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The_Kapn 01-09-2005 12:08 AM

Southern Brethren at Sebring
Well, DF and I went and did our best, for now.

Not a happy camper here.

Just got home to Son's house in Tampa (they are gone to Orlando).
Alarm is chirping-no problem-I have the code.
Except, I have been up for all but 3 of the last 40 hours, the room light is low, I have no idea where my glasses are, and I am dog assed tired!
Their alarm is really loud and effective!
Police man was nice and we got it squared away just fine.

DF can tell you about the "scenic route" I led him and his travel trailer on to depart Sebring--too embarrissing!

Slugged a couple of beers (first 2 in 2 weeks) and need to vent.

We finished 26 of37 teams. Can't pay the bills or feed the ego with that crap!
We have a personal and professional ($$) goal of top 5's in FBA within 3 events. If we are not capable of that--wrong line of work!

We seem to have a real challenge/problem here with the FBA.

Our Chicken and Ribs were only "OK". If they had scored in the top 10, I would have said "The Judges were sippinig the hard stuff!"
We were 32nd in Chicken and 29th in Ribs. I can live with that, no problem. Not a fine offering from us.

I am here to tell you our Pork was "Money Meat" if I ever saw it, cooked it, or judged it! Easy top 5 in any field. We were scored 32nd.

Brisket was awesome. Easy top 10 in any field. We pulled 15th.

Looking at the scoring rusults, we were killed by low ball judges, plain and simple.

Our "so-so" chicken ranged from 7.5 (average) to a 10 (perfect)--gimmie a break--it was 7.5 to 8.5 at besti

Our prized Pork ranged from a 6.5 (well below average) to a 10!

The scoring range was measured in micro-points. Any abnormally low or high score could move a team many places up or down--way too damn sensitive.

The acutual usable scoring range is acutally 8.5 to 10--the vast mahority of the scores issued are there- clustered at the very top with no room to identify really great or bad product.

We saw the same sensitvity at Mulberry in our first FBA competetion.

I could go on and on, but no rhyme or reason and really wild score ranges for all teams.

We have at least 3 really awesome and talented FBA teams, They are really great cooks in all areas, including the "ancillary" events. It appears that they have defined "great" BBQ and it may take DF and I too long to figure out what is the "real standard". The standard used does not match the written guidence in the rules nor provided in Judges training.

Scoring in the FBA is "hyper inflated". DF and I saw that at Judges training and while judging the FBA state championships.
They judges are never told to appreciate the magnituude of their scores and that thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars are at stake based on an accurate accessment of the meats.
They are told that teams spend several hundred $ to compete, and "we should reward them for their effort"!

There appears to be no quality control mechanism to identify judges who are habitually very high or very low. FBA counts all scores, unllike KCBS.

The bottom lin is this--DF and I do not have the $$ to hang out with the FBA, try new things, and (hopefully) break the FBA quality code.

So, we are gonna:

Fold it up.

Or, just do KCBS (big logisical problems from Florida).

Or, ??

Had anouther precious beer--
Thanks for letting me vent!

Nighty night--


jeffsasmokin 01-09-2005 03:26 AM

Tim, from a fellow Floridian here in Stuart - I congratualte you on doing what most of us can only dream about.....Competing!!! I know it takes alot of time and money and without sponsors, can be brutal.

The OL and I will be going to the FBA event in Okeechobee late February - will ya'll be going or competing? If so, surely hope to see you there!

Chin up, guys! Regarless, you're still part of a great Brotherhood!!!


Solidkick 01-09-2005 09:08 AM

I think that event was in their original plans..............

DF and Tim,

If you can afford it, hang in there. Each event, you'll learn a little more as to what the judges are looking for. It seems you have a similiar situation with "Teams with recognition" that we have around here. Dont' get me wrong, in most cases, they've earned their reputation. But most had to be beginners at competing at some time or another.

Now, in about 3 months, it may be you giving the "words of encouragement". The Belly Brothers have done one KCBS competition, and we had decent results for first timers. If we were to place in the bottom third of all competitors in our first competition of the season, I'm sure I'll be questioning myself. That's the competitive nature in us, to be the best, and remain the best.

Hang in there brothers! Give yourself some time to get "recognized".

