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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 01-28-2012, 05:48 PM   #1
nmayeux
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Today, I finally attended the KCBS judging class after trying for four years. However, one thing I noticed was that the overwhelming majority of attendees had never cooked in a competition, and is some cases never attended a competition.

Now the reason for taking the class is to see what the other side is doing in the competition to try to tighten up my scores. But it was a little disheartening to see a lack of understanding of what it means to be a competitor. The instuctor was wonderful, and made a point to illustrate what it takes to get the boxes to the table.

What made it even more concerning is that several of the acting table captains (a few who I know and competed against personally) voiced concerns that their applications for judging were being rejected.

What I am getting at, is that I am wondering if there some way that we could influence the KCBS to add weight to judges who are also competitors? Does anyone else have the same concerns?
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Unread 01-28-2012, 06:35 PM   #2
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I started out in 2003 as a judge who never knew what a cook team was or had never even been to a contest. I really did not understand BBQ until I started cooking a couple of years later. I totally understand your concern. I was a table captain at a class last year where I saw all the fresh-faced people training to be judges with no experience in BBQ. Honestly, that is not the problem. We need new judges. However, the big problem here is the dual-nature of KCBS. They have 1/3 of their membership cooking at contests. The other 2/3 of the members judge in the contests. We as judges are told from the initial class not to mix with the cooks on contest day. The culture is geared for the judges not to mix with cooks. This is where KCBS needs to concentrate its efforts. Common sense needs to reign supreme. As a cook, I don't want judges coming around before the turn in times since I am busy! We need to come together and tear down this wall between cooks and judges.

I also agree the judges are not getting as many assignments as in years past. The simple answer here is based solely on numbers. It's hard to get into many contests because of the large numbers of trained people. My wife and I have noticed we are not used as much because of the ever growing numbers of trained judges. KCBS needs to train lots of judges to keep growing. I've also heard promoters don't like using new judges, thinking they don't do as good a job as older judges. I think judge quality is more a function of motivation rather than experience. We all had to start somewhere. New judges need a chance to participate!

By the way, cooks don't always make the best judges. My wife and I work in the judging tent as officials and have had several of our friends judge product. Some cooks score product across the board real low because "theirs is better". Cooks are just people. There are good judges and not-so-good ones. I think KCBS needs to come up with a judges reward program. This would be similar to a team of the year for cooks. Incentives for judges would help recruit and retain judges. Going into judging just to taste the best product in the world is getting more difficult to sell with gas and contest prices going up.

The bottom line is we all compete and judge in BBQ contests because it is fun. We need to be reminded of that from time to time.
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Unread 01-29-2012, 07:46 AM   #3
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I agree, you cooks are mean judges! I sat at a table and listened to a cook beat down the offerings as less than their own standards. I think brand new judges are just the opposite, way too 9 happy. But that's life.

People that sign up to learn to judge do it because it appeals to them somehow.
Whether it's their love of BBQ or the lure of competition or just want to meet new folks while doing something fun (me).

There is a move towards getting judges to meet and interact with teams (Per Dave and others). That in itself will create more cohesiveness for all. Encouragement from CBJ training instructors (within rules) to spend time with cooks will better serve all.
Getting assignments is not hard, I picked my contests a few weeks ago and have been placed in all I desired. The difference is as a judge you need to get it done early as opposed to the cooks practice of signing up for a contest at a last minute decision type mentality.

I think it's time for a rule change to mandate new judges cook with a team between their 5th and 6th contest. If you know that's a requirement before you sign up to take a CBJ training class it can't be a surprise or objection.
I can think of no better way to indoctrinate a new judge to the lifestyle.
The more judges and cooks meld together the better we'll be as a group...
Ed
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Unread 01-29-2012, 08:32 AM   #4
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So how does cooking with a team make a person a better judge?
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Unread 01-29-2012, 08:35 AM   #5
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I agree that cooks are people too, and we all know a couple of jerks that attend contests. However, like you said, melding cooks and judges can only make things better. How do we do that?
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Unread 01-29-2012, 08:46 AM   #6
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a better understanding of every asspectthat it takes too get that box to the judging table starting friday through saturday weve had 4 differnt contests with judge[s] cooking with us,each one said after awards,wow......different look when judging from that day forward dennis
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Unread 01-29-2012, 10:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EatonHoggBBQ View Post
So how does cooking with a team make a person a better judge?

Much the same way as you going to your favorite reastaurant for dinner.
If you just show up and eat you have no idea what it took to prepare your meal. However, if you were to show up at 4 am and spent the morning and some of the afternoon helping prepare the food for cooking, help out in the whole process, including service prep you should have a better understanding of what it took to make your one meal. It can only help illustrate why you enjoy going to that place for a meal.

