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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 06-28-2011, 07:15 PM   #1
Mat
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Default First Competition?

I've been searching around the forums for what you guys bring/need to the competitions and boy, its some insane stuff.

I have a problem with taking something simple and turning it into a big cluster F and end up not doing it. After reading all these threads I feel like I need to spend a lot of money just to enter my first competition.

Right now all I own is my WSM 22.5 and the usual backyard bbq items. Gloves, knives, a broken maverick et-73 and thats really it. Can i even enter a comp and cook all the required meat on one 22.5?

I'm just looking for a no bs advice on what's needed and whats not. I might enter 1-2 small contests just for the fun of it and see how I like it before I go buying myself a canopy and a second smoker.

Thanks Guys

Mat
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Unread 06-28-2011, 07:25 PM   #2
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Its going to be tough on just 1 22" Weber, but at least it's a WSM. I think you'd probably need 2 of them to compete effectively in the KCBS/FBA style sanctioned cookoffs. 1 is probably enough to compete in a few unsanctioned competitions. Some are ribs only, others ribs and butts... You can definitely compete in those.
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Unread 06-28-2011, 07:32 PM   #3
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It can be done, but having at least a Weber Kettle to go with it would make life easier.

Of course, it depends on how much meat you want to cook. Most of us cook two briskets, two butts, three or four racks of ribs and a bunch of chicken pieces. If you think you can get away with one butt and one brisket, then they may fit on one shelf of the WSM, leaving you a shelf for the ribs. Then, when the big meats are done you can move them to a cooler to hold and have room for the chicken.

But, if you want to cook two butts and two briskets you'll have to time things so that the big meats are done early enough to be able to put the ribs on. I don't own a 22.5" WSM, so I'm not 100% sure that two briskets will fit one on rack.

Besides the stuff that you listed you will need a table (and some leg extensions to make working while standing easier), some bus tubs or dish pans to use for your three-bin wash station, some way to haul water or a hose, a way to heat water (no mandatory, but it sure is nice), and i think an Ez-Up or some sort of shelter is mandatory. Either the sun will bake you or the rain w ill soak you.
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Unread 06-28-2011, 07:53 PM   #4
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i just did my first comp with a 22.5" WSM and a cheapo brinkman grill. I think that is the minimum as far as cooking equipment. A EZ up is needed for your comfort a table to work on three wash tubs and a fire extinguisher. everything else is your choice. Do a practic at home cook with a realistic time line. See if you have what you need to get it done. keith
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Unread 06-29-2011, 08:17 AM   #5
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Unless you're doing something like MBN, you can compete and compete effectively with fairly small equipment. Truly, it's the cook, not the cooker. When I got started I did eventually RGC with only a small Brinkmann Stillwater (similar to today's Yoders) and 2 Weber 22 grills. It was a lot of work, but it's workable. For the most part, the guys with the big/nice equipment have just put more money into their hobby and make it a little easier on themselves by making it easier on fire control, etc. Like Ron said, for a sanctioned cookoff like KCBS, FBA, etc. you'll need enough space to smoke 2 briskets (you can do with just 1), 2 or 3 butts (again, you can do it with just 1), 2-4 racks of ribs, and usually about 16 pieces of chicken. MANY cook the chicken on simple weber grills.

First objective always is to have fun. Realize right off that this is a hobby. If you're not having fun there's really no reason to do it. Then know that the level of competition in a sanctioned cookoff is fairly stout. The quality of barbecue that gets presented is WAY up there. It's very helpful if you're able to go see a barbecue contest first. Even better would be if you were able to get yourself in a judges seat somewhere. A picture is worth a thousand words...
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Unread 06-29-2011, 10:44 AM   #6
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Default Just Do it

OK so you have one WSM- do it. Forget about cooking 2 briskets just cook the one. Cook the two porks because most of the time two come in a pack. Like it was said above, cook the big meats first and then wrap them and put them into a cooler, you are good to go.
Then cook the chicken and ribs.

I would reccomend using the webber kettle, we cook the chicken on it and finsih the ribs on our kette.
We started out with a WSM and two kettles. Do the first competition cheap, don't go an buy all new stuff because you think you will need it, save the money for the adult beverage of your choice. Borrow borrow borrow from friends and your neighbors, i am sure one of them has an ez up and stuff.
Good Luck,
Jump on in the waters fine. Remember if you do one comp its like drinking the grape coolaid.

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Unread 06-29-2011, 11:36 AM   #7
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All good advice.

I was inspired by a site I saw at the American Royal the first year I went, just to be there. It was a small, single space with a single drum smoker and a Weber kettle. All the guy had for shelter was his hat and his anti-gravity chair. He was sitting there with a big grin on his face and his hat pulled down over his eyes,

I figure if that guy can have fun and compete at the ARBBQ with such minimalist equipment then I should be able to compete with only slightly more.

I agree that a canopy is really, really nice to have, although not necessary. I feel like the one I bought for $80 on sale in the middle of December a couple few years back is one of the best investments I've ever made.

Second on the list would be the plastic folding table with pvc pipe leg extensions. Unless you're young and your back is in great shape, a table makes life SO much easier. I bought one of the two I have for, I think, about $35. My son gave me the other one for a birthday gift.

A minimalist setup has its advantages. It takes less time to load, it's less expensive to haul to and from because of less weight in the vehicle and it takes less time to unload at the site, load it back up after the competition and to unload it again when you get home.

You can do it - it just takes planning. For sure do some test cooks out in the backyard, not only to see what equipment you need, but also to get your plan and timing down.

Hope this helps -
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Unread 06-29-2011, 11:44 AM   #8
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You want the no BS answer....

