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rbinms33 09-14-2005 03:26 PM

First Competition as a CBJ
Well, I finally judged my first KCBS competition this past weekend. It was held at the Benton County Fair in Ashland, MS. There were a total of 18 teams competing. I got down there at 9:30 and we had our judges meeting where we learned we had 24 judges for 18 teams. We still split into 6 judge teams and one of the judges on each team pulled double duty as a judge and a table captain. We also listened to the CD explaining the rules and such and took the oath. First category was sauce at 11:30 and I needed to be back at 11:15.

I walked around a bit watching the teams and man were they busy. I didn't talk to any of them because the reps said that talking with a team before judging was kinda frowned upon. At 11:15 I walked back in the judging area and being a newbie to the whole judging thing, I was spotted by the master judges immediately. Something about the new KCBS judging shirts that are blue with white writing. Anyway, I sat at table number 1 where this nice lady named Bonnie was judging and doing the table captain thing as well. I was also sitting next to this master judge named James who coincidentally organizes the Southaven Springfest MIM competition. Between the two of them, they were explaining how things were going to work and made me feel really comfortable being there.

Ok, 11:30 and we get 5 containers of sauce. We judged it on appearance, taste and ranking since there's no tenderness to sauce. Two of them were really smoky, two had a good vinegar twang to them and one was sweet. I really liked one of the vinegar ones cause it had a bit of spice to it. A lot of the people said it was too spicy. Hmmm....something to remember when I start competing. The remaining containers of sauce were put up front so you could go taste other teams stuff besides the 5 your judged.

At 12:00, the chicken came in. We only saw 3 entries on this one and two boxes were thighs and one was sliced breast. One of the thigh entries didn't really have any color to it and the skin wasn't cooked enough. One had a good color to it but again, the skin wasn't cooked enough. The sliced breast had a chemical taste to lighter fluid. Nobody liked the lighter fluid taste and judges it accordingly on taste. As with the sauce, the remaining containers were put up front for other judges and the volunteers to taste.

At 12:30, the ribs came in. 4 good entries and one that I wasn't quite sure about. There was one BB entry and the other 4 were spares. The BB entry was sauced and very good. Pulled away from the bone just right. Two of the spares didn't really pull that well although appearance and taste was pretty good. The other spare wasn't sauced but had a nice dry rub on it. Not too much but just enough to let you know it was there. I had gigged it a little on appearance cause it looked dry sitting in the box but it pulled away from the bone better than the first one. The other one that I wasn't quite sure about.....well, this is why.....I know parboiling ribs is against the rules but if I didn't know any better I would have thought they were. The appearance looked like somebody cut them up with a chainsaw and there was no color to them. A lot of grease in the box too. When I went to grab one by the bone, the meat fell off so I scooped up some meat and put it on the plate. It didn't have any taste to it either. Another indicator of being boiled but that was my opinion (along with several of the other judges). I know these guys stayed up all night and spent a lot of money to compete but I truly hope those ribs were an accident and not that team's norm.

At 1:00, the pork came in. Good looking entries. The best ones were the ones that were in chunks, not pulled apart in small strings. There was one like that and it was pretty good but it had already gotten cold and rubbery. The chunks with a bit of bark on the end got my vote. Everything you needed to taste was there. I saw a hint of mustard on one of the sliced pieces but it was a good piece of pork.

At 1:30, the brisket came in. This is what I was waiting for. Out of the 5 entries only one appeared to be dry. I later confirmed that when I tasted it. The rest of them looked really moist and while two of them pulled away easy, the other two were kinda tough. Those four had good taste though but only two of them had the tenderness I was looking for.

We also judged sides and dessert so I left there with a full belly. I found out there's no way to figure out what team you actually judged even after the event was over. I didn't stay for the awards but found out from the BBQ Forum that Jiggy Piggy took GC and River City Rub took reserve. All in all it was a really good time. I only talked to two of the teams down there cause like I said, everyone was busy putting stuff together before the judging and cleaning up and tearing down after the judging.

I hope for those of you considering becoming a judge, that this little write up of my experience helps you out.

BrooklynQ 09-14-2005 03:33 PM

RE: First Competition as a CBJ
Thanks for the report.

chad 09-14-2005 03:36 PM

RE: First Competition as a CBJ
Congrats! :D The first one is definately a learning experience.

