I only agree with chad and kpn halfway.
My team only did 3 events last year, but everyone of them was fun. I say it all the time, any one person can win a contest at any one time.
Jason, get your ass out there and compete, regardless of the competition. Go out there a few times to learn how to compete
. You know how to cook allready, but competeing is an art in itself. The hours from 6AM to 1:30PM is an entire world away from the backyard. Thats the stuff you have to experience. Cooking the food is the easy part but the art of competing is the hard part. Getting your timings right, rapid fire turnin of 4 meats at their best point exactly at a 10 minute window... that is the trick. You will never get that practice in the backyard. So go compete, who cares where you place the first few times. First time out you may be tripping all over yourself just to get the stuff done at the right time.
On a different issue..... heres where I differ from chad....
Personally, I can't take it that seriously becase then it aint fun, its work. But i'm not(yet) trying to make a living out of it either. Only thing i get out of competing is personal satisfaction and exposure for our group. Of course you prep for winning, you get the best of what you can and do your best with it. But friday night is a party,..... in betweeen prep work. If you time stuff right, you have between 6 and midnight while stuff is brining, absorbing rubs, marinating, etc to kick back and schmooze. You need an hour or so in the middle of the party to get the butts and briskets in around 11-midnight and after that its tend pit and party some more.. or s;leep if u can. Come 6AM, party is over and its time to get to work. Timing is always what your learning here.
heres a little scenario starting at 5-6 am.
Brisket and butts have been in all night and its time for chicken and ribs to go in. Gotta hope the butts or brisket don't "hang" at 175 for the next 6 hours. It happens,.... they get stuck and your 12 hour planned pork butt takes 14. Same for brisket. That is weighing on you as you prep for ribs and chicken, every 10 minutes checking meat temps to make sure they are climbing. Time the chicken to come out and be at the most perfect point of the process......... at 11:55, no later than 12:05. Time the ribs to be KCBS perfect at 12:25, no later than 12:35. Time that pork butt to finish and have some coolered rest time, then start pulling it or slicing it at 12:36 for a 1:00 turnin. No sooner, you dont want it to get mushy. Start slicing brisket, timed so they stay perfect and dont keep cooking, or dry out while they sit in a box for 15 minutes.
Decisions decisions, when do u turn in? at the beginning of the window?, midway? the last minute? each has advantages/disadvanteges. When do you start slicing, start pulling, which ribs look best, which pieces fit best in the box..
This is competing.
Dont master this stuff, and you will crash and burn even if you produce the very best food on the planet.
Only way you will get that experience is to go to the contests. Even if it the American royal open. You need to start somewhere. And if you get your arse handed to you, put some rub on it, let sit overnight and cook it up.. A butts a butt.
Even with all this, and the huge stress level around turnin time, competing to me is fun, meeting the people in the circuit and that Friday night party. i come prepared with food and booze specifically for friday night. To be able to meet those people you see on FoodTV is a thrill, shake hands, get a picture with Chris lilly, get some pointers from Byron, and have a few shots with Dirty Dick.. and every time, let them know who "The Brethren" are. Sooner or later, maybe one day, like our splash page says, they will
"Fear the Pig". Yet, Its nice to "take the walk" to get that trophy, but its not all consuming.. not yet anyway. Going into a contest with nothing(no wins), you have nothing to loose, and all to gain. It will be harder down the road when your trying to keep a streak going, or trying to regain your place in KCBS rankings. But for now, who cares? go out and have some fun and learn a whole bunch while your doing it.
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You know your getting older when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy
Smoke on KC.