View Full Version : What came first? School or comp

01-20-2011, 08:30 AM
Where did you start and why? I want to get into competition but I am wondering if it would be a good idea to attend one of the classes that are offered first.

01-20-2011, 08:33 AM
I'd suggest you try a few before going to class. YOu will get a lot more from the classs if you know how a cotnest goes and what you do and if you already develop a process. It gives you a frame of reference to compare to the class.

01-20-2011, 08:34 AM
We started doing it our way for the first year and then took Rod and Johnny's class and I think that was the best way we could have done it.

While I use a lot of what I learned from the class, I'm also using some of the techniques that I developed...

We needed to do it the hard way to see what we were doing wrong... Does it need to be a full season? Heck no, but a few times doing it your way before the class gives you a different perspective during the class...

01-20-2011, 08:59 AM
+1. Competed last year in 10 comps (KCBS, SLBS & non-sanctioned) and going to Scotties class in a couple of weeks in preparation for this season. Looking forward to it.

Buster Dog BBQ
01-20-2011, 09:30 AM
I agree with Ford. Get a couple contest down first. Get your timing, organization, etc set and get a feel for trimming meat. Once you get a good feel for contests then take a class. Remember, some things will vary. We took Rod and Johnny's class our 3rd year and found out we had been doing about 80% of what they did already. It was the finer points and details where we missed out and a few things where we overlooked the obvious and made things harder then they were. Will your food taste as good as your instructors? Maybe. Most of the guys teaching are getting high end aged briskets and a higher quality rib that some of us either can't afford or don't have a source for. But that doesn't mean you still can't get something from Sam's and win with it. I also found that using part of their recipe and a tweak of my own I had greater success in a category.

Alexa RnQ
01-20-2011, 10:00 AM
+1 here too. In fact, we had to re-take our first class from QN4U's Brent and Kim Walton FOUR times, because the first time we were still too green to know how much of it was going over our heads, and we kept going because every time we went we picked up something new.

The more you know, the more you understand what's being presented to you.

01-20-2011, 10:18 AM
Agree with the above. I think you have to experience a few comps to really get a feel for what you are learning. Plus, it gives you a better understanding of why some of it is taught the way it is and help you pick up on the little things that make the difference.

Homebrewed Q
01-20-2011, 10:24 AM
That's the route I'm taking. Did 1 comp last year, shooting for 4-6 this year, then we'll look into a class.

01-20-2011, 10:37 AM
I'd say that you need to strike when the iron is hot. If there is a class that you would like to take and it happens to come before the comp season then I'd take it. Why miss an opportunity?

01-20-2011, 10:37 AM
What do you want to get out of it is probably the biggest question for you. If it's to go out and have fun, then don't worry about classes. If you want to go out and try to recoup monies spent, then the class route is the way to go.

Personally, my recommendation is to cook in your backyard until you can do it blindfolded. When you can do that, take a class. the money spent at a class covers basically 2 contest entry fees (at least for my class/fundraiser) and I guarantee that you will have more knowledge coming out of a comp cooking class than what you would gain by cooking in 2 contests. There is no guarantee that cooking 2 contests would not confuse you more anyway... Let's not forget that cooking a contest, part of the fear is what to expect. You gain that as well from a cooking class. You get timelines and flavor profiles. What wins at contests by some of the top comp BBQ teams out there. If by chance you hit a nice call at a contest, you can cover that cost of the class in one contest.

another route to go is by offering to wash dishes or be a runner for a team at a contest. Hook up with the guys from the FBA and they could probably set you up as well.

So in a nutshell, you have to figure out where you want to go. A comp cooking class probably takes 2-3 years off of a learning curve for a new cook.

good luck.


JD McGee
01-20-2011, 10:40 AM
School...swamprb`s backyard school of bbq...followed by Paul Kirk...and soon to attend...Johnny Trigg. NEVER stop learning!

01-20-2011, 10:49 AM
School...swamprb`s backyard school of bbq...followed by Paul Kirk...and soon to attend...Johnny Trigg. NEVER stop learning!

I'm with you there!!! Some folks tend to bag on classes (then you find out through the grapevine that they sucked until they took one themselves!!!) but I believe that learning from a master, no matter what your ability, is the key to success in any venture whether it's a hobby or a profession.

I know that in my professions we are expected to continue our education. It keeps me sharp and in conversation with others. That in turn keeps me honest about my strengths and weaknesses. I have taken several classes and I'll take as many more as I can afford. Unfortunatly I won't be able to take any this year as all my money is going into a kid friendly rig, but you can bet I'll have my eye open for next year.

Rich Parker
01-20-2011, 11:41 AM
CSC class came first. Like Monty said the opportunity was there and I didn't want to pass it up.

