PDA

View Full Version : Competition Site Set-up Advice


Greg60525
06-26-2010, 08:39 PM
I'm looking for ways to improve my set-up. I want to see how others are coping with a similar set-up. I currently set-up as follows on a 20' x 20' site (see attached pictures of a typical set-up )

- single 10' x 10' Quick Shade pop-up canopy with walls (sometimes I put the walls all the way up and other times only half way)
-trailered offset smoker (~ footprint is 10' x 6')
- two 6' tables (I set-up them up typically, in an L-shape with one table facing my smoker so that I can transfer meat back and forth easily
-1 card table
- three 3-drawer plastic cabinets from Menards
- variety of plastic tubs with covers
- a bunch of coolers (one for holding hot meat)
- those cheapo aluminum work lights that I clamp to my tent frame and direct at my smoker and one over the work table

Some of the problems that I see is a cluttered work space. I am thinking of a second tent, one for the kitchen and one for hanging out.

I have my rubs, cooking utensils, extension cords, tools, matches, thermometers, etc. in the plastic drawer units, which sit on the other table. The tubs hold: larger extension cords, work lights, blankets, paper towels, foil, knives, cutting boards, etc..

I've seen some teams that have their paper towels, plastic wrap, foil, etc. on some type of hanging roll. I've been just juggling those things around..........it's working, but I think that I can make it more efficient.

Should I be looking at differnet storage ideas, different tent sizes, layout?

One pice of advice that I can share that works for me is that I label each drawer and storage box, D1 - D9 for the drawers and B1 - B4 for the boxes. I have a checklist in Excel that has all of the supplies that I need with the storage location. It is very easy to inventory and to pack. Things that get loaded into the car are cleverly marked "CAR", while others are marked "SMOKER", like the wood, propane, coolers, etc. I only have a Ford Freestyle, so I have to pack very efficiently.........I just can't toss it in and expect everything to fit.

So, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Buster Dog BBQ
06-26-2010, 09:17 PM
My advice. Don't take the stuff you never use. Trim the meat at home. Put in one cooler. Use that cooker or another cooler to keep the warm meat depending on your meat timings. Paper towels can hang from bungee on 10 x 10. Try to multi use things if you can.

Smokesman
06-26-2010, 09:18 PM
Good idea for a post. From what I can see in the pictures I agree it does look very cluttered. Your ideas for a second tent is a good one that we employ. One 10x10 for our kitchen area and a second matching 10x10 (zip tied together) for hang out space. We hang a gutter where the canopies meet to divert rain water.

The best advice I can give is to think like a working kitchen. For competitions we inventoried every item and categorized by Prep/Storage, Cook, and Pantry as our high priority items. Secondary is Serve (if you have guests), Cleanup, Miscellaneous, Overnight, and Personal. Only the high priority items go into the kitchen area so if your in a pinch your not looking through a bunch of other crap to find the damn probe thermo which always seems to get buried. Most of the secondary items can stay safely locked up in your trailer or truck pulled out when needed and none of it gets in the way.

Hope this gives you a few ideas!

Jeff_in_KC
06-26-2010, 09:49 PM
Holy crap, you take a lot of chit with you to a contest!! And that's coming from the king of taking too much chit! LOL! Pare down or it'll wear you out!

boogiesnap
06-26-2010, 10:09 PM
i agree with smokesman. at our first my teammate wanted to put everything we had on my cooking tables. ggrrrr. i put 1/2 the crap back in the truck, and had all the space and organization i needed. at the time it was an argument, but after starting cooking, it became clear to only have what you need to cook out in front of you.
think of the small stuff and it adds up. i ain't rubbin no meat with toothpaste or cleaning no grills with a toothbrush.

boogiesnap
06-26-2010, 10:16 PM
i also did what busterdog said. 1 cooler for comp meat, first cold, then for hot. 1 cooler for our food, water and beer.

Smokesman
06-27-2010, 03:12 AM
i also did what busterdog said. 1 cooler for comp meat, first cold, then for hot. 1 cooler for our food, water and beer.

