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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Old 06-19-2018, 01:16 PM   #61
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This seems to be a chicken and egg question. Do judges only get sauced thighs because that's what the teams want to cook, or do teams only cook thighs because that's what the judges want to see?

Several years ago I turned in Lollipop chicken in a small, regional competition. It was, BY FAR, the best chicken I've ever turned in. It was also, BY FAR, the most labor intensive chicken I've ever done. I was sure I was going to win in chicken... nope! I think judges are conditioned to expect chicken entries to be sweet, sauced thighs-- anything unexpected or unusual faces an uphill fight.

The next year I went back to thighs (which were much easier to prep) and took first. Although the previous year's Lollipop chicken was much better, the thighs brought home the trophy. After that I decided to cook for the judges and stick to script.
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Old 06-19-2018, 01:53 PM   #62
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The way it was presented in my CBJ class, is to judge it for what it is. If you like sauced chicken, and you get an unsauced piece, but it's the best unsauced chicken you can imagine - let your score reflect it.

That being said, I'm sure that this unconsciously is a factor, as evidenced by the fact that straying too far from the norm rarely, if ever, works.

I would like to take a judging class one day. Here is a question for you.

I don't like sweet chicken. If it has any sweet then to me it's too sweet. Can one judge accordingly? Ie give a lower mark for being too sweet/salty/Smoky etc?
Thanks
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Old 06-19-2018, 02:34 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by el luchador View Post
I would like to take a judging class one day. Here is a question for you.

I don't like sweet chicken. If it has any sweet then to me it's too sweet. Can one judge accordingly? Ie give a lower mark for being too sweet/salty/Smoky etc?
Thanks
I took the class back in 2013, but I do judge some every year (cook more, though). What I remember, or at least my interpretation of the instruction, was that you are to judge it for what it is, not what it's not. So, if you taste it, and yeah, it's too sweet for your personal taste, but man, that's some outstanding sweet chicken - then you should score it high. Because what it is is excellent.

That being said, if the sweetness overpowers the other flavors, and is cloying, then yes, you could score down. Because what it is is cloying and too sweet.

Clear as mud?
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Old 06-19-2018, 02:45 PM   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by el luchador View Post
I would like to take a judging class one day. Here is a question for you.

I don't like sweet chicken. If it has any sweet then to me it's too sweet. Can one judge accordingly? Ie give a lower mark for being too sweet/salty/Smoky etc?
Thanks
I'll try to answer your question, based on my understanding. Pick any ingredient or attribute you like, and I'll use sugar since you don't care for sweet chicken.

I shouldn't score the entry lower because of the use of sugar or other sweeteners. I can score the entry lower if the ingredient(s) weren't used well. Did the cook balance the flavors well, whether I liked all of them or not? If yes they should receive a suitably high score. If it was just so over the top sweet that a judge with diabetes would go into shock just looking at the entry then I should be deducting points.

I've disagreed with people in the past over this issue. I don't have a problem with a judge that scores an entry lower because the flavor of mustard is too prominent. I have issues with judges that state that they don't like mustard and will score an entry lower because the cook used mustard, or the judge believes that they used it.

You are judging the ingredients that are present, not what isn't present, and how well the cook made the ingredients work together. If you can't move past personal preference and bias then you probably shouldn't be a judge.
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Old 06-19-2018, 03:04 PM   #65
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You are judging the ingredients that are present, not what isn't present, .
thanks for the response.

and that's what I find confusing. I understand you don't want to give bad marks because enough smoke wasn't present, or enough salt wasn't present(but wouldn't that be bland chicken?),

but if the chicken is ,say for example, too salty, then salt is present and its present "bigly" and that's not a good thing.

can a bite of chicken be too salty but still be balanced? or be too salty and still score high marks?
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Old 06-19-2018, 03:08 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by midwest_kc View Post
I took the class back in 2013, but I do judge some every year (cook more, though). What I remember, or at least my interpretation of the instruction, was that you are to judge it for what it is, not what it's not. So, if you taste it, and yeah, it's too sweet for your personal taste, but man, that's some outstanding sweet chicken - then you should score it high. Because what it is is excellent.