I always get to the events around 8a.m. and wander around and visit - talkign to the teams is NOT forbidden - some a-holes think you can rig a contest like that but most understand.

In FBA they keep us away from the competitors after about 9 or 9:30 when we usually have the judge's meeting!

It is amazing to do post-mortems after each catagory - as you noted "spice" is a topic with a lot of judges.

My recommendation is judge as often as you can - get to know the teams. Visit early and, of course, after the turnins - that judge's badge and the fact that you cook que will open a lot of doors and beer bottles! :D

The_Kapn 09-14-2005 03:43 PM


That is a first class report!

Thank you a million.


rbinms33 09-14-2005 03:47 PM

RE: First Competition as a CBJ
What I found interesting is that sometimes everybody agreed and thought that one particular entry did best. But even if everybody didn't agree, their number one pick was usually my number two pick and vice versa.

Jeff_in_KC 09-14-2005 04:08 PM

RE: First Competition as a CBJ
Great report, Richie! Definitely gives some insight. I'm hoping to take a class and get certified by the time next season's competitions begin. I'm also assuming that it's OK to volunteer to judge any contest you aren't cooking in?

Ron_L 09-14-2005 04:12 PM

RE: First Competition as a CBJ
Great report, Richie! I need to find a judging class near me.

One question... For the pork entries, did folks turn in just the pork, or did they sauce/season it?

rbinms33 09-14-2005 04:14 PM

RE: First Competition as a CBJ
I don't see why not. I was telling them that they would probably be judging me next year!

Chick'n Pig BBQ 09-17-2005 09:09 PM

Great report, I am judging my first KCBS competition this next weekend in Herman MO. I am really looking forward to judging as a CBJ. I wanted to get there early so I could walk around and see everyone.

Bellybro 09-18-2005 10:02 AM

Nice report.


Arlin_MacRae 09-18-2005 10:29 AM

Thanks, Richie. That was good for competitors, judges, and the rest of us!

MrSmoker 09-18-2005 10:49 AM

Excellent report Richie, i have only judged once since getting certified but i'm looking forward to doing again.Not much opportunity here in AZ.Have to go to CA ,NM or NV.

slat 09-18-2005 11:43 AM

I judged my first event on 8-27. It was a great experience. Like you I met a lot of people that had been to a few events, and were very helpful.
I judged an event yesterday in Carbondale, IL. It was very small compared to the first one. The first one I went to was 41 teams yesterday there were only 13, but two of them only entered two categories.
If you don't have a team to compete with then judging is a good place to be.

rbinms33 09-18-2005 12:50 PM


Originally Posted by Ron_L
Great report, Richie! I need to find a judging class near me.

One question... For the pork entries, did folks turn in just the pork, or did they sauce/season it?

Ron.....out of the 5 I saw, there were a couple that had sauce and/or a sprinkling of rub on it. The rest were just pulled. There was one that had a hint of mustard on it but it looked like they had used the mustard as a prep like some do to help hold the rub on. The one that was pretty obvious pulled into smaller strands and you could obviously tell they hit it at the last minute with a brushing of sauce and sprinkled a little rub on it. Not that there's anything wrong with that, cause I sometimes do that here at the house to give it that little extra kick. And that may be the way they do their pork but after we got through turning in our cards, the other judges reactions were that they were trying to cover something up. Not necessarily because of the sauce, but because of the sprinkling of rub. Another little tidbit I was gonna put in my memory for competing later on.

A couple of the other entries that turned in pulled and slices, the slices were either dipped or brushed with the sauce but the pulled pieces weren't. I didn't know if that was normal or not because the sauce changed the taste. So if you taste one pulled piece with no sauce and then taste a sliced piece with sauce, which one are you supposed to judge it on? The best tasting one?....LOL. I never asked the other judges about that, we were too busy talking about the sauced/rubbed one. I personally judged it on the pulled piece, not that it was any better than the sliced piece but I figure if he/she put both pieces in there, then it was my choice. Just seemed that they would sauce both or neither.

slat 09-18-2005 01:03 PM

When I have pork that is presented to me in both slices or chunks and pulled and one is sauced and the other isn't I sample both and score accordingly as if it was just one item.

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