I'm damn proud to be your brother, and am always available to do dishes..........

kcquer 01-09-2005 09:08 AM

Tim and Dave, Hang in there Brothers, you have to remember that in a contest you're cooking for judges and you have no clue what their individual tastes are. Sooner of later you're gonna put the right stuff in front of the right judges and bring home some hardware. Keep swingin' and you'll get one over the fence.

The_Kapn 01-09-2005 09:54 AM

Good Morning All,

A little sleep does wonders.

Let me clarify my late night rant.

I do not feel we were picked on or that "our stuff" was the best.
My problem is with a judging system with no QC and no feedback to the judges on their scoring trends.

Looking at the results, even the last place teams received a scattering of 10's! That was in spite of lower scores by most judges. Even the Top 2 teams received low scores from a couple of judges but had enough 10's to carry them over.

It is not really a matter of "low ball" judges, it is a matter of "no ball" judging.

I would never expect total agreement among the judges on scores. But, they should be in the same range or ball park.
But for now, they range from almost disqualifying to perfect at almost every table on almost every box of meat.
That simply is not right--period!

The Grand and Reserve Champs were our neighbors and we spent a lot of time with them overnight. Some good info shared. They are just such consistantly greaqt cooks, and have found some magic combination of presentation/texture/taste, that it would be very hard to out-do them. I have no problem with that, they have earned it.

But, when you have a product as good as our Pork was, we should have been right among the top scores, not buried in oblivian.

The FBA could just take everybodies entry money and have then draw numbers from a hat. Then pick the winners and save a lot of animals from dying to produce the winner's list. The $ we save could fund one hell of a party at the "awards" ceremony. :lol:

Anyway, we do not have the money to play lotto with the FBA while we work on a combination that makes more of them happy. I have to feel that when I produce crappy product, I will receive crappy scores and when I produce great product, I will recieve appropriate scores.

That would be competetion, not gambling as it is now.

Gotta go unload a trailer.


jminion 01-09-2005 11:21 AM

I've been in this game for a while and a big part of it is the luck of getting high scoring tables, there is always tables that score higher than others. I'm not sure you will ever get consistant scoring because of judges tastes.
Hang in there you will have your day.

chad 01-09-2005 02:41 PM

Let's see: Bronchitis (set in Thursady night) and a cold - lots of Cold-Eze and made it through.

Led the wrong way down a 4 lane road and had to take the medium with the travel trailer -- only screwed up the power plug (must have scared the crap out of some drivers since I went about 120 miles home before realizing I had no lights!! :D

Scoring sucked. Competition was good - met and got to smooze with (FBA Team of the Year) and Woodhouse Grill (a real up and coming team), and spent time with other teams close by. Great people!

There's got to be a way to moderate the impact of consitently and selective high/low judges - perhaps like diving just toss the high and low and average the rest. I don't know - I do know that a 10 and 6.5 on the same category is WRONG! Oh well, enough about that.

We're probably, maybe, gonna try one more. Thanks for the encouragement.

JacksonsDad 01-09-2005 08:48 PM

Dad...I have had your 'cue, it's good! I can only think that David's mentoring and help would make it even better. My .02 is that these things are pretty closed knit in the competitors..I am sure some judges can recognize a teams cue. But, more importantly, your going up against personal prefence, which shouldn't be the case, but probably is. I think you guys have a hell of spirit to get out there and compete, keep it up! If those farkers in FBA can't get their sh!t straight, stick with KCBS. Start a fund for the next competition..I'll chip in!!

Bigdog 01-09-2005 09:13 PM

From what I understand about judging is that you need to do what the judges will like, not necessarily what is good, or what you like. There is also a wide discrepencey in judges scores. The FBA needs to do something about this IMHO. Hang in there guys and don't give up. Just figure out a way to beat the system.

chad 01-09-2005 09:54 PM


From what I understand about judging is that you need to do what the judges will like, not necessarily what is good, or what you like.
Not to sound like a smart ass but you speak the obvious. :D

Unfortunately most judges (not all) don't cook que and just come to stuff their faces and fill up their carry home "left over" bags!

Unfortunately, one of the primary judge trainers fills their ears about how what they are getting isn't just ordinary que and they "must" start scoring above the "average" -- hence inflated scoring right out of the chute. With this mindset if you happen to get a judge or table that really tries to judge the meat and sprinkles some 8's and 7.5's -- legit -- then you just got screwed and probably by the best judge at the table.