That being said, if the sweetness overpowers the other flavors, and is cloying, then yes, you could score down. Because what it is is cloying and too sweet.

Clear as mud?
"outstanding sweet chicken" would be an oxymoron to me. lol. so maybe the judging criteria is be subjective but open minded?
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Old 06-19-2018, 07:33 PM   #67
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For whatever it's worth, I mentioned your restaurant to my sister, who moved to Springfield a few years ago. She took her husband there for his birthday a few weeks back, and they were raving about your food. Apparently, his dad (who only smokes at home, and never in comps) has been to two of your classes. We are from KC, so she has grown up with lots of BBQ chicken, and it sounds like yours was pretty great. It makes me want to try some competition chicken.
Nice! That’s very cool. I appreciate you letting me know!
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Old 06-20-2018, 10:28 AM   #68
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thanks for the response.

and that's what I find confusing. I understand you don't want to give bad marks because enough smoke wasn't present, or enough salt wasn't present(but wouldn't that be bland chicken?),

but if the chicken is ,say for example, too salty, then salt is present and its present "bigly" and that's not a good thing.

can a bite of chicken be too salty but still be balanced? or be too salty and still score high marks?
I could probably write a 50 page thesis and not cover everything to completely answer your questions.

The short version is that "bland" chicken should be scored accordingly. In KCBS scoring, taste is weighted the heaviest. I think of hospital food as being bland. Bland comp BBQ isn't a good thing. Salt, or any other ingredient, can be more pronounced or even prominent but the more any single ingredient stands out the bigger the risk the cook takes. If, as an unbiased judge, the entry works it should be rewarded. If a cook wants to amp up the flavor and everything is perfectly balanced that's their choice, and a risk they take because if a judge can't taste the meat the score could very well reflect that. If the meat is just a carrier for rub, sauce, injection, and brine is it still really BBQ? Even if it's still BBQ, is it good if you can't taste the meat?

If you'd like to try an experiment on salt in comp BBQ take a look at the IBCA calendar and find a DFW area contest at a VFW or Elk's Lodge and go judge. You'll get a salt lick from many of the cooks. Salt stands out to some of those judges that have been smoking and drinking beer;) Then find another IBCA contest in the same area, maybe Cops for Kids in Ft. Worth and see how those entries compare.
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Old 06-20-2018, 10:41 AM   #69
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(OP here --- again!)

Thanks/it's interesting to read your guys discussion of sweet and salty chicken. I am having a little trouble, though, with the notion of not judging something that isn't there.

Suppose I am presented with a rib that has been simply boiled (over a wood fire, of course) to perfect KCBS tenderness. But no sauce, no rub, no seasoning at all. Am I to judge it only based on what it is? If I think its the best possible flavorless boiled rib on the planet am i to give it a 9 for taste?
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Old 06-20-2018, 11:09 AM   #70
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(OP here --- again!)

Thanks/it's interesting to read your guys discussion of sweet and salty chicken. I am having a little trouble, though, with the notion of not judging something that isn't there.

Suppose I am presented with a rib that has been simply boiled (over a wood fire, of course) to perfect KCBS tenderness. But no sauce, no rub, no seasoning at all. Am I to judge it only based on what it is? If I think its the best possible flavorless boiled rib on the planet am i to give it a 9 for taste?
No, you score it a nine for tenderness because you said it was perfectly cooked. The taste you described was flavorless so you would score that accordingly. What they are saying by don’t judge it by what isn’t there is if an entry is well seasoned and tastes great and has no sauce don’t ding the entry because it doesn’t have sauce. If it tastes great the score should reflect that it’s great. It shouldn’t be scored lower because it doesn’t have sauce.
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Old 06-20-2018, 03:25 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by Jorge View Post
I could probably write a 50 page thesis and not cover everything to completely answer your questions.

The short version is that "bland" chicken should be scored accordingly. In KCBS scoring, taste is weighted the heaviest. I think of hospital food as being bland. Bland comp BBQ isn't a good thing. Salt, or any other ingredient, can be more pronounced or even prominent but the more any single ingredient stands out the bigger the risk the cook takes. If, as an unbiased judge, the entry works it should be rewarded. If a cook wants to amp up the flavor and everything is perfectly balanced that's their choice, and a risk they take because if a judge can't taste the meat the score could very well reflect that. If the meat is just a carrier for rub, sauce, injection, and brine is it still really BBQ? Even if it's still BBQ, is it good if you can't taste the meat?

