to the entry "as presented" as opposed to their own pre-conceived notions, then I guess that sticking to the middle of the road is your best bet.
OK, off of my soapbox now :rolleyes:.

BBQ_Mayor
06-18-2009, 06:45 AM
Your right Bob. It's more.. what can be added to middle of the road Q to make the judges say wow!. I don't know.

Yes, Dave, I plan on sticking to the middle of the road. I don't think I have a choice. Just need to find that little thing for the judges. I heard you guys take cash?:mrgreen::wink:

If there is any doubt about the catagory in which I'm talking, it's pork.:icon_sick

Divemaster
06-18-2009, 09:06 AM
I'm with you too... But I do cook for the judges and not myself.

The primary reason is that the food I cook for me, my friends, and customers is served hot. Always hot.

After last year I decided to do a little experiment. I made up boxes and put them into the fridge over night, prepared the food just like I would do in a comp, put it in the chilled boxes (I let them warm for 30 minutes on the counter), let it sit for 10 minutes (runner time, waiting for a table, display for appearance), and then tried it. You know what? I didn't care for it either...:eek::eek::eek:

When the meat had chilled down, both the flavor profile and texture changed dramatically!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you need to taste what the judges taste...

musicmanryann
06-18-2009, 09:19 AM
It is this very subject that keeps me up at night and fills idle moments during my day. I do agree that if I were to put in the box what I preferred for Q it would not score well. I prefer extra-spicy and savory bbq more than sweet and tangy. On the other hand, I don't necessarily think that the opposite what I personally like in a bbq flavor profile will be what the judges are looking for either. You have to like and be proud of the product you are delivering to the judges, even if it can't be your ultimate recipe that wakes you up in the middle of the night salivating.

You can call it finding middle of the road if you want, but I prefer to think of it as achieving a balance and harmony of flavors between sweet, smoky, tangy, spicy, and salty/savory. No single flavor dominating over the other, but each one complementing and enhancing the next--and ultimately holding on a pedestal the most important ingredient, the meat.

KC_Bobby
06-18-2009, 09:59 AM
If there is any doubt about the catagory in which I'm talking, it's pork.:icon_sick

I didn't think you were talking about your chicken or ribs.:wink:

monty3777
06-18-2009, 10:08 AM
Ray, the judges are supposed to judge on how the cook presented the entry, not on how the judge's personal tastes run. That being said, most judges have only their own "tastes" to go by. Personally, I enjoy seeing what a cook can do with the entry, hot, sweet, tangy, etc.
However I think that I am in the minority on this, as I have heard quite a few comments saying basically "that's not what I like" or "that's not what I'm used to". Untill or unless more judges are willing to give an honest grade to the entry "as presented" as opposed to their own pre-conceived notions, then I guess that sticking to the middle of the road is your best bet.
OK, off of my soapbox now :rolleyes:.

I took a CBJ class in February and was blow away at how much I DIDN'T learn. I took the class hoping to get a better insight into what judges are looking for and came away very disappointed. For the most part we learned things like "pink chicken does not mean raw chicken." We also learned how to fill out the forms. Maybe I'm missing something but I came away from the class assuming that most judges don't know a burnt end from a brown eye. That's not meant as a criticism - but a simple statement of fact. So I suppose the best thing is to keep from challenging the typical judge's palate too much.

Please correct me if I'm wrong. I only have 2 comps under my belt so perhaps I'm missing something.

stlgreg
06-18-2009, 11:34 AM
I took a CBJ class in February and was blow away at how much I DIDN'T learn. I took the class hoping to get a better insight into what judges are looking for and came away very disappointed. For the most part we learned things like "pink chicken does not mean raw chicken." We also learned how to fill out the forms. Maybe I'm missing something but I came away from the class assuming that most judges don't know a burnt end from a brown eye. That's not meant as a criticism - but a simple statement of fact. So I suppose the best thing is to keep from challenging the typical judge's palate too much.

Please correct me if I'm wrong. I only have 2 comps under my belt so perhaps I'm missing something.

It really took me 7-9 contests before I really started to learn from judging and i have LEARNED from judging. I dont just take a bite of something and give it a number but try to figure out why it got that number.

HBMTN
06-18-2009, 11:50 AM
All I have to go on is what people around home tell me about my BBQ. I do realize that your friends and family will lie to you to keep from hurting your feelings. But I am constantly getting calls from people I know begging to know when I am cooking again so they can buy my BBQ because they like it so much. I sell them the meat and sauce I compete with and they pay me good money for it so I can't imagine they don't like it. I too agree about the judging classes. I was shocked at what some people in the class were giving 8's and 9's to what I thought was flavorless. Maybe flavorless is the goal, if they can't put a finger on too spicy, sweet, tangy, saltly then you get a good score.

CivilWarBBQ
06-18-2009, 12:49 PM
All I have to go on is what people around home tell me about my BBQ. I do realize that your friends and family will lie to you to keep from hurting your feelings. But I am constantly getting calls from people I know begging to know when I am cooking again so they can buy my BBQ because they like it so much. I sell them the meat and sauce I compete with and they pay me good money for it so I can't imagine they don't like it. I too agree about the judging classes. I was shocked at what some people in the class were giving 8's and 9's to what I thought was flavorless. Maybe flavorless is the goal, if they can't put a finger on too spicy, sweet, tangy, saltly then you get a good score.


Remember that practically everybody who tries competitive cooking tells the same story of "how everybody loves my food". That's great, but frankly it doesn't amount to a hill of beans on the Pro circuit. You have to learn to cook to meet the expectations of the judges FIRST, and then add just enough of your own individual style to set yourself apart without being TOO different.

Yep, it's not easy and often frustrating, but that's what makes it challenging. If it was easy to hit the mark every time, we'd all get bored and quit competing!

HBMTN
06-18-2009, 01:07 PM
That is kind of the point I was trying to make CivilWar is that KCBS Judges are every day people not some big time pro judge with a Ph.D in BBQ. I wonder how many judges are people that have a contest near where they live and signed up so they could judge the one contest near them per year and get free bbq. People that judge 5-10 comp's or more per year who are master judges could be put into an entirely different group. The contest I judged had 42 judges, 8 of which were not CBJ's, and I would say about 8-10 of them were people that just all over and were master judges or close (based on the ones who said they judged often), I believe it was about 6-10 who were first time judges, and 2 judges who also competed on the circuit and the rest in the middle somewhere. So approx 2/3's of the judges at this event were every day people with no special trained pallette other than they like BBQ. This was only one event and may not be the norm but it was what I experienced.

Skip
06-18-2009, 01:31 PM
So approx 2/3's of the judges at this event were every day people with no special trained pallette other than they like BBQ.

I think this is it in a nutshell. 2/3's of the judges think Famous Dave's is good. So what will they think of a Memphis dry rub rib....probably not much. What do they expect? A red sauce sticky sweet rib that falls off the bone. Pulled pork should be a mess of gooey strings in a soup of BBQ sauce. They are use to their local joint. Maybe you could get in town early and see what their local joint serves.
I went through about 6 or so contests trying to make my dry rub ribs better. I realized it was never going to work. They were wonderful but not what was expected. It goes back to eating with your eyes. The judges didn't know better so they saw it as no good and the scores followed suit. My wife decided to make a sticky sweet red slather rib and it hit. It was what I called "cookie-cutter Q" Its what you see at every so called BBQ joint.

McClung
06-18-2009, 06:02 PM
^^^^^^ guy up here who's won plenty (he's done MIM, RO, and all that) told me that the secret to the judges up here is to just put a sweet sauce on everything.