Boog - If I'm reading you correctly your using the same cooler for raw meat then using it later as a hotbox. We have a separate "hotbox" for large cuts since we typically still have raw chicken/ribs on hand. In my book proper food storage (in this context) requires that raw meats be stored separately from consumables. No way in hell I'm putting 30 to 40 lbs of raw meat in the same cooler as the beer and salsa. After all cooking is completed our raw cold storage is cleaned and iced so we can take all the leftovers home safely. So we have 2 large coolers (one for raw the other for consumables) and a medium cooler used as a hotbox (en-route it carries all the dry pantry items). BTW - garnish should never get anywhere near your raw storage.

We still have much room to improve to reach true "lean and mean". At our first comp last year we were a mess - way to much stuff spread hither and yawn. Pretty well organized now which is especially important since team captains are separated by 100 miles. At our last comp we were actually completely packed BEFORE awards...even had all the cleaning done!

Greg60525
06-27-2010, 03:15 AM
Thanks for the comments. I do have 1 cold cooler for comp meats, 1 empty cooler waiting to become the holding cooler for comp meats once cooked, a cooler for beer, pop and water and another cooler for regular food. We also bring a disposable styrofoam cooler to hold ice for drinks.

There a few things that are a neccessity that are stored in those drawers and then there are the back-up stuff that has never been used.......yet.

It gets even worse in a cold weather contest because we have the walls all up and zippered..........you are confined. There's between 3 and 4 of us in there, too. This is where that second tent would pay off.

Looking over my pictures I could probably get rid of the drawer sets and get one tall vertical pantry type unit that would sit on the floor (ground)........or maybe just stack those drawer sets on top of each other. :idea: I could then get a smaller table to replace the one where all of the stuff sat. That table seemed to be only used to hold stuff. I always have one table clear for working on the food.

I do need the blender for margarita's.......but only in the summer!

My first comp was a nightmare. I didn't have those drawer sets or even the covered boxes.............plastic laundry baskets. Everything was exposed! Embarrassing! :redface:

You keep learning!

Thanks again,

Smokesman
06-27-2010, 03:25 AM
Greg - What the hell are we doing up at 4 am? I'm up because of a cranky 2 yr old. Guessing we have some overlap here in our posts. No way you read my and typed your reply in 3 minutes...if you did then kudos!

Just writing my reply gave me some ideas on how our team can organize further. I'm going back to bed!

boogiesnap
06-27-2010, 08:09 AM
hi smokesman, my timeline has it such, that when the finished meat is ready to get rested the other raw comp meat is coming out of the cooler so it is then washed and ready. as far as putting some MOINKballs and beers and water in the same cooler for personal consumption i don't see too much issue really, as long as you're careful with packaging. there is food-safe certification among my team and sanitation and cleanliness are top priorities. as they should be.
but, might be easier the way you do it.

nthole
06-27-2010, 09:26 AM
You do take a ton of stuff!

We used to take two tents as well, but actually only take one. However, that one is a 12x12 which makes a big difference. We had two 6ft folding tables and one 8ft portable kitchen from Cabellas. All the cooking prep is done on that, one table holds the 3 washbins and one is just for putting things on, making boxes, hanging out. Everything we need goes in 4 bins, plus 3 coolers.

We started out with a ton and slowly started eliminating and finding ways to make things multi-task. I would say start paying attention to what you really need.

Ford
06-27-2010, 09:35 AM
A very good friend told me "Ford - you have way to much stuff. SIMPLIFY!" Thanks Steph :biggrin1:

I do vending and competition with that many bins. One small bin or box for presentation stuff including basting brushes. 1 for rubs & injections (if you don't use it don't bring it). 1 for can/bottled product such as broth, small juice cans, 1 for BBQ tools (tongs, spoons, etc) and a toolbox for wrenches, screw drivers, etc. And a knife roll for knives. If you can get a 3 or 4 bin rolling cart that's great.

Plus 3 bus tubs plus a drink cooler for hand wash. Many people build a portable sink and I recommend it. Put it on saw horses.