Also, they seem to miss the part about - if it's a 6 it's basically uncooked or unsafe next thing to a DQ -- so some yokel will hammer you with a 6.5. To me 6.5 means I spit it out -- not unsafe or uncooked but just nasty. And, yes, I've scored some 6.5 stuff -- just about had to wash my mouth out instead of "cleansing my palet"!

We are trying to find the key to the majority of the judges around here. We're debating about baling from FBA and going KCBS - however, there are very few events in Florida. We'll see.

jeffsasmokin 01-10-2005 04:14 AM

I was wondering, if this is as widespread as you say - isn't there a channel you can take to file some sort of formal complaint? There must be other teams that can see what's going on. I mean, without looking like a disgruntled contestant. Or in the circuit - is that a No - No?

chad 01-10-2005 06:59 AM

That is a No, No! We're the whiny butt new guys! :D And, it's not just us - as Tim pointed out, at least in our discussions, something is WRONG when the last place team in a category has a 10 or the 1st place team has a 6.5 -- that just borders on ludicrous. :mrgreen:

No, it won't get fixed any time soon -- there are ways to maginalize the "out of range" judge's influence but it would take time, training, and chuzpah on the part of the FBA and that isn't likely right now. Diving, gymnastics, skating, etc. have fought the same battles and still have issues every year.

It IS subjective and the human element will always play a huge role in the outcome of these contests. we'll just have to either figure out where we're coming up short or find another playground!!

Discussions about this issue are not well received by FBA. They are in growth and expansion mode, just made a huge change in team of the year scoring, etc.

Besides, the top teams would be top teams no matter what - each of them have made their mark in KCBS, MiM, and other federations - Jack's Old South,, Bill and the Dixie Chicks, etc. are all great teams - somehow (hard work and lots of experience) they've broken the code!! :D

I guess this is just another example of how "under capitalization" will defeat a startup every time -- we just can't afford to keep throwing away $500 or so (not counting travel & personal expenses) every week or two until we learn the secret of "The DaBrisket Code" :D

Thanks for the feedback and encouragement. Tim and I are in evaluation mode at this time - we've got a couple of weeks to mull things over - so, we'll be doing just that.

Bellybro 01-10-2005 11:12 AM

Hang in there! Don't give up!

BBQchef33 01-10-2005 11:19 AM

Without readin every post in here, i'll interject my .02. IMHO.. its way to early to hang it up. Your competitions are in the single digits!!! Geez... boys.. lower your standards to just going and learning and having a good time. Then after having some competition experience under your belts then make the call. ****, I only did 3. I never expect to win, just hope to. Ask Greg, the first time out i didnt even get up to go listen to the announcments. Was too tired.. Was there to learn and compete and have some fun.

The only thing we are guarenteed to take home from a competition is experience. The rest is a crap shoot. As far as affordability, any endevor we take in life requires and investment, and you can never get any job worth its salt without education and experience. That education or experience is going to cost $$. How much is college.? But that job after you graduate sure aint gonna be flipping burgers at 5 bucks an hour. Each one of our competitions adds to our education, and one day will be graduation day.

In Conneticut State Ch, i turned in inedible chicken just to turn it in and it took 1st place. In NY, I turned in crap/brisket that tasted like onion soup and it took 5th out of 26. No matter if your Chris Lilly of Dave Little :) , You can only do your best and the judges are blind. You NEVER know what a judge will do. We are new to the circuit. In the eyes of some "experts", we shouldnt even be expecting to place, never mind win. If ya ask these experts, if we do win.. Its only luck. At various events, I have tasted the Que from some of the(so called) best and its no better than any of our stuff... and some was downright mediocre. So I say bull****, they are just as lucky when they win.. cause a judge is just the guy next door who may or may not like our stuff on any given day.. we're out there doing it.. and one of thse times out there will be yours.. we do our best, hope for the best and will always walk away better off than when we got there. Maybe a trophy, maybe a check, but always an experience. Not to sound preachy.... Believe me, I know the frustration, but ya gotta hang in there.. Brethren don't give up. How many competitors out there have a backbone like this one?

chad 01-10-2005 12:37 PM

Thanks. But, it's not lack of backbone - it's lack of $$$ :D

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