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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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Unread 04-12-2011, 08:31 PM   #1
CritterCrusher
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Unhappy 1st Cook-Off

Well, I tried at my first cook-off this weekend and busted. Out of 22 teams, I didnít even place in the top ten. Has this happen to anyone else? We cooked half chickens, pork spare ribs and briskets. I stayed traditional due to a small country town thinking they wouldnít like sweet but that didnít work. I know a few guys that place on the sweeter ribs and placed.
So my question is, are the majority of you placing on sweet, traditional or spicy on ribs, brisket or chicken. Just looking for a few suggestions before I say forget it and stay home.
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Unread 04-12-2011, 08:45 PM   #2
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one comp is way too soon to forget it. I like sweet on the ribs, a little sweet and spicy on chicken and savory on the brisket
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Unread 04-12-2011, 08:47 PM   #3
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Worry less about where you place. It's supposed to be fun. If you had fun keep doing. If you like your Que keep doing it. Been in 7 contests over the past two years had an 8th place chicken, having fun and will keep doing it until i can't do it anymore. The walk will happen, remember not everyone can place in the top categories every contest.
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Unread 04-12-2011, 09:02 PM   #4
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Oh, Fun I did have. I can't remember much of a better time. Everyone was great, helpful and kind. I have not been around a bunch of people like that in two years. It's actually quite nice to be around people like that, now I have to get my wife on board to let me do some more.
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Unread 04-12-2011, 09:10 PM   #5
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I'm not sure about your part of the state. But if you want some tips, PM me.
Ty
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Unread 04-12-2011, 09:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scm1226 View Post
Worry less about where you place. It's supposed to be fun. If you had fun keep doing. If you like your Que keep doing it. Been in 7 contests over the past two years had an 8th place chicken, having fun and will keep doing it until i can't do it anymore. The walk will happen, remember not everyone can place in the top categories every contest.
true that
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Unread 04-12-2011, 10:14 PM   #7
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We cooked our first year and never made a final table. Got our first walks the second year, all bottom half of top ten. The 4th year we got our first 1st place walks and our first Reserve GC. This year, our 5th year cooking, we won our first GC. We have actually won GC at two out of three contests cooked this year. Hang in there and keep cookin'. Don't give up just yet.
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Unread 04-12-2011, 10:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CritterCrusher View Post
Out of 22 teams, I didnít even place in the top ten. Has this happen to anyone else? .... Just looking for a few suggestions before I say forget it and stay home.
This happens to almost EVERYONE else. We went into our first comp in '06 with big expectations, and finished in the bottom 3rd (14th of 21). Last year we finished in the top ten in over half of our contests.

There is a lot to learn the first time out. Don't give up after one. As you now know, it's harder than it looks. Stuff made in the backyard may be great, but cooking everything at the same time, turning in on a tight schedule, and dealing with contest distractions takes some practice.

Since you asked for advice:

1) Your instinct is right: sweet often wins, except on beef.

2) Cooking something "different" to set you apart from the crowd doesn't work so well in blind judging (was this KCBS?). Some judges will reward your risk taking, but others will ding you for being "off" from their expectations.

3) Take a judging class and judge a few events. When you get hit with the raspberry/mandarin orange glaze on the ribs (and you will) you will see what I mean about point #2.

4) Take a course or two, or attend a contest with some good local teams.
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Unread 04-12-2011, 11:23 PM   #9
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My first comp I finished 39th out of 47 with my best place being 20th in chicken. 3 weeks later in a comp of 20 teams, took a 2nd in chicken. I learned a lot in my first comp, and hope to learn even more in the 5 future comps I am doing this season.

Made some good new friends, learned some things, and hopefully, I might be able to get a walk or 2. My 1st comp I was next to a pretty good team, placed 9th overall, and I also learned some things from the GC of that comp. I saw he was a local team and just asked some tips on how things go and what not. I will definetley be much more prepared this year.

My first event was KCBS, and I was told by many different teams, that sweet is a good thing, except on brisket, as mentioned by CBQ. My 2nd was a non sanctioned, local event, where your tastes and flavors could win.

Good luck in future competitions! I was hooked after one event. It's an overnight tailgate followed by, instead of a football game, an awards ceremony!

Hope to meet some of you out there in the Northeast!
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Unread 04-13-2011, 08:42 AM   #10
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Critter, please, dont be too hard on yourself. You succeeded if you weren't DAL.

The first comp is more about learning than anything else. That, and having fun!

Even now, years later, probably 80 comps behind me between chili and barbecue, bad outings happen. 2 years back I did a comp where the timeline was condensed shorter than we ordinarily do it and ended up we WAY over-compensated and all the barbecue went out cold as a result. Previous 3 competitions we'd walked in most everything with 2 RGC's, this comp we were WAY down in the bottom 1/3rd. It happens...
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Unread 04-13-2011, 08:58 AM   #11
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I agree, don't be so hard on yourself. It's always nice to win, sure, but the fun is what makes it all worthwhile! If this was your first time out, be realistic - what did you expect? I doubt you were competing against a bunch of other first-time cookers!

There's a lot of contest activity around you; you might want to stop by the judging area at a contest and volunteer to help out. You'll be surprised what you can learn from that!

Lynn H.
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Unread 04-13-2011, 11:29 AM   #12
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Sweet is the way to go
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Unread 04-13-2011, 11:30 AM   #13
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This isn't "T" Ball... not everyone gets to win and/or get a trophy.
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Unread 04-13-2011, 11:32 AM   #14
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in your comp a bunch of teams finished below 10th place. It could take years to break into the top ten.
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Unread 04-13-2011, 11:38 AM   #15
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I would say that your experience is pretty much the norm for a first contest! We got stomped for a good long time when we got started. In your first few competitions, your benchmarks have to be different: Did you avoid DAL or a DQ? Did you get all your turn-ins the way you wanted them? Are you cooking a consistent product? Did you find opportunities to tighten up your process?

The only thing you can control is what goes on in your camp, and that's where your focus should be. Any veteran team can tell you about times when they've submitted the best product of their cooking career, stuff they objectively know is good, and the judges hated it. Conversely, there are those days where a mediocre product is met with approval, and it evens out the statistics. The point being, you can't control the judging, so you have to set performance goals for yourself and your cook that YOU can evaluate. Those goals should be ones that will streamline your process, improve the consistency of your product, and make you a better and less stressed cook.

Besides, one contest isn't enough to display a learning curve! Really, you learn more at a contest than anywhere else -- it'd be a shame if you didn't put that experience to use. You might well find that you display steady improvement after a few times going to war.

From your location and the categories cooked, I'm guessing that contest was IBCA -- and it's tough when you get no feedback from the judging. VQ talked to the head judge after our first IBCA contest, who actually remembered our spectacularly bad entries and had constructive comments. Without specific feedback like KCBS raw scores, I would try to learn what I could from other teams -- ask them to sample and comment on your food. And I concur that helping out in the judging area and observing carefully will offer a lot of data.
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