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View Full Version : Quick question on minutiae in a competition


volkanator
09-22-2009, 03:57 PM
I am getting ready to compete in my first ever KCBS event in Sayville next month. My buddy and I have competed in one event in our lives and it was rank amateur stuff compared to KCBS.

Anyway I've been doing my reading and I have a couple questions...

What's with this putting green/fairway stuff? I know that appearance is part of the judging but isn't the judging supposed to be on the meat and not the garnish?

I've seen some other comments about imperfectly straight cuts and meat that wasn't quite shiny enough.....

I'm all for cooking the heck out of meat but at what point does it become too much? Does the minutiae really make that much of a difference? Or are people maybe fooling themselves a bit into thinking they are subliminally mind controlling the judges or something?

What do the rules say about how to judge the meat? Does it say "a nice fairway gets you X amount of bonus points" or something?

I have this argument with my cooking partner all the time. He is all about making money no object when it comes to cooking. I am constantly pleading with him to be reasonable. I know taste is the ultimate decider but even there I think there has to be a point where too much is too much.

For example, he always likes to fill the water bowl in the WSM with a big container of apple juice. I think water is fine and if there is a microscopic difference I dont think it'd even be a blip on the judges scorecard and certainly not worth the (insert whatever a jug of apple juice costs) added expense which adds up considering all the practice cooks on all the different types of meats.

What do you guys think? And please don't mistake my trying to be practical for not having a love for the game. I'm obsessed with BBQ. I just like to focus on the BBQ part and not the ancillary stuff.

Maybe the answer is we need to add more members to our team to worry about that stuff. ;-)

watertowerbbq
09-22-2009, 04:41 PM
This is my $0.02

Most of the comments regarding how nice the parsely looks or how good the ribs were sliced are all appearance point items. The appearance points are the easiest points to get, if you take the time to make things look nice. Ribs cut razor sharp and straight look nicer than ribs that aren't. I look at it this way, the appearance points alone won't be enough to win you the contest, but it can separate you from those who cooked about as well as you did. Since I know I'm not the best cook out there, I figure these points are for the taking and can only help my overall score.

As far as expenses go, I take some pride in the fact that I've scored well at a contest with nothing more than a couple of canopies, a couple of WSM's and everything else I needed all packed neatly in my pickup truck. What I'm trying to say is that spending a lot of money won't necessarily make you a better cook. Practice is the only thing that will make you a better cook. If you can taste a difference between a water pan filled with water vs a water pan with apple juice then maybe it's worth the money. Personally, I don't think it would, but who I am to say. My advice would be that if you can see tangible difference between finished products by adding a step that may cost additional money, then you should consider spending the money. But if you are doing something because you saw another good team do it or you saw it on Food Network and you aren't tasting or seeing the benefit of it, I'd consider removing it and the associated cost.

U2CANQUE
09-22-2009, 04:47 PM
isn't the judging supposed to be on the meat and not the garnish? ah, if you only knew how many threads this has covered.....but, some things that you can do with garnish help your meat look better....hence raising appearance scores....and believe me, every .10 of a point can count in the long run.....should it be just about the meat, yes, is it always, no

I've seen some other comments about imperfectly straight cuts and meat that wasn't quite shiny enough..... I take my knives to a stone wet grinder before each contest just so my cuts, in all cuts of meat are as clean as possible, does it make a difference, look at a uneven cut piece of meat and one that looks like it was cut with a laser, and tell me which one you would want to eat first....

I'm all for cooking the heck out of meat but at what point does it become too much? Does the minutiae really make that much of a difference? Or are people maybe fooling themselves a bit into thinking they are subliminally mind controlling the judges or something?
tell a majopr league athlete that the routines that they do are all for not....I do a lot of the things that I do because it is routine, does it all matter in the long run, probably not, some things are vital for flavor profile, and appearance, but, some things are like stepping out of the batters box and tapping the cleats 3 times (just like I did in little league...like my hero of the day, Steve Garvey did)...

What do the rules say about how to judge the meat? Does it say "a nice fairway gets you X amount of bonus points" or something?
nope, there are teams that win without doing that at all.....chime in Lunchmeat......but, if you ask 95 out of 100 will do it, so, could be something to it....

I have this argument with my cooking partner all the time. He is all about making money no object when it comes to cooking. I am constantly pleading with him to be reasonable. I know taste is the ultimate decider but even there I think there has to be a point where too much is too much. bottom line, yes.....


Just remember, have fun, and let everything else come with experience!!!

Buster Dog BBQ
09-22-2009, 04:52 PM
My thought is if you have a very uniform looking box where the meat sits high on the parsley and looks great, then the judges will not only give the appearance points, but will mentally think it taste better than it is.

MilitantSquatter
09-22-2009, 06:10 PM
This is my $0.02

Most of the comments regarding how nice the parsely looks or how good the ribs were sliced are all appearance point items. The appearance points are the easiest points to get, if you take the time to make things look nice. Ribs cut razor sharp and straight look nicer than ribs that aren't. I look at it this way, the appearance points alone won't be enough to win you the contest, but it can separate you from those who cooked about as well as you did. Since I know I'm not the best cook out there, I figure these points are for the taking and can only help my overall score.

As far as expenses go, I take some pride in the fact that I've scored well at a contest with nothing more than a couple of canopies, a couple of WSM's and everything else I needed all packed neatly in my pickup truck. What I'm trying to say is that spending a lot of money won't necessarily make you a better cook. Practice is the only thing that will make you a better cook. If you can taste a difference between a water pan filled with water vs a water pan with apple juice then maybe it's worth the money. Personally, I don't think it would, but who I am to say. My advice would be that if you can see tangible difference between finished products by adding a step that may cost additional money, then you should consider spending the money. But if you are doing something because you saw another good team do it or you saw it on Food Network and you aren't tasting or seeing the benefit of it, I'd consider removing it and the associated cost.

