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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 02-28-2012, 12:07 PM   #1
Hozman
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Question Comp vs. Backyard

For the guys who went from backyard to competing did you find that you had to change a lot of the ways you were cooking/seasoning from backyard to comps?

This is my 1st year doing comps. Everyone says I have good Q and have catered some with good feed back. Its this feed back that has pushed me into the world of competitions.

My fear is that what general folks like and how I do backyard cooking is going to bomb in comps.

Just curious what others experienced.
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Unread 02-28-2012, 12:19 PM   #2
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I found that I had to go sweeter on sauces, etc than I normally would doing backyard. BUT, that just may be for my area.
Most of my backyard friends/family like "fall off the bone" ribs, which you do not want in comp. I had to adjust my cooking style to get to the correct doneness that the judges are looking for.
I'm still learning, so I'm sure more seasoned competitors will give you better feedback.
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Unread 02-28-2012, 12:22 PM   #3
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Hey,
I've done a few comps, and Pubah Phil was the first one who told be that you need to go big with your flavors for the comp world. Remember, the judge will give you one or two bites and you need to WOW them with those very few bites.
I also think taking the judges class at least gives you a small idea of how it works. But does little to explain flavors.

Either way, just have fun with it.
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Unread 02-28-2012, 12:42 PM   #4
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Serious learning curve...you're on the right path by lurking around here, which will help with the basics.
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Unread 02-28-2012, 01:41 PM   #5
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I have done two of each, but in both the judges were all CBJ's, so my backyard comp experience was more beneficial than some would be as far as a learning experience. I was able to continue doing pretty much the same thing when I switched.

I would say try to find out if the judges are certified. If they are, you can base your end goal on something.
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Unread 02-28-2012, 01:45 PM   #6
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I think you'll be fine, if you really mean what you said, when you said:

My fear is that what general folks like and how I do backyard cooking is going to bomb in comps.


Because... You understand that to appeal to "general folks" you have to hit that mid point where you're not too this or too that. That's all. Also know that the different sanctioning bodies define what that perfect piece of meat is. Make sure you hit that too, rather than what anyone else thinks. For example, around here anyway, 80% of the populous that's not involved with competition barbecue wants ribs falling off the bone. If you cook them this way in a competition, even though different sanctioning bodies define ribs differently, falling off the bone will get you crushed on scores in all of them.

Otherwise, you'll do fine!
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Unread 02-28-2012, 01:47 PM   #7
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> Remember, the judge will give you one or two bites and you need to WOW them
> with those very few bites.

^^^ Yes, in KCBS this is true. In other sanctioning bodies, not necessarily the case. All competitions are NOT the same.
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Unread 02-28-2012, 02:45 PM   #8
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Keeping things in balance is pretty important: heat/sweet/salt, etc.

What comps are you doing? We may be able to let you hang out at a few with us, then you can go around picking the brains of the guys who will be kicking our butts!
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Unread 02-28-2012, 09:59 PM   #9
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An example from experience; we turned in ribs at a competition that were so salty we could barely eat them (they were packed in a brine and we didn't realize it until it was too late to change our rub). We came in 6th out of 32 teams!
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Unread 02-29-2012, 07:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OutlawSwine View Post
I found that I had to go sweeter on sauces, etc than I normally would doing backyard. BUT, that just may be for my area.
Most of my backyard friends/family like "fall off the bone" ribs, which you do not want in comp. I had to adjust my cooking style to get to the correct doneness that the judges are looking for.
I'm still learning, so I'm sure more seasoned competitors will give you better feedback.
For me the fall off the bone thing was hard to get used too. The friends and family love it pretty much falling off the bone (not mush, just SUPER tender). My first time out I got killed because of that.

Not sure I agree with the judges. How can all these friends and family be so wrong? It is like Chili Cook offs, I would not serve my winning competition chili to friends, it is just not good compared to my home recipe.
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Unread 02-29-2012, 07:31 AM   #11
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> I had to adjust my cooking style to get to the correct doneness that the judges are looking for.

> Not sure I agree with the judges.

FYI: This isn't a "judges" thing. The sanctioning bodies define what is the perfect tenderness of the rib. Also, FYI, many define it DIFFERENT from one another.

The "judges" judge the rib as to the definition of the sanctioning body. KCBS says "bite through"; MBN says "pull cleanly from the bone with only slight resistance". Very different from one another.

Tenderness is defined and is therefore the least subjective. Doesnt matter what I, as a judge, prefer to eat.
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Unread 02-29-2012, 07:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lake Dogs View Post
> I had to adjust my cooking style to get to the correct doneness that the judges are looking for.

> Not sure I agree with the judges.

FYI: This isn't a "judges" thing. The sanctioning bodies define what is the perfect tenderness of the rib. Also, FYI, many define it DIFFERENT from one another.

The "judges" judge the rib as to the definition of the sanctioning body. KCBS says "bite through"; MBN says "pull cleanly from the bone with only slight resistance". Very different from one another.