If you'd like to try an experiment on salt in comp BBQ take a look at the IBCA calendar and find a DFW area contest at a VFW or Elk's Lodge and go judge. You'll get a salt lick from many of the cooks. Salt stands out to some of those judges that have been smoking and drinking beer;) Then find another IBCA contest in the same area, maybe Cops for Kids in Ft. Worth and see how those entries compare.
That's a great idea thanks.
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Old 06-24-2018, 06:23 PM   #72
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So after reading this thread, I decided to try to just tweak my copycat chicken that you mentioned most teams use (myself included). I didn't go crazy, just a tweak to be a little different with flavors. The contest had 50 teams so I thought why not try something and perhaps be rewarded. My taste scores were 9,9,8,8,6,5. Lesson learned. Keep it between the lines. I knew appearance scores would suffer (and they did with three 8's and three 7's) but I wanted to see if a bit of a different flavor could pay off. Two loved it, two thought it was good and the other two didn't like it. Ended up 40th place. Now back to your regularly scheduled chicken recipes.
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Old 06-24-2018, 06:34 PM   #73
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So after reading this thread, I decided to try to just tweak my copycat chicken that you mentioned most teams use (myself included). I didn't go crazy, just a tweak to be a little different with flavors. The contest had 50 teams so I thought why not try something and perhaps be rewarded. My taste scores were 9,9,8,8,6,5. Lesson learned. Keep it between the lines. I knew appearance scores would suffer (and they did with three 8's and three 7's) but I wanted to see if a bit of a different flavor could pay off. Two loved it, two thought it was good and the other two didn't like it. Ended up 40th place. Now back to your regularly scheduled chicken recipes.
Jeez. Sorry to hear that. (OP here)

What does that say about KCBS contests if every team must strive to produce examples the same standard product? it seems kind of sad to me. Or is that not the right diagnosis?

Just out of curiosity, are you willing to say what you did? Pix?
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Old 06-25-2018, 08:20 AM   #74
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Jeez. Sorry to hear that. (OP here)

What does that say about KCBS contests if every team must strive to produce examples the same standard product? it seems kind of sad to me. Or is that not the right diagnosis?

Just out of curiosity, are you willing to say what you did? Pix?
To me, what it says, is that judges get used to certain types of flavors. Some of them can still get something a little outside of the norm and judge it accordingly. Successful teams have chimed in and what they say is true. You need to have tender meat that won't offend any single judge with taste. Not too much of any one flavor should stand out.

My change was to not inject or brine but instead use a marinade. It's not Italian dressing (others have already tried that without success). It's something we used when we first started and had some success with but not consistently. It resulted in a little darker color and a different taste.
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Old 06-25-2018, 10:32 AM   #75
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Jeez. Sorry to hear that. (OP here)

What does that say about KCBS contests if every team must strive to produce examples the same standard product? it seems kind of sad to me. Or is that not the right diagnosis?

Just out of curiosity, are you willing to say what you did? Pix?
i think it says exactly what one would expect it to say. the chicken recipes that everyone strives to do so well and that are so similar are middle of the road and are the most trustworthy and least offensive style to produce.

anytime you think outside the box and try things not usually the norm you always run the risk of finding some who like it alot, some who think it is pretty good and some that simply do not like it at all. thats why it is considered out the box or a risk. and that's exactly what his scores represented and thats why he says "now back to our regularly scheduled recipes"......comp BBQ is not usually the best of places to get too wild with a recipe.....little tweaks here and there can even hurt you alot. sometimes they help.....we just came back with a 4th place chicken and a 3rd place brisket and slightly modified both of our recipes. BUT both were inside the realm of what is considered "normal" on the KCBS circuit.

I have come to understand that with the money I have invested and the time and energy that it takes to do comps, that I am willing to play the game and just try to give the judges the most balanced, tasty, tender, non offensive BBQ they have ever tasted. I will leave the out of the box recipes and wild variations to my home cooking.
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