In my opinion, you need another WSM. Figure 2-3 tables, 2-3 coolers, thermopen, canopy with walls and a good teammate or two. Anything less than that, I wouldn't step up to the plate. Prep yourself well and give yourself a shot at walking, go in with the minimum and you'll be miserable.

Again, just my 2 cents. Feel free to email me if you have any more questions. dan at 3eyzbbq dot com.
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Unread 06-29-2011, 11:53 AM   #9
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As noted above, you can do it with the solo WSM, but if you go that route (and even if you don't) buy a Cambro to help hold your meat temps as you'll have to have your big cuts done early and need to hold to temperature.

Aside from that, an ice chest to take meat with you, at least one table (tall enough to work at comfortably) a few knives and some bus tubs for wash and you're set. Everything else really becomes "comfort" factors, like an EZ UP (if you get a tent, make sure you have something to secure it down with, I like 5 gallon buckets full of water).

That being said, another WSM would make it easier for you, as you could do shoulders in one while doing briskets, then pull those off and turn on into your rib machine and the other a chicken machine.
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Unread 06-29-2011, 12:54 PM   #10
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So really, I suppose it all comes down to three basic question areas:

How comfortable you personally can be without a canopy, tables, etc.

How good you personally are at planning and timing (which is a function of how well you know your cooker).

How much you personally can afford to spend on anything beyond the bare fundamentals.

You should probably also check the rules for equipment that you MUST have.

http://www.kcbs.us/pdf/2011_Rules_an...12-10-2010.pdf

such as a fire extinguisher and separate containers for washing, rinsing and sanitizing of utensils.
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Unread 06-29-2011, 01:26 PM   #11
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I have reread your initial question several times.

You use the phrase "required meats". Don't know if you think all 4 are required.
Just in case, they are NOT all required. You can cook as little as one catagory and still compete.
They are only required if you want to compete for GC or RGC (KCBS and FBA).

So, to get a bit of experience, just cook one or two catagories.
Focus on the meats you are most comfortable with.

That will get your feet wet and limit the amount of equipment needed.
Also, keeps it cheaper for meats and seasoning.
Also a better chance of having fun--which is the goal of all this anyway.

Just a different approach to meet the goals you stated at the beginning.

Equipment?
Something for sanitation (bus tubs) and a fire extinguisher.
A table to prep and build boxes on (good advice above about raising it)
HD alumnum foil if you are gonna "cooler" the big meats.
A cooler large enough for any big meats you need to hold.
A chair of some sort.
A canopy for the excellent reasons given. I will bet that if you asked nice, a team in the area would loan you one of their extras. I know I would.

You will get hooked, trust me

Good Luck,

TIM
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Unread 06-29-2011, 01:35 PM   #12
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All great advice already. You should definitely go to Battle of BBQ Brethren, it looks like you are pretty close by.
http://www.bbqbattleli.com/
Slower Lower will be there. I'll be the hungover one
We cook with a few WSMs, but have been at it a couple years now and have grown our gear a bit. Yes, it can be an expensive hobby, but I have a team-mate to split the cost with, so that helps a lot. Feel free to come hang with us on Friday or Saturday if you'd like. You could also try posting in the team mentoring forum to see if you could work with some teams in your area and get a better feel for competition.

I'll warn you now, you WILL get hooked!
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Unread 06-29-2011, 02:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Kapn View Post
I
You use the phrase "required meats". Don't know if you think all 4 are required.
Just in case, they are NOT all required. You can cook as little as one catagory and still compete.
They are only required if you want to compete for GC or RGC (KCBS and FBA).

TIM
That's correct. The first couple of competitions that I/we did were on a borrowed smoker and we only had 1 or 2 entries.

A great way to make a list of things you need to bring are to lock yourself in the yard and start cooking (add to your list of all the stuff you have to run inside to grab).
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Unread 06-29-2011, 08:19 PM   #14
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We just did our first KCBS this past weekend with a MAK, and two 22" WSM's. Two briskets and two butts on the MAK, and then one WSM for ribs and one for chicken. BBQ gurus on the WSM's. Having the extra WSM was a god-send. Without it we would have had to cook the chicken on our Weber kettle.

One thing I will say about preparing for your first contest - make sure you run through all four meats as if you were doing actual turn ins - so you can make sure you have your times somewhat close - and make a list of everything you use to do those categories so you know what you need to bring at a minimum. We did this and still forgot very important stuff - like a lighter/matches for the charcoal.
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Unread 06-29-2011, 10:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Kapn View Post
I have reread your initial question several times.

You use the phrase "required meats". Don't know if you think all 4 are required.
Just in case, they are NOT all required. You can cook as little as one catagory and still compete.
They are only required if you want to compete for GC or RGC (KCBS and FBA).

So, to get a bit of experience, just cook one or two catagories.
Focus on the meats you are most comfortable with.

That will get your feet wet and limit the amount of equipment needed.
Also, keeps it cheaper for meats and seasoning.
Also a better chance of having fun--which is the goal of all this anyway.

Just a different approach to meet the goals you stated at the beginning.

Equipment?
Something for sanitation (bus tubs) and a fire extinguisher.
A table to prep and build boxes on (good advice above about raising it)
HD alumnum foil if you are gonna "cooler" the big meats.
A cooler large enough for any big meats you need to hold.
A chair of some sort.
A canopy for the excellent reasons given. I will bet that if you asked nice, a team in the area would loan you one of their extras. I know I would.

You will get hooked, trust me

Good Luck,

TIM
I'm glad you took the time to really analyze what I was asking. I guess I wanted to ask but felt stupid. I wouldnt mind entering a contest and just cooking pork and ribs and punting the other two. Right now my ribs and pork are almost dialed in nice. The chicken and brisket are two that I need cook more.

Thanks again for taking the time.
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