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O-Town
02-02-2010, 01:32 PM
Gentleman, I hope this is the right spot for this post. My question is this:
Concerning competitive cooking. What kind of cost are involved to get ones self going in the competitions? I have the gear to smoke with and have read up on just about everything I can. The closest answer I have found is it can be high! I am mostly interested for now in the "backyard style events" until I can prove myself worthy of going up against the "pros".....Thanks in advance....:-D

HUCKS
02-02-2010, 02:06 PM
the highest cost will be the meat you cook and the entry fee.the entry fee will vary by the comp.i still do back yard and might spend right about 300.00 for the meat and entry fee.

Lake Dogs
02-02-2010, 02:07 PM
If you're asking about costs to participate, we budget $850 per competition that's
within a few hours drive. If it's longer, as we're hauling an RV plus a van, the gasoline
costs can jump. As only about $250 of that are entry fees, and the entry fees
can come pretty close to that in some backyard events, I wouldn't focus on only
backyard events even when you get started.

In an earlier post I itemized the actual costs, and it's almost always right at $850.

In KCBS, you'll want 3 racks of ribs, possibly a few more. You'll want a minimum of
12 pieces of chicken (usually thighs), but we go with 16+-. I've heard about folks
going with just 1 brisket; we always do 2 unless the guy gives me a great deal, then
we'll get a 3rd just because we enjoy eating BBQ'd beef. We always do 3 pork
butts; some just do 2.

FBA pretty much same as above. MBN... 12-15 racks of ribs, 6-8 whole pork
shoulders, and a whole hog. I suggest NOT starting with MBN.

SirPorkaLot
02-02-2010, 02:18 PM
I have to agree with Lake Dogs.

I figured our first competiton (which was a backyard event) was going to cost about 300.00.
It ended up closer to 700 or 800

The reason?

it was my first comp. so I (wisely) spent several weeks prior to the comp. practicing with comp. quality meats.

So not only do I have to buy meat for the comp. I had to buy fuel (charcoal, wood, etc) & meat for the practice cooks

of course you also have your rubs..spices are not cheap.

and then there is the beer.....

HUCKS
02-02-2010, 02:22 PM
in my estimate of 300.00 that did not include the beer.with beer it does get very expensive

O-Town
02-02-2010, 02:23 PM
Wow, I had a feeling it could run up there in cost...but I reckon it ain't much different than me spending 4 to 5 hundred on a weekend fishing jaunt.:grin: Can I assume most of you have sponsors or perhaps y'all split the cost as a team?

chopshop
02-02-2010, 02:24 PM
If you're asking about costs to participate, we budget $850 per competition that's
within a few hours drive. If it's longer, as we're hauling an RV plus a van, the gasoline
costs can jump. As only about $250 of that are entry fees, and the entry fees
can come pretty close to that in some backyard events, I wouldn't focus on only
backyard events even when you get started.

In an earlier post I itemized the actual costs, and it's almost always right at $850.

In KCBS, you'll want 3 racks of ribs, possibly a few more. You'll want a minimum of
12 pieces of chicken (usually thighs), but we go with 16+-. I've heard about folks
going with just 1 brisket; we always do 2 unless the guy gives me a great deal, then
we'll get a 3rd just because we enjoy eating BBQ'd beef. We always do 3 pork
butts; some just do 2.

FBA pretty much same as above. MBN... 12-15 racks of ribs, 6-8 whole pork
shoulders, and a whole hog. I suggest NOT starting with MBN.

hes absolutely dead on with the amounts and the costs

Ron_L
02-02-2010, 02:27 PM
So far the guys have given you the costs for a comp. Have you also factored in the startup costs for equipment? You mentioned that you have the smokers, but how about the other stuff? EZ-up, tables, bus tubs, etc? Don't forget those.

Lake Dogs
02-02-2010, 02:27 PM
Yes, when I was talking about $850, that included food, beer, gasoline (for the autos),
charcoal, meat, spices, broth/injections, etc. etc. Soup to nuts. Most backyard
comps will cost you about the same for everything as a sanctioned cookoff, except
the actual entry fee is usually a little lower...

