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Greg60525 06-26-2010 08:39 PM

Competition Site Set-up Advice
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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'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.


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


Originally Posted by boogiesnap (Post 1321035)
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 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


Originally Posted by nthole (Post 1321197)
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


Originally Posted by Ford (Post 1321204)
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.

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