Originally Posted by kwas68
Back to the OP...
I'm a comp noob with no credentials to speak of. The garnish issue is totally hypocritical, IM lowly O. I'm of the understanding that the garnish, or lack thereof, shouldn't affect a cook's score. However, when you scan the criticisms on this site along with BBQcritic, almost all will mention the garnish. How can a judge comment on the garnish if they were supposed to ignore it? I see comments like too low, too sparse in an area, not an even "frame," etc. For something that shouldn't matter, it gets a lot of attention. It is obvious, to me anyway, that judges are looking extensively at the garnish. It takes effort for a judge to determine if your garnish "frame" is uneven, for example. If a judge is actively comparing the size of the top row garnish to the bottom, he/she is burning calories on criteria that shouldn't influence their opinion. I have a hard time believing that a judge who has evaluated the garnish to this level of detail is just going to discard his evaluation. It WILL influence his score.
So the message that garnish is immaterial is not resonating with the judges. I think that this falls on KCBS training.
Knowing this, a cook can whine/bitch/complain (sorta like I did above) and lose, or adapt and pretend that you are being scored on presentation and not appearance. Because you are.
My take for what it's worth Kwas....
When you go to an art museum, all the paintings, or at least most, are in frames, correct? Now, not too many folks will pay much attention, if any, to the frames, but usually, the frame is picked so that the art it's framing "pops"
So, if I'm looking at a painting, and the frame does it's job and makes the art look better than if it weren't there, it's done it's job. But I'm not going to critique by saying they should have used knotty pine instead of cedar
On the other hand, I don't think I'd lose sleep if KCBS did away with garnish, but I don't see that happening
As to the whole smoke ring thing, I always cook comp briskets hot and fast, and always have at least a 1/4" smoke ring on them, without any chemicals other than what naturally occurs in the meat, and coals. I've tasted a number of briskets that were exposed to TQ (cook told me it was in the rub) and it tasted crappy. But technically, using TQ isn't against any rule. But other than adding color, what's the point. Brisket doesn't need curing unless you're making corned beef (edie: or sausage!)