What I learned at the LI Grill Kings Barbecue Contest
I was only observing at the contest. I was there trying to learn everything I could. I do plan on cooking next year and here's what I learned. This is really a note to myself for the future. And everything is only my untested opinion.
First and most important -- Remeber You can win this thing. (Such hutzpah! - but you gotta go in with the right attitude or why bother.)
1. Provide shade. Lots of it.
2. Provide seating - somewhere to lay down.
3. Provide comfortable work surfaces.
4. Create a private workspace for when the pressure is on and you want to work without the prying eyes of someone like myself.
5. Bring music that you like and relaxes you.
6. Water, water and more water. Water to drink, water to wash your equipment and hands.
7. Mosquito netting to keep bugs off food. But the bugs were kept at bay by all the smoke.
8. Decorations. Make the space fun.
9. If you have electricity - provide a fan so you have somewhere to cool off.
10. Provide something for the kids to do. Better yet, tell friends and family to arrive later in the day after food has been submitted.
11. A large clock to keep track of the time.
12. Don't drink till all the Q is with the judges.
Food and Equipment:
1. Sinks and buckets. Be prepared to wash everything. A LOT. Wash you, your work surfaces, tools, equipment etc.
2. Cutting boards. Remember Paul Kirk's suggestions of counter-tops from sinks.
3. Duplicate equipment. Don't loose time looking for things.
4. Organized equipment. Setup somewhere to keep everything handy and readily available.
5. Work surfaces. Think about how the Jakes or Zakes had raised the tables so that you didn't have to bend over to work.
7. Gloves and closed shoes for manipulating fire and hot food.
8. Extra presentation stuff and garnish.
9. Bring a first aid kit and drugs. Aspirin is a good thing.
10. Bring a fire extinguisher.
11. Get your food ready for finishing early. Give yourself time to setup the presentation.
12. Don't get your food in as the first entries. Maybe get them in first. There was a rib entry that I didn't think was very good, but was one of the first presented and won. (It wasn't Phil and Gregs!) But I remember my judging class. The judges were toughest on the first entries they sampled.
13. Make your own sauce. Maybe - Maybe not. I saw a lot of prepackaged sauces! No one I spoke with used the sauce that they submitted for the best sauce contest as the sauce on their meat. Interesting.
14. Buy the nutemps. Almost everyone was using them.
15. Bring a garbage pail and garbage bags.
1. Cook for myself, not for the judges.
2. Keep a sense of humor.
3. Give everyone certain roles on the team. Don't wind up arguing about stupid **** at the last minute.
4. KNOW the rules. One guy asked me to look at his ribs before they went in. He had big bunch of basil on top of them. Basil is against the rules and he would have lost points on appearence.
5. Take a deep breath and take a last look at the food before you close up the package. It's a lot like the last look in the coffin before you close it up. Just like saying goodbye to a dead friend, it's in God's hands now.
6. Prepare extra food for the masses that everyone in the neighborhood feeds. Have someone available to feed them. Listen to them. Because I could move from cook to cook, I got to taste a lot of the food before it went up. I knew some of the winners long before they did. However, don't listent to the other CONTESTANTS.
7. Don't worry about the food too much. You've cooked enough Q to allow your instincts to direct you.
8. Have fun.
9. Don't be a chicken **** - just do it!