And you sure don't need a TV. Go talk to your neighbors or just enjoy the night.

thillin
06-27-2010, 09:36 AM
We started out with a ton and slowly started eliminating and finding ways to make things multi-task. I would say start paying attention to what you really need.

Us as well. I do have an enclosed trailer that helps, but the stuff that is there for emergencies or bad weather is packed into 1 container. It doesn't get moved and provides a seat in the trailer. The rest is in a 3 drawer unit on wheels. We get out what we need prior to use, and then pack it back away when done. We are always packed up before awards. Our dry cooler holds towels, large foil roll, paper towels and such. I still look at what can be left at home.

thillin
06-27-2010, 09:41 AM
plus a drink cooler for hand wash. ..

Yep. I use a 5 day drink cooler. I fill it with hot water about noon on Fridays, and what's left when I get home Sat evening is still hot.

FamilyManBBQ
06-27-2010, 10:52 AM
Great idea for thread!! Will be very interested in what is posted. Have only done a couple comps so far...still working on my list of essentials.

Jeff_in_KC
06-27-2010, 11:02 AM
LOL Ford! Steph is my reason for starting to pare down what I take as well. I've been working on it for three years now and I'm still not there. In the summer, we take more stuff to keep cool and in the early spring and late fall, it's more stuff to stay warm. It never ends!

ZILLA
06-27-2010, 11:39 AM
A 20x20 space is a small space. The smallest I've ever had was a 20x40. 40x40 is the most common around here. The diagram below is my set up no matter what the space size I have but would fit in the 20x20 spot you describe. It is based on two 10x10 Carvan canopys. I have one more chair, a zero gravity recliner that I sleep in, That is not in the diagram. That's it.

I do have storage on my pit that helps. I only have three storage bins tha are 14x14x18 that I use and a cook box on my work table. You really have to strip down you supplys. That fact is you really don't need that much stuff if your only there to compete.

http://img687.imageshack.us/img687/7660/20x20compspace.png (http://img687.imageshack.us/i/20x20compspace.png/)

The Pigman
06-27-2010, 11:45 AM
Take a step van and build a 15 ft. by 7 ft stainless steel kitchen in back of it and your worrys are over.

thillin
06-27-2010, 11:56 AM
Take a step van and build a 15 ft. by 7 ft stainless steel kitchen in back of it and your worrys are over.

That's been a thought of mine as well. But I need a lift gate on the back. I'm just worried about another vehicle to keep running.

Bbq Bubba
06-27-2010, 12:23 PM
We have a 8x16 trailer & don't have that much chit! A blender & TV?
KISS my friend.

Greg60525
06-27-2010, 12:37 PM
Greg - What the hell are we doing up at 4 am? I'm up because of a cranky 2 yr old. Guessing we have some overlap here in our posts. No way you read my and typed your reply in 3 minutes...if you did then kudos!

Just writing my reply gave me some ideas on how our team can organize further. I'm going back to bed!

I fell asleep on the couch and when I woke up I did a quick check on the forum...........it was just after 3 AM. I didn't see your post at the time.

I totally agree with you on the food safety strategy.


hi smokesman, my timeline has it such, that when the finished meat is ready to get rested the other raw comp meat is coming out of the cooler so it is then washed and ready. as far as putting some MOINKballs and beers and water in the same cooler for personal consumption i don't see too much issue really, as long as you're careful with packaging. there is food-safe certification among my team and sanitation and cleanliness are top priorities. as they should be.
but, might be easier the way you do it.

We never put our drinks, etc. in any cooler that had raw meat. We just want to be extra careful.


A very good friend told me "Ford - you have way to much stuff. SIMPLIFY!" Thanks Steph :biggrin1:

And you sure don't need a TV. Go talk to your neighbors or just enjoy the night.

Not an option.............that was the BlackHawks in the finals! :-D :-D I believe that was game one. We have never taken a TV before.


Us as well. I do have an enclosed trailer that helps, but the stuff that is there for emergencies or bad weather is packed into 1 container. It doesn't get moved and provides a seat in the trailer.