Anything that can be done to make the interaction of cooks and judges, and also improve the quality of competitions can only make KCBS a better place.
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Unread 01-29-2012, 11:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ModelMaker View Post
Much the same way as you going to your favorite reastaurant for dinner.
If you just show up and eat you have no idea what it took to prepare your meal. However, if you were to show up at 4 am and spent the morning and some of the afternoon helping prepare the food for cooking, help out in the whole process, including service prep you should have a better understanding of what it took to make your one meal. It can only help illustrate why you enjoy going to that place for a meal.

Anything that can be done to make the interaction of cooks and judges, and also improve the quality of competitions can only make KCBS a better place.
Ed
I could not agree more. My wife teaches culinary arts and I respected her job until I went and spent a day with her and the students and how much work she spends with each of them honing their skills. She is very dedicated to her job and her students. The same goes for anyone really in the service industry. I would be happy to take a judge or 2 to a competition and let them see the other side or waking up at 2 to stoke the fire or spend a great amount of time trimming chicken thighs. I think this is a great idea the challenge is having that judge get a great experience, we all know not all personalities will not match up from team to team.

"KCBS...tear down that wall"
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Unread 01-29-2012, 01:07 PM   #9
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Also to understand that the box infront of them was a labor of love for someone who cared enough to spend several hundred if not thousands of dollars, and the previous two days to put it together. It may be bad Q, but it shouldn't be taken lightly.
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Unread 01-29-2012, 03:18 PM   #10
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This issue goes round and round here. Every few months there's another post about why judges should be forced to cook w/ teams. That sentiment is usually accompanied by an explanation that it will help the judge learn what goes into competing and gain a better appreciation for the effort put in.

Unfortunately, no sanctioning body that I'm aware of has an 'effort' category. It should not matter to a judge in the least how much effort a team puts in. If they cook a 9X9 brisket flat in 4 hours before turn in or slow smoke a full packer for 15 hours shouldn't matter in the least. You are judging the quality of the food, not the effort put in.

If the motivation is to force interaction between teams and judges to encourage a sense of unity and camaraderie, why not have teams be required to act at as table captains or judges once for every three times they compete?

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Unread 01-29-2012, 03:31 PM   #11
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I remember my first time cooking with a team. We stayed up all night... got little sleep and remember quite clearly how tired we were! I think it makes a big difference. When judges cook with a team, they know how hard it is to put quality product in the box. I remember sitting at the cook site after it had rained all night, and was cold. Our fire did not go out and we were all standing around drinking cheap wine thinking, if we can survive this night, the contest is all down hill. Our middle of the pack finish was a victory of will. Frankly I did not care we did not walk. I survived. Since that day, I've walked at some and even won a contest outright. But nothing can beat that feeling of finishing something difficult. I know my appearance scores I gave after my first cook were a big higher than before. I just knew how difficult it was to put the product in the box. I started giving the benefit of the doubt to the cooks. I think that's what happens when judges cook.
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Unread 01-29-2012, 03:36 PM   #12
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The point isn't "effort". I know a good few teams who have a weekly drinking getogether and put some BBQ out at the end of it.
It's more about an understanding of the process involved. Your right that I don't care how much you spent on fuel,entry fee,meat etc. But if I want to be the best judge possible I need to know it exits and why.
I want to end the feeling some teams have of judges walking in Sat morning filling up a cooler and walking out Sat. afternoon. If more interaction between them helps, why not.
You shouldn't have to require a head cook to judge, any that don't are missing out on a chance to improve what they are after. You have no idea what goes on in the scoring tent if your not there.
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Unread 01-29-2012, 04:00 PM   #13
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Since Myron Mixon shows up and lights his fire at 4am should his bbq not be scored as high because he got a good night sleep and didn't stay up all night?

There are just as many non cooking judges that know bbq than their are cooks that know bbq. Just because you pay your money and show up doesn't mean you can cook or know what good bbq is.

Good bbq always wins!
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Unread 01-29-2012, 05:06 PM   #14
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I can see it now.............. I shoulda won because he got a table with judges that also cook and I didn't!!! I know I would welcome a judge to cook with me and my team.................. even the dreaded judge 6., but I wouldn't want that experience to give the scores they give more weight. The scores are weighted enough without another variable thrown in.
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Unread 01-29-2012, 05:22 PM   #15
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As a judge, it does not matter on bit to me how much time, money or effort a team put into their box. The meat presented to my eyes, mouth, etc. is all that counts.

Having spent 2 years on a BBQ adventure as part of an award winning team, I judged yesterday at Lake Havasu. I was promptly chastised for low chicken scores as compared to my tablemates. The rest of the day and during most of the drive home, I wondered if I did the right thing with my scores and were my standards too high now based on my competition experience (which I may add includes a 1st and 3rd in chicken cooking solo).
When I finally heard the chicken results and the score (almost perfect) for SYD, I felt a lot better about the low scores I gave to 5 of the 6 samples I had tasted that day.

So, getting back on topic, I think the scores would be much lower if more cooks took the time to judge. If you do score low, be prepared to go back to judge school. That was the warning given to me after chicken. Yes, I compromised my scores on the other meats.

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