Welcome! I am new around the Brethren as well but been screwing around with BBQ for a long time and am a CBJ. No where near Master Judge or even expert status but I will share my 2 pennies. And like the subjectiveness of bbq judging in general much on the appearance front is in the eyes of the beholder.
So how about this? A rundown off the top of my head (and in no particular order) of what I think makes a good KCBS turn-in box. Not going to comment on how the meat itself should look.
You can read what constitutes a DQ by reading the KCBS regs.
1. The garnish as intended is supposed to enhance the look of the product. Samples should sit above the plane (proud) of the garnish (not buried down in).
2. Neat and tidy - no sauce drips or smudges. After closing box open one last time to make sure the bottom of the lid isn't hitting the meat.
3. Appearance that some level of thought went into presentation/design and that the product wasn't just thrown into the box.
4. Keep it simple - to many go overboard or don't know when to stop adding garnish. Garnish between samples seems to draw your eye away from the product. Think of the garnish as the picture frame around a work of art. Should enhance but not become the focus.
5. Of course, the garnish should be fresh. Store the garnish the same way it was at the market. Mind that it doesn't end up covered in ice in your cooler. A couple hours before you begin assembling boxes cut the stems clean and place in water to plump things up.
6. 2nd part of #4 - Don't overcrowd. A consistent border around the product. If product is placed on the bias then each side should be somewhat symmetrical. Visual balance is key! If one side of the box looks "heavy" then you may want to moves things around a bit.
7. # of samples - 6 samples at a minimum but a couple extra is smart in case something happens en-route to the judges table. It is human nature to pick the best of the bunch. If the last judge has only one choice and it doesn't look that great, even though the overall appearance score has already been made I firmly believe subliminally it affects (however minor) the outcome of the remaining scores.
8. For ribs and brisket I like to see the cross-section of the meat highlighted. Judges are not supposed to factor the level of smoke ring but again there is the subliminal side to judging and a nice smoke ring makes the meat look more appetizing.
All I can think of for now and I'm sure I missed something obvious!?!
Originally Posted by a_cmc_2b
Hello to everyone out there...
I am new here and plan on entering my first KCBS competition in April...Anyway after looking at every post in this thread I was hoping that maybe some of you good folks could tell us newbies exactly what made each box bad. I did see a couple that it was obvious but some looked good to me. Knowing why they were bad would make this thread much more beneficial (IMO).