MIM, wow, many additional costs. The $850 goes to $1600 for us, and we dont
even do whole hog any longer.... I'm seriously thinking this next year of ONLY doing
ribs...

early mornin' smokin'
02-02-2010, 02:29 PM
lake dogs is right. We cook 4 racks of ribs, 4 butts, 2 briskets, and about 5lbs of chicken. You'll need rubs, sauces, tables, coolers, pots, pans, the list goes on. Your first one will cost the most, take notes. Also, figure you guys will need to eat something, drink something other than booze, than you gotta figure in the booze. Id reccomend getting someone to help with the costs. We have a 3 man team and pretty much split everything up pretty evenly, its only fair, if we win something we're splitting the pot.

Lake Dogs
02-02-2010, 02:30 PM
So far the guys have given you the costs for a comp. Have you also factored in the startup costs for equipment? You mentioned that you have the smokers, but how about the other stuff? EZ-up, tables, bus tubs, etc? Don't forget those.

YES! Dont forget those. You'll need at least 1 10x10 tent (dont go cheap
here, you'll regret that decision), and think through/practice taking meat
from table to cooker, cooker to table, cutting/slicing/pulling, you'll need
tubs for cleaning, knives, etc.

Oh, FIRE EXTINGUISHERS. DONT FORGET THAT.

;-)

RubMeTender
02-02-2010, 02:32 PM
YES! Dont forget those. You'll need at least 1 10x10 tent (dont go cheap
here, you'll regret that decision), and think through/practice taking meat
from table to cooker, cooker to table, cutting/slicing/pulling, you'll need
tubs for cleaning, knives, etc.

Oh, FIRE EXTINGUISHERS. DONT FORGET THAT.

;-)

But once you have ALL of that, it's smooth sailing........until you have to buy new gear in a few seasons.............

Lake Dogs
02-02-2010, 02:32 PM
I completely understand the logic behind starting with a non-sanctioned back yard
comp. However, I learned more from my first sanctioned comp than I ever learned
in the back yard one... Maybe that's just my experience. However, looking back,
it'll take a few comps before you overcome some of your own misperceptions. Perhaps
if you start off with sanctioned you'll overcome it more quickly than I did.

Best of luck, and frankly, WELCOME.

Ford
02-02-2010, 03:36 PM
I did 9 contests last year and it cost me about $1500. Drove better than 3300 miles at 55.5 cents per mile included in the calculation. Nice to get some quality calls.

I cook 2 butts (4 this year), 2 brisket, 3 slabs and 10 thighs. Usually buy a pack of 15 or so thighs and if I trim at home the culls get boiled up for the dogs.

Southern Home Boy
02-02-2010, 04:02 PM
This is NOT an inexpensive hobby. That being said, you can do a LOT with just a little money.

The first comp I did, I did with one other person. We split the entry fee and the cost of the meat. We did one brisket, one butt, three slabs of ribs and maybe 12 chicken thighs.

Our set up was my Chargriller offset and a Weber Kettle. We had a couple of folding tables (one of which was a folding card table) and a stake-down canopy with poles for shade (luckily the comp was held on a grassy field, otherwise we'd have been screwed). We had a couple of coolers we used for camping, knives, utensils, bowls, cutting boards, etc. from our kitchens, a few rubbermaid tubs that we used as our 3part sink, two folding chairs and brother, that was IT.

We looked so trailer park the only thing missing was an old, rusted out camaro on blocks. But we spent a total of about $300 AND out of 83 teams we took 6th in Brisket and 2nd in Ribs (Florida Smoke and Bones beat us in Ribs, so we felt ok with that). Based off our scores in the other categories we participated in, had we done all of them, I'm fairly certain we'd have placed in the top ten overall.

All I'm saying - and with no disrespect to the folks who put literally thousands of dollars into their rigs and meats per competition - you don't have to have all that stuff to have a great time and do really well.

Southern Home Boy
02-02-2010, 04:05 PM
I did 9 contests last year and it cost me about $1500. Drove better than 3300 miles at 55.5 cents per mile included in the calculation. Nice to get some quality calls.