Tenderness is defined and is therefore the least subjective. Doesnt matter what I, as a judge, prefer to eat.

Actually a VERY good point...
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Unread 02-29-2012, 08:31 AM   #13
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I tend to agree with most of what has been posted. However, from my personal experience, my friends, neighbors, family, etc. tend to give only positive feedback, so I thought my food would be competition-ready. My first comp I finished middle of the pack in both ribs and pork. I bombed in chicken and DAL in brisket.

I found that the biggest and most difficult difference I had to make was managing tenderness. Mushy pork, flavorless tough brisket, and fall-off-the-bone ribs won't win any comps. Flavor also had to be stepped up... but wasn't completely different, just more complex than what I was cooking at home.

Now, entering my third year and having just finished my 25th competition, I can now say that my cooking skills have only improved since I starting competing. I'll also be the first to admit that my food (although was good before) it was nowhere near where it is today. I have substantially improved my ability to control tenderness, as well as how to make food more appealing to the eyes (presentation). My flavor profile for the backyard is now closer to what I turn in for comps, more than what it used to be before competing -- but I do tone it down a bit when cooking at home.

If you want to find out what competition BBQ tastes like, see if you can find a local team willing to allow you to be their dishwasher/helper for one competition. I'm sure they will let you taste their food after turn-ins. That will give you the best feel for the difference between backyard and competition BBQ.

My feedback is dive right in, and don't look back. You will love it! Good luck!
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Unread 02-29-2012, 08:48 AM   #14
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[QUOTE=Hozman;1962764]For the guys who went from backyard to competing did you find that you had to change a lot of the ways you were cooking/seasoning from backyard to comps?

Yes, Big difference for me. I spend about 400% more on the meat and seasonings I cook in a comp as opposed to what i serve a guest in my backyard.
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Unread 02-29-2012, 09:14 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capn Kev View Post
I tend to agree with most of what has been posted. However, from my personal experience, my friends, neighbors, family, etc. tend to give only positive feedback, so I thought my food would be competition-ready. My first comp I finished middle of the pack in both ribs and pork. I bombed in chicken and DAL in brisket.

I found that the biggest and most difficult difference I had to make was managing tenderness. Mushy pork, flavorless tough brisket, and fall-off-the-bone ribs won't win any comps. Flavor also had to be stepped up... but wasn't completely different, just more complex than what I was cooking at home.

Now, entering my third year and having just finished my 25th competition, I can now say that my cooking skills have only improved since I starting competing. I'll also be the first to admit that my food (although was good before) it was nowhere near where it is today. I have substantially improved my ability to control tenderness, as well as how to make food more appealing to the eyes (presentation). My flavor profile for the backyard is now closer to what I turn in for comps, more than what it used to be before competing -- but I do tone it down a bit when cooking at home.

If you want to find out what competition BBQ tastes like, see if you can find a local team willing to allow you to be their dishwasher/helper for one competition. I'm sure they will let you taste their food after turn-ins. That will give you the best feel for the difference between backyard and competition BBQ.

My feedback is dive right in, and don't look back. You will love it! Good luck!
Kevin, I would say the exact same thing on mine. However, it seems that many folks have a tough time coming to terms with this. They seem hell-bent on cooking how they like it. They dont realize that you have 5 or 6 average people (who are usually in their 30's - 70's; mid-point probably being 55 yrs old) who have had no alcohol sitting at a table judging against a standard set by the sanctioning body.

I've written LOTS about the true difference between that middle-of-the-pack BBQ and the top-10-percent BBQ is in one thing: tenderness. Hit the tenderness, as defined, consistently and you'll consistently be in that top 25% if not higher. Then, dont offend, meaning dont do any of the "terrible too's"; being too salty; too mushy; too sweet; too bland; too spicy; too hot; too ... because you'll offend some of your judges and that spells death.

I did a few additional things than apparently most do before I entered a competition, and that was compete against myself with friends judging. We even had a sauce judging party with 12 judges, meat cooked 2 different ways, and 16 base sauces. This way I found out which (in this case I was testing injections with rubs as it pertains to sauces) which truly tasted best. Ends up we had 11 of the 12 choose one particular combination as their favorite and that 1 judge chose it as their 2nd choice. That's when I figured I had a competitive combination....

Note aside: the sauce we chose wasnt even one of the 16 base sauces but a combination of 3 of them, and wasn't one we'd have come up with had we not gone this route.

Anyway, that's how we (as a team) did it.

As a judge I surely see the need for something like this (above) MANY times during every competition. For example, in this last one I judged last weekend, one of the better pulled pork entries came with the sauce on the side. It was a mustard sauce, and frankly the sauce by itself was one of if not the best mustard sauce I'd ever tasted. Problem: the flavors in this sauce conflicted with the flavors in the meat (either his injection, rub, or both). This day this really good entry was at best middle-of-the-pack. Great sauce + great meat do not necessarily = great product. Ends up we had an entry on that table that needed a little extra flavor and after judging we found that it went GREAT with this other guy's mustard sauce...
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