Well said..great reply.

Ron_L
09-22-2009, 06:27 PM
Does the minutiae really make that much of a difference?

When 1/1000 of a point can sometimes make the difference between GC and RGC the minutiae are the things that separate the good teams from the great teams. Yes, your food has to be perfectly cooked and seasoned, but if two teams turn in perfectly cooked and seasoned food and one has done the little things that earns them 9s in appearance and the other team hasn't and gets 8s, who wins?

The_Kapn
09-22-2009, 07:02 PM
When 1/1000 of a point can sometimes make the difference between GC and RGC the minutiae are the things that separate the good teams from the great teams. Yes, your food has to be perfectly cooked and seasoned, but if two teams turn in perfectly cooked and seasoned food and one has done the little things that earns them 9s in appearance and the other team hasn't and gets 8s, who wins?

That's most of it in a nutshell.
"Attention to detail" in all areas is what seperates the winners from the others.
The level of competetion is so high.......

Good luck,

TIM

Double D's BBQ
09-22-2009, 07:20 PM
When 1/1000 of a point can sometimes make the difference between GC and RGC the minutiae are the things that separate the good teams from the great teams. Yes, your food has to be perfectly cooked and seasoned, but if two teams turn in perfectly cooked and seasoned food and one has done the little things that earns them 9s in appearance and the other team hasn't and gets 8s, who wins?

Don't even get me started. I'll see your 1/1000 of a point and raise you one! How about 6/10,000 of a point!:evil:

Ron_L
09-22-2009, 09:13 PM
Actually I meant 1/10000 of a point. Anything less than a point is frustrating!

Sledneck
09-22-2009, 09:53 PM
I dont like the word minutiae , am i alone in thinking this?

Alexa RnQ
09-22-2009, 11:30 PM
BBQ itself is a game of minutiae, if by minutiae you mean "attention to detail". There are so many variables, so many tiny details that the entire focus is to get them all right at the same time, across four meats, on one day.

At a beginning level, the bigger picture of just getting the meat cooked right on a consistent basis is more important. After that level of proficiency has been reached, then yes, the details do become significant.

Lake Dogs
09-23-2009, 06:35 AM
I think most everyone said it one way or another. In essence, YES, sweat the details.

Appearance has a weighting factor (in score) of 0.57, whereas taste is 2.28 and
tenderness is 1.14. Using these, taste is 5 times more important than appearance.

Please realize, this IS a competition. This isn't bringing a few friends over for beers
and grilling out on the back porch. Many competitors do this for a living (BBQ I
mean). I can tell you from sitting on the judges side of the fence for many years,
it's always surprised me just how many people dont get that part. That's why the
teams that win consistently, win consistently. Different judges, different venues,
different regional tastes, the winning teams consistently place high in most
competitions (everyone having a bad outing once in a while). These teams know
that it is a competition and that you live and die by the details.

Efforts being efforts, make sure that your Q is the best it can be on that day.
Then sweat the presentation.


And, judges are instructed to disregard the garnish and only judge the appearance
of the meat. The problem is they're being asked to do something that no human
can do 100%. Garnish brings color, and color (and texture, etc) influence how
something looks and is interpreted by the eye (we have eyes, dont we?). Better
to put meat in the box with no garnish than to put it in there with sloppy, wilted,
or brown garnish. However, if you can get a nice green "frame" around your meat,
the contrasting green will help bring out the nice warm reds of the meat (ie. help
your appearance scores, whether it's supposed to or not).

Skip
09-23-2009, 06:52 AM
Why is a judge accused of judging the garnish when marking a garnished box well. To offer someone a better way to view the product you are creating a better appearance. The garnish helps present the food but the food is being marked. As much as everyone wants to say it I find it hard to believe that any judge gives extra point just because the box has greens. They may give better marks to the meat because of how well it was presented but thats judging the meat not the garnish. Instead of the styro box as the presentation case the styro box and garnish become the presentation case. If it looks better it looks better. It doesn't mean they are marking the garnish.

Ford
09-23-2009, 06:57 AM
It's your first contest. If you try to worry about every little thing you will mess up on a big one and it will really cost you. Do what you do cooking now. I assume you have done one or two practice sessions to get your timing down. If you can make time to do 4 nice parsley boxes they will make a difference. You can make them Friday evening and keep them in a cooler overnight. Of course that means less party time but are you there to party or get the best possible result. Only you can answer that.

As for apple juice rather then water the cost is a couple of dollars vs. $4-500 you're spending on the contest so if your partner thinks it makes a diference go with it.

When it's over ask yourself if you thought you did a good job of cooking and if you thought the meat was as you planned. If the answer is yes then you had a good contest no matter what the judges think. If the scores were all low then maybe you need to talk with teams, judge a few contests, take a class or something.

Have fun.

Skip
09-23-2009, 07:01 AM
Oh careful on the apple juice in the water pan. If you let it get to a slurry the sugars can burn and leave a horrible taste on your food. Please don't ask how I know this. :lol:

watg?
09-23-2009, 07:52 AM
what they said: "attention to detail"

Lake Dogs
09-23-2009, 08:12 AM
Please don't ask how I know this. :lol:

Dont most of us learn these lessons the hard way?

early mornin' smokin'
09-23-2009, 08:13 AM
im with sled

volkanator
09-23-2009, 10:12 AM
Good stuff guys. This was really helpful