I cook 2 butts (4 this year), 2 brisket, 3 slabs and 10 thighs. Usually buy a pack of 15 or so thighs and if I trim at home the culls get boiled up for the dogs.

$1500.00 per comp or $1500 TOTAL?? If it was total, then I need to learn a LOT from you my friend.

Smoky River BBQ
02-02-2010, 04:58 PM
Wow, I had a feeling it could run up there in cost...but I reckon it ain't much different than me spending 4 to 5 hundred on a weekend fishing jaunt.:grin: Can I assume most of you have sponsors or perhaps y'all split the cost as a team?

No sponser here, but if you know of any that are willing, I accept all offers!! :-D

monty3777
02-02-2010, 04:59 PM
I think he offset his costs by winning a time or two

CivilWarBBQ
02-02-2010, 06:58 PM
Since you're in Florida, O-Town, you are going to want to add the cost of a motel room for at least one night if you travel to a contest away from home and don't have an RV. It's possible to steal some sleep under an EZ-up, but if you don't have a place to shower at a contest here in Dixie you're going to be miserable. (as will anyone downwind of you too!)

Smokin Diablo
02-02-2010, 07:01 PM
We spend $700.00 to $800.00 and don't buy Wagu Briskets, I couldn't afford to compete if I used that stuff. Entry fee, travel, food, setting up camp, and a $30.00 bottle of Jack it adds up quick

TN_BBQ
02-02-2010, 07:04 PM
See if you can offset some of your expenses by selling your leftovers to co-workers and neighbors.

If you get a couple friends, it makes for a nice and not too expensive hobby.

My guess is $500 give or take a hundred bucks.

If you sleep in the truck, you'll save a few bucks. Sell some Q to friends AND get a call...you might come close to breaking even.

The Giggler
02-02-2010, 07:19 PM
the culls get boiled up for the dogs.

Boiled?!?! My hounds prefer the culls to be deboned and smoked up without any seasoning. They favor pecan wood, but will accept cherry or sugar maple in a pinch. Surely your dogs are deserving, give it a try.

Addressing the original question, I cook 16-20 thighs depending on size. 3-4 racks. 2 pork butts, and 2 briskets.

Gerrit_Boys
02-02-2010, 08:12 PM
Don't forget that you can borrow stuff. We pulled into our first contest with a borrowed RV with a borrowed trailer loaded with a borrowed ez-up, coolers, etc. I've gotten more self sufficient but until you get into it for the long haul then alot of stuff is barely worth owning.

Rub
02-02-2010, 08:25 PM
Hey O-town, have you looked into the FBA? We'd love to have you join us if you haven't already. There is a backyard event coming up Feb. 19-20 in Haines City, which is less than an hour from you. It's in conjunction with an FBA sanctioned contest.

You've been given some good info here. I try to go on the inexpensive side myself, and usually spend $500 - $700 for ones in FL depending on entry fee.

O-Town
02-02-2010, 09:31 PM
I joined the FBA today as a matter of fact. Thank you all for the input. I have much to consider now. When I think about it, I have a friend with that owns an RV I can borrow, I already own an EZ up. Tables I have and several plastic tubs. Most every thing you all have mentioned I have or can borrow(except the cold hard cash...lol). Looks like I am gonna give it a try! Pig on the Pond is in March in Clermont Fl. I look forward to being there to compete!....Thanks for all your advice folks......:grin:

watertowerbbq
02-02-2010, 09:55 PM
Maybe I'm not spending enough when I go to a comp. :-D

You don't have to spend a fortune to go to a comp. You can spend as little or as much as you like, with the exception of travel costs. Depending on your location, you might be fortunate to have a comp close enough to home so gas is insignificant or you may have to travel multiple hours which can really add up.

The first comp I went to I took:
2 WSM's
2 folding tables
1 pop up canopy
1 folding chair
2 coolers
2 large rubbermaid containers

Now I didn't cook the full comp, but I had the capacity to do so if my skill set would have allowed.

At the last comp I did I took:
2 WSM's
3 folding tables
2 pop up canopies
2 lawn chairs
4 coolers
2 tool boxes
6 small rubbermaid containers

As far as meat goes, I cook 2 butts (~$25), 1 brisket (~$25), 2 racks of ribs (~$25) and 10 chicken thighs (~$5). All of these meats are purchased either from the local grocery store or Sam's Club. 2 bags of Kingsford charcoal (~$15). Garnish (~$12). Ice (~$20). Sauces and rubs ($20). So that's about $147. Throw in a entry of $150 and it's a cool $300.

I make sandwiches for lunch on Friday and we don't go crazy for dinner on Friday night, usually something like hamburgers or hot dogs, maybe brats. Saturday morning breakfast is usually breakfast bars or pop-tarts or whatever (sometimes you can get someone to go for donuts or McDonalds).

In all, I'd say, for me, $350 is a reasonable cost for a given comp. I don't have teamates to split the cost with so I've got to keep costs down.

You can cook more meat and spend as much or as little as you want. Some teams have large operations with RV's and trailers. For me, I don't have the $$$ to part with at this time so everything I bring to the comp has to fit in my 2001 Tundra Access Cab (no topper and not the full backseat, just a partial back seat). I can tell you that I do take some pride in being able to hang with teams with more equipment. I haven't won a comp yet, but I have gotten a call and it feels great.

My advice would be to just go with what you have and spend what you can and enjoy it. You can always add equipment as you go. This year I'm adding a Coleman Hot Water on Demand System and I want to get a bigger smoker and I will when the time is right.

Sorry for the long post.

BigJimsBBQ
02-03-2010, 06:36 AM
Hello O-Town,

1st - FBA has Great Rules and Great Teams, have fun.

2nd - Start out in Pro not Backyard as cost are not that different, but rewards (Knowledge and $ Prize) are much different.

3rd - It takes a cooler, a table, a chair, a knife, spices and sauce, aluminum foil, meat, charcoal/wood and a smoker to hand in Great Q. The rest is for show or comfort.

4th - Start out simple and add when you can afford.

Best of Luck and have FUN.

Ford
02-03-2010, 06:56 AM
$1500.00 per comp or $1500 TOTAL?? If it was total, then I need to learn a LOT from you my friend.
My season cost me about 1500 total. It helps to get 1st place in chicken 4 times and an RGC helps. Being consistent in top 10 is the real key. And it's accurate as I deduct contests against vending revenue as a marketing expense.
http://home.netcom.com/~alisonf/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/.pond/trailervending.jpg.w560h420.jpg

Scottie
02-03-2010, 08:41 AM
Maybe I'm not spending enough when I go to a comp. :-D

You don't have to spend a fortune to go to a comp. You can spend as little or as much as you like, with the exception of travel costs. Depending on your location, you might be fortunate to have a comp close enough to home so gas is insignificant or you may have to travel multiple hours which can really add up.

The first comp I went to I took:
2 WSM's
2 folding tables
1 pop up canopy
1 folding chair
2 coolers
2 large rubbermaid containers

Now I didn't cook the full comp, but I had the capacity to do so if my skill set would have allowed.

At the last comp I did I took:
2 WSM's
3 folding tables
2 pop up canopies
2 lawn chairs
4 coolers
2 tool boxes
6 small rubbermaid containers

As far as meat goes, I cook 2 butts (~$25), 1 brisket (~$25), 2 racks of ribs (~$25) and 10 chicken thighs (~$5). All of these meats are purchased either from the local grocery store or Sam's Club. 2 bags of Kingsford charcoal (~$15). Garnish (~$12). Ice (~$20). Sauces and rubs ($20). So that's about $147. Throw in a entry of $150 and it's a cool $300.

I make sandwiches for lunch on Friday and we don't go crazy for dinner on Friday night, usually something like hamburgers or hot dogs, maybe brats. Saturday morning breakfast is usually breakfast bars or pop-tarts or whatever (sometimes you can get someone to go for donuts or McDonalds).

In all, I'd say, for me, $350 is a reasonable cost for a given comp. I don't have teamates to split the cost with so I've got to keep costs down.

You can cook more meat and spend as much or as little as you want. Some teams have large operations with RV's and trailers. For me, I don't have the $$$ to part with at this time so everything I bring to the comp has to fit in my 2001 Tundra Access Cab (no topper and not the full backseat, just a partial back seat). I can tell you that I do take some pride in being able to hang with teams with more equipment. I haven't won a comp yet, but I have gotten a call and it feels great.

My advice would be to just go with what you have and spend what you can and enjoy it. You can always add equipment as you go. This year I'm adding a Coleman Hot Water on Demand System and I want to get a bigger smoker and I will when the time is right.

Sorry for the long post.




Right on Matt. I competely agree with this. If I had to spend $700 per comp, I wouldn't do it. I have a hard time spending that amount on a 12 hour drive contest. Now don't get me wrong, with the money I save from having great sponsors with awesome products that I use, I 'may' splurge a little on myself and my girls. So you 'might' see me sipping some higher end cocktails and beers. But that is all a learned trait that I have picked up on the circuit... ;)

I cook 10-12 pieces of chicken; 3 racks of ribs, (could probably get by with 2, but they come in a 3 pack), 2 butts and if no one steals them, I cook 2 briskets... I buy the first 3 at local stores and I get the briskets right from a IBP plant, as they age them for me and still get them at cost. So I probably get them about 1/3 less than most.

It can be done. Don't over due it. I still have crap that I thought I would need and to this day, I never use it. But I was an Eagle Scout and be prepared is a good way to live life.

Enjoy and don't be afraid to ask questions. If teams don't want to give it up, they won't. I also wouldn't point blank ask teams for their recipe either.

Just remember one thing. Have fun!

TN_BBQ
02-03-2010, 08:46 AM
The most expensive part of a weekend BBQ competition is the Hall Pass from the wife. :-P

Those seem to cost me an arm and a leg (or pound of flesh). :-P

Lake Dogs
02-03-2010, 09:12 AM
> Enjoy and don't be afraid to ask questions. If teams don't want to give it up,
> they won't. I also wouldn't point blank ask teams for their recipe either.

Interestingly enough, one of the major differences that I've noticed between the
average BBQ competitor vs. the average Chili competitor is this very thing. The
BBQ guys will generally give you the shirt off of their back if you ask and tell you
most every thing they use (ingredients) in a recipe... Averages being averages...

Not the same in chili. If they do tell you, 99% of it is a lie, averages & all.

Then again, this may be a southern thing (BBQ sharing and Chili not). Who knows.
Scottie from Chicago seems to have had a different experience.

Welcome to BBQ, generally one of the more friendly crowds.

RobKC
02-03-2010, 09:25 AM
The most expensive part of a weekend BBQ competition is the Hall Pass from the wife. :-P

Those seem to cost me an arm and a leg (or pound of flesh). :-P

+1000!

This year should be better in that department since my wife wants to help out.

crd26a
02-03-2010, 09:39 AM
+1000!

This year should be better in that department since my wife wants to help out.

Until she runs to the grocery store and buys half of it, like at Platte Woods. Hey, at least we had some Watermelon and Picante Sauce..........

CivilWarBBQ
02-03-2010, 08:20 PM
> Interestingly enough, one of the major differences that I've noticed between the average BBQ competitor vs. the average Chili competitor is this very thing.

I view chili cook-offs kind of like minor league baseball: fun to fool around with from time to time, but nowhere near as serious as Pro BBQ. Your typical CASI cook shows up Saturday morning, well rested and spends 15 minutes unpacking his Coleman stove, folding table and small cooler. Prep time might take an hour if he's slow, and then another couple hours of occasionally stirring the pot and making a spice dump. Turn in is as simple as filling a cup. The whole thing is over with plenty of time to pack up, drive home and still mow the yard before supper.

The time, money, weather, and work involved to compete in BBQ requires a much, much greater commitment than doing chili comps. Perhaps it's that "we're all out here freezing/roasting our butts off together" experience that makes us pull together compared to the chili cooks who have never had a bonding moment trying to keep a neighbor's Easy-Up from taking flight during a 3 AM thunderstorm. :)

Lake Dogs
02-04-2010, 06:56 AM
I view chili cook-offs kind of like minor league baseball: fun to fool around with from time to time, but nowhere near as serious as Pro BBQ. Your typical CASI cook shows up Saturday morning, well rested and spends 15 minutes unpacking his Coleman stove, folding table and small cooler. Prep time might take an hour if he's slow, and then another couple hours of occasionally stirring the pot and making a spice dump. Turn in is as simple as filling a cup. The whole thing is over with plenty of time to pack up, drive home and still mow the yard before supper.

The time, money, weather, and work involved to compete in BBQ requires a much, much greater commitment than doing chili comps. Perhaps it's that "we're all out here freezing/roasting our butts off together" experience that makes us pull together compared to the chili cooks who have never had a bonding moment trying to keep a neighbor's Easy-Up from taking flight during a 3 AM thunderstorm. :)

You're 100% right about the show up, unpack, cook, hit the road. Mind
you, some are friendly, but nothing like BBQ folks! I haven't seen one
occurrence yet where a BBQ competitor refused/didn't help his neighbor,
many times unsolicited (ala. the guy didnt ask for help, but his neighbor
noticed he was suffering, so over came the help). It's a great bunch
of folks!!!

As for recipes, I haven't seen one guy/gal yet who wouldn't tell you
whether they like brown sugar in their rub/sauce, whatever, why, and
get pretty close to their exact recipe, probably holding out on a slight
detail or two, if nothing else than to have you figure it out as they
did... Reference bbq-brethren.com for evidence. Wonderful group
of folks.

TN_BBQ
02-04-2010, 08:18 AM
As for recipes, I haven't seen one guy/gal yet who wouldn't tell you
whether they like brown sugar in their rub/sauce, whatever, why, and
get pretty close to their exact recipe, probably holding out on a slight
detail or two, if nothing else than to have you figure it out as they
did... Reference bbq-brethren.com for evidence. Wonderful group
of folks.

I agree.

Good recipes are nice to have, but it's all about the execution.

I have a friend that is tight lipped aobut some of her recipes (she makes a killer salad). We were planning a big meal with friends and she asked for our recipe (gasp). "We ain't got no recipe." We invited her to come hang out and take notes as we cooked if she wanted a written recipe. She took tedious notes and has yet to be able to duplicate our results. :mrgreen:

2nd time we all cooked together, I said I was going to try to make that salad of hers....you could tell she was a little bent out of shape when I nailed it. :-D Some might even say it was a little better.

Divemaster
02-04-2010, 08:56 AM
Wow, I had a feeling it could run up there in cost...but I reckon it ain't much different than me spending 4 to 5 hundred on a weekend fishing jaunt.:grin: Can I assume most of you have sponsors or perhaps y'all split the cost as a team?

I take care of the comp costs (entry fee, meat spices, ect) and my team takes care of all the meals, drinks (soda, water, beer, and Jack D.)

I completely understand the logic behind starting with a non-sanctioned back yard comp. However, I learned more from my first sanctioned comp than I ever learned in the back yard one...
Plus, I've never meet a nicer more helpful group of people!

Since you're in Florida, O-Town, you are going to want to add the cost of a motel room for at least one night if you travel to a contest away from home and don't have an RV. It's possible to steal some sleep under an EZ-up, but if you don't have a place to shower at a contest here in Dixie you're going to be miserable. (as will anyone downwind of you too!)
We actually don't do the hotel thing. Now the exception is if its a distance from home we do hit the hotel so we aren't driving dead.

As far as meat goes, I cook 2 butts (~$25), 1 brisket (~$25), 2 racks of ribs (~$25) and 10 chicken thighs (~$5). All of these meats are purchased either from the local grocery store or Sam's Club. 2 bags of Kingsford charcoal (~$15). Garnish (~$12). Ice (~$20). Sauces and rubs ($20). So that's about $147. Throw in a entry of $150 and it's a cool $300.

In all, I'd say, for me, $350 is a reasonable cost for a given comp. I don't have teamates to split the cost with so I've got to keep costs down.

I would love to find more comps with an entrance fee of only $150. Most of them around here run $200 at the low end and as much as $500 on the high end... As for your food costs, I would have to say that we are about the same except we do two briskets and four slabs of ribs. The differance I think is purchase most of my meat at Rest. Depot (you can get a card by using your KCBS membership) and that lowers our cost.