01-20-2011, 01:00 PM
We did about 10 backyard competitions and a few pro competitions and then took Swamp Boy's cooking class and it made a great difference.

I think it definitely helps to get some comps under your belt so that you know your strengths, weaknesses and areas to really focus on during the class.

Big George's BBQ
01-20-2011, 01:08 PM
Did a couple Comps Found out that I liked it Took I Smell Smokes Class Now thinking about another class

Southern Home Boy
01-20-2011, 01:08 PM
We just dove in and started competing. Had no clue what we were doing other than what we'd been doing in the backyard for years all crammed into one weekend with a stricter time frame.

I'm thinking a class might have helped us be a little better prepared for what we were doing.

'Course, simply going to a few comps might have done that too.

Until we actually participated in our first competition, we had no idea how big the sport actually was.

01-20-2011, 01:23 PM
+1 in the comp first group. Of course, I've always been one to mess around with new toys before I read the manual. We've got 6 comps under our belts and really started to get into a groove by our last 2 comps. Now that's a pretty expensive way to learn since we didnt get any calls and Scottie has a great 3rd option which we never tried and that is to work with another team first. I think that is a great way to start off and get the feel for things without having to fork over a bunch of entry fees and such.

We're pretty excited to be taking Scottie's class in a few weeks and I think having competed a few times will make learning at this class a lot easier

01-20-2011, 01:37 PM
Are you a CBJ? That could be a start, just to see what the judges are learning. Most Judges are newbies anyway, they are the ones at the competitions. Havn't done a class for Q'in yet, going to look into that soon though.

01-20-2011, 02:10 PM
Comp first is what I wanted to hear. BUT something in me says that entering a contest that you are not prepared for is like taking a knife to a gun fight. I think I understand everyone who said that they got more out of a class after competing. With some experience under your belt you know what questions to ask. Thanks to all who have commented. I think I will look for a team to join/help/gopher/whatever ASAP.

01-20-2011, 02:28 PM
While i think a class may help some. I think each person is different. In this world we live in, if you are as compulsive and as crazy as me there is so much information out there between DVD's, books and this wonderfull thing called Youtube and Google... I agree with what most are saying. Go out, have some fun, do not put high expectations on yourself and see if you like it.. If you do and a class is an affordable thing for you,:thumb: do it...

01-20-2011, 02:43 PM
Comp first is what I wanted to hear. BUT something in me says that entering a contest that you are not prepared for is like taking a knife to a gun fight. I think I understand everyone who said that they got more out of a class after competing. With some experience under your belt you know what questions to ask. Thanks to all who have commented. I think I will look for a team to join/help/gopher/whatever ASAP.
Try a backyard event and you will get a feel for what is happening.

01-20-2011, 03:56 PM
I started by taking the judging class, and then went out and did a backyard and then a real contest I would say get your feet wet before you go to a class, you will get more out of it after you have an idea of what is going on.:thumb: good luck

01-20-2011, 03:56 PM
OK just joined the FBA. Registered for the Boots and BBQ comp in Starke FL. Should have some fun provided no speeding tickets on the way!!:eusa_clap

01-20-2011, 04:45 PM
Just started competing in 2003, first contest 1st in Ribs, 5th in Butt, 16th in brisket...There were 14 team entered.

2nd contest GC. Never took a class, self taught, never wanted to be beholding to anyone else, accutal or percieved as that may be, for whatever success I have had, as limited as that has been...................Just to proud and arrogant to do otherwise I guess.

01-20-2011, 05:07 PM
ive yet to take a class. its probably not a bad idea considering the first comp i did was a joke. we went and had a basic idea of what to do but the guy next to us was giving us info on how to present the food and was lying to us the entire time. he told us NOT to sauce anything and he also told us that garnish in our boxes would DQ us. we took his advice and he loved the fact that he sabotaged our turn ins. well we still beat him with a 4th in chicken and 8th in brisket. but you could take a lot of the guess work out of it by hitting a class first

Lake Dogs
01-20-2011, 05:07 PM
Chiming in, do a few comps first before taking the class because if you start with the class you wont really appreciate all the little tid-bits and you wont know where to

Also, I highly suggest judging a few competitions, sanctioned competitions, before
competing or EARLY on. It's very tough to understand the mark to hit (ala.
understand the level of competition) if you've never seen what comes across the

Hogtie N' Ride
01-21-2011, 11:43 AM
We did the judging class first. That is where you learn the rules of the game. You need to have a strong understanding of the rules and what the judges look for.

Go to a few comps and talk to the cooks. Friday night is usually better. Many are willing to share the basics. Also a good way to make some new freinds.

At your first comp, ask to be pared with a mentor team.

We have not taken a class yet, but learned alot from freinds we made along the way and practice, practice, practice. No GC, but a few calls.