Packing the emergency stuff in one container and leaving it in the car is a good idea. There are some boxes that are fully unpacked when we set-up. Instead of leaving empty boxes to take up space I should just put them back in the car..........simple.............why didn't I think of that before! :doh:

Greg60525
06-27-2010, 12:56 PM
A 20x20 space is a small space. The smallest I've ever had was a 20x40. 40x40 is the most common around here. The diagram below is my set up no matter what the space size I have but would fit in the 20x20 spot you describe. It is based on two 10x10 Carvan canopys. I have one more chair, a zero gravity recliner that I sleep in, That is not in the diagram. That's it.

I do have storage on my pit that helps. I only have three storage bins tha are 14x14x18 that I use and a cook box on my work table. You really have to strip down you supplys. That fact is you really don't need that much stuff if your only there to compete.

http://img687.imageshack.us/img687/7660/20x20compspace.png (http://img687.imageshack.us/i/20x20compspace.png/)

Thanks for the diagram........this keeps me thinking. I have the Gator Pit BMS, so I have some storage in the trailer. There's enough room to store boxes, etc. without getting them hot from the cooking chamber. I've been thinking of adding some removable sides to the trailer to give me some deeper storage.


Take a step van and build a 15 ft. by 7 ft stainless steel kitchen in back of it and your worrys are over.

No room for that..........I got 2 young adults at home, each with their own vehicles. Good idea though!

We have a 8x16 trailer & don't have that much chit! A blender & TV?
KISS my friend.

See my other comment above..........Blackhawks in the playoffs........an understandable situation. We will probably never need a TV again, at least not for a very long time.

I will make room for the blender!

I got a lot of good advice from all of you. Now I need to rethink my strategy and layout.

Thanks again for the great ideas,

Smokesman
06-27-2010, 01:20 PM
Nice rig Roger! I'll have to get the tour in Kettering.

thillin
06-27-2010, 01:44 PM
BTW, you can use tubs that you unpack on site to be your wash bins.

Brauma
06-27-2010, 01:56 PM
Dude, what you need is a 2nd TV: a big screen LCD. A 2nd blender designated for margaritas. And bring at least 2 more half gallons of liquer. Four should do it. I would love to see you pull up at a comp with all that chit. :wink:

Our team has a one-word motto: FOCUS.

Mainly what I see when I look at your setup is clutter and distractions.

Greg60525
06-27-2010, 10:02 PM
Dude, what you need is a 2nd TV: a big screen LCD. A 2nd blender designated for margaritas. And bring at least 2 more half gallons of liquer. Four should do it. I would love to see you pull up at a comp with all that chit. :wink:

Our team has a one-word motto: FOCUS.

Mainly what I see when I look at your setup is clutter and distractions.

Nah, I don't need all of that stuff, my neighbor team has all of that stuff! They had a 42" LCD for the Hawks game and a bar!

There is definetely clutter and that's why I started this thread..........to get ideas and to see what other teams are doing. And now I have some ideas to work on........thanks to everyone here.

Focus........we too are focused, but we also have fun. If I'm not having fun I ain't doing it. I have a very strict time line that we follow and I make sure everyone knows what their roles are. Prior to key times I get everything organized, dig through boxes, whatever it takes to be ready. Actually, it's not as bad as it sounds. I pretty much know where everything is at........it's just too much! I've learned to work through this, but I just want to make it better and easier. I re-evaluate after each comp to see what went right and what went wrong, so that I can improve for the next time..........a lessons learned review. I keep a spreadsheet to log the history. Sure, if I can reduce the clutter then it would be easier to focus.........and the more fun I will have.

Thanks,

Greg60525
06-27-2010, 10:34 PM
Just so you know what I bring please see attached competition checklist........there are 2 files (one in notepad and one in Excel). I didn't show food items, only equipment. Some of the items are only used when it's cold out.

Thanks,

Chenernator
06-27-2010, 10:53 PM
Super list Greg. Thanks :clap2:

ZILLA
06-27-2010, 10:57 PM
Lots of redundant supplies in that list. Your bringing way to much stuff but you're the only one that can choose what to lose.

JD McGee
06-28-2010, 12:17 AM
Here's our set up...

2 pop up's...
1 prep table...
1 sauce table...
1 wash station...
2 coolers...
3 bullets...
1 cajun bandit...

http://i659.photobucket.com/albums/uu311/SouthPawBBQ/Pike%20Place%202010/PikePlace2010014.jpg

http://i659.photobucket.com/albums/uu311/SouthPawBBQ/Pike%20Place%202010/PikePlace2010005.jpg

http://i659.photobucket.com/albums/uu311/SouthPawBBQ/Pike%20Place%202010/PikePlace2010006.jpg

http://i659.photobucket.com/albums/uu311/SouthPawBBQ/Pike%20Place%202010/PikePlace2010007.jpg

We pull it in this...

http://i183.photobucket.com/albums/x206/johnrhana/BBQ%20Toys/TrailerPics001.jpg

slowerlowerbbq
06-28-2010, 01:47 PM
Nice clean setup, JD. Are those road cases for your WSM's? Very Nice :thumb:

From our first comp this year (and 3rd overall) to our second comp, I was able to eliminate about 30% of the crap we brought. It also took us 1/2 the time to pack! I made a checklist eerily similar to yours Greg and I'm still refining it and eliminating more stuff. The checklist is a must to make sure you dont forget the essentials and I really like how you organized by storage location (which I did as well), made packing the van a breeze last time out. Best of luck!

JD McGee
06-28-2010, 02:21 PM
Nice clean setup, JD. Are those road cases for your WSM's? Very Nice :thumb:

From our first comp this year (and 3rd overall) to our second comp, I was able to eliminate about 30% of the crap we brought. It also took us 1/2 the time to pack! I made a checklist eerily similar to yours Greg and I'm still refining it and eliminating more stuff. The checklist is a must to make sure you dont forget the essentials and I really like how you organized by storage location (which I did as well), made packing the van a breeze last time out. Best of luck!

Thanks man...we're still trying to get leaner...those case were made by swamprb over the winter...makes for easy loading and storage.

Greg60525
06-29-2010, 12:23 AM
Here's our set up...

2 pop up's...
1 prep table...
1 sauce table...
1 wash station...
2 coolers...
3 bullets...
1 cajun bandit...


JD, very nice, organized and clean.............my goal! I think that second tent will be key. I already got some ideas. I may just pitch the tent in the backyard and try out some ideas. I need to be more streamlined.......I need to fit everything into a Ford Freestyle..............cash for clunkers pryed my beloved, but well beat Ford F-150 out of my clutches.........I still miss it! My brother brought some stuff, but I need to be self sufficient just in case he can't make an event.

One other thing that I notice from many teams, including yours is the use of PVC pipe to extend the table legs. I keep forgetting that detail........it would really be a back saver! Next time! :doh:

Nice clean setup, JD. Are those road cases for your WSM's? Very Nice :thumb:

From our first comp this year (and 3rd overall) to our second comp, I was able to eliminate about 30% of the crap we brought. It also took us 1/2 the time to pack! I made a checklist eerily similar to yours Greg and I'm still refining it and eliminating more stuff. The checklist is a must to make sure you dont forget the essentials and I really like how you organized by storage location (which I did as well), made packing the van a breeze last time out. Best of luck!

Thanks!

Marking the storage locations is key to a quick inventory. I even took pictures showing how I loaded the smoker with stuff. It's amazing how much stuff is on that list. We have a lot of family that shows up at the events, so we need to bring extra stuff like plates, cups, forks, buns, extra pop and lots of lawn chairs. There's probably an extra storage box just for this stuff...........but it's worth it.

Thanks,

Spydermike72
06-29-2010, 11:05 AM
Just so you know what I bring please see attached competition checklist........there are 2 files (one in notepad and one in Excel). I didn't show food items, only equipment. Some of the items are only used when it's cold out.

Thanks,

That is a lot of stuff... I dont think we could fit all of that in Bubba's trailer and my truck :becky: