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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 03-12-2012, 02:12 PM   #1
amv81
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Default First competition tips needed

I am thinking about doing my first competition in June at the Brickstreet BBQ in my hometown of Marietta Ohio. I have two Weber 22.5" kettles that I use as smokers and that is it. My first question is, have you seen any kettles in a competition? Its kind of embarrassing since everyone else seems to have trailer pits but I would really like to try it. And if you do suggest I try it, what tips would you give a newbie for their first competition ever.. timing.. washtubs.. anything? Thanks in advance.
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Unread 03-12-2012, 02:31 PM   #2
indianagriller
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Go and cook it, i have seen teams win with a couple kettles and a UDS or WSM
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Unread 03-12-2012, 02:34 PM   #3
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I would highly recommend a practice run to get your timing down, and don't be afraid of having your meat done early, better done early than not done @ turn in time.

Make a checklist, the second comp I did, I forgot my sink and hoses.
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Unread 03-12-2012, 02:36 PM   #4
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I've seen webers at a number of the KCBS style competitions. More often they're for chicken, but you can smoke other meats on them. IMHO you're going to be hurting for space. Absolutle minimum will be 1 brisket, 1 butt, 2 racks of ribs, and 8+- pieces of chicken, and that's if everything cooks and looks perfect. I usually cook 2 briskets, 3 butts, 3 or 4 racks of ribs, and 12 to 16 pieces of chicken.
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Unread 03-12-2012, 02:41 PM   #5
amv81
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Can i enter the comp and do just ribs, brisket, and pork... no chicken?
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Unread 03-12-2012, 03:39 PM   #6
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Before your first comp. do a complete trial run (or two, or three...) - making note of your times and temps along the way. You'll want to build that information into your timeline for turn-ins. When we did ours we even kept it to KCBS turn in times (noon to 1:30) to really get a feel for what we would be doing and when. During our first test cook we realized we would have missed the chicken turn in because of space issues - so that's when we got our 2nd one.

Also make note of everything you touch to do that cook to build your comp. checklist. We've now split ours up into two sep. lists - one for perishables and one for non-perishables (helps us pack stuff up ahead of time when we can).

As far as using WSM's - we use them with BBQ Guru's on ours. We cook chicken and ribs on them now - but could probably fit the pork or brisket on the chicken cooker if needed (though not ideal), provided they were done early enough to take off and sit and get happy in the cambro. We know we have space issues so we leave the pork and brisket to the MAK. You'll be able to make your decision on space once you do a test cook.

And yes - you can cook a contest doing 3, 2 or even only 1 category - just be aware that it's still the same entrance fee and you won't be in the running for RGC or GC overall points by skipping categories.

Good luck - maybe we'll run into you at one of the Ohio contests!
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Unread 03-12-2012, 04:03 PM   #7
Todd Ras
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I remember asking the same questions a few years ago. Here are some tips fellow Brethern gave us that really helped:

1) Go to an event before you compete. Find a local team willing to have you come out on Friday and see the set up and layout. This helped us come up with a game plan before our first contest.

2) Practice run! I'm can't tell you how much this helped. We did a 2 day full practice and even did turn in boxes. This helps you determine when the food goes on and how much time between catagories. Also, this will help understand how much water, ice, soap and cleaning schedules.

3) Keep a sheet of times and check lists of things to bring. I know this sounds like a lto of work, but it helps you not forget anything and miss steps.

4) Drink and have agood time, but not toooo good of a time. I don't think I slept the first contest ad aboiut 12:00 on Saturday you really need the sleep. Hungover and out in the sun making turn in boxes isn't the way you want to go on your first one.

5) Be prepaired to be hooked. It seems like you can't just do one and stop. It's like a bug that makes you want to do a lot more!

6) Dont be scared of looking stupid. Most people are friendly and don't care what you're smoking on or what you have in your site.

7) Don't hesitate to ask questions just be nice while doing it.

Look at sample boxes and read this board as much as you can. The knowledge on this board is amazing.

Lastly, just have fun and you get out of it what you put in! If you want to just have fun, then have as much as you can. If you want to compete and really learn, read this board as there are much wiser men than me. Look at sample turn in boxes and methods and watch youtube vidoes of judges comments as sometimes you can see tips of what they look for (but who the hell really knows).

Good luck
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Unread 03-12-2012, 04:39 PM   #8
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My dad and I did comps last year for the 1st time. I agree it can be intimidating when you pull in and most teams have trailers and all the toys. We cooked with 2 wsms. I agree with all the others, practice runs are the only way to go. We also had good friends that had been competing for a few years and were/are great mentors to us. I think every comp I still had to go to them and ask questions. I think the biggest thing to do is...Have Fun. You might/will make mistakes...learn from them and move on.
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Unread 03-12-2012, 05:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amv81 View Post
I am thinking about doing my first competition in June at the Brickstreet BBQ in my hometown of Marietta Ohio. I have two Weber 22.5" kettles that I use as smokers and that is it. My first question is, have you seen any kettles in a competition? Its kind of embarrassing since everyone else seems to have trailer pits but I would really like to try it. And if you do suggest I try it, what tips would you give a newbie for their first competition ever.. timing.. washtubs.. anything? Thanks in advance.
Adam
You might want to look at one or 2 of these http://www.smoke-ez.com/index.php or look at a WSM or 2.

The other advice given here is good. If you know someone who will be competing in your area, ask if you can be a pit b--ch for them, you will learn lots, well, with some folks anyway

I think quite a few folks do chicken with kettles, but it's gonna be tricky to do brisket and butts on them

Quote:
Originally Posted by amv81 View Post
Can i enter the comp and do just ribs, brisket, and pork... no chicken?
some comps allow that, some don't
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Unread 03-12-2012, 05:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amv81 View Post
Can i enter the comp and do just ribs, brisket, and pork... no chicken?
Most comps will allow you to pick and choose categories but chicken is such a short cook why not just do it? You're there already :) If you're worried about space time your big meats so that they are off of the cooker and resting in a cooler or Cambro well before you need to use a Kettle for ribs or chicken. The rest does the big meats good anyway.

As far as stuff there are a couple of good checklists around here or on the Smokin' Guns web site. At a minimum you'll want a couple of tables, an EZ-up type canopy or two, three wash tubs (dish washing tubs are OK, bus tubs from Sam's are better), a way to heat water, coolers, knives, rubs, sauces, etc.

Besides a full practice run at home the best advice I can give is to take advantage when the rep asks new teams to raise their hands at the cooks meeting and then asks for experienced teams to act as mentors. Don't be a pest, and don't try to steal secrets (called shigging), but ask questions and learn. It's a great opportunity.
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Unread 03-12-2012, 05:31 PM   #11
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We cooked our first comp on a performer and a kettle and a barrel smoker. We graduated to a crappy offset that will never be brought to a comp again, and the same 2 kettles. Our kettles have grown, we got an egg. They're indispensable tools.

As far as your first comp goes, partner up, find a friend who likes to bbq and drink. Go there, cook your heart out, wander around and talk to every and anyone and learn.

Theres no wrong or right way to do a comp. I've seen teams cook on a xl bge and one kettle, thought their food was crap, throw it all out, only to win GC.

Do it once, and you'll be hooked, 4 years later and my team can't wait for the season to start every year. Friends and family will beg to come over for practice cooks. Experience and consistency will be your best friend.
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Unread 03-12-2012, 05:47 PM   #12
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1, Have fun
2. Meet some folks
3. Stick directly to your cooking timeline
4. Check out bbqcritic.com for presentation examples
5. Learn something each and every comp.
6. Have low expectations - like getting all your meat cooked and turned in on time and being happy you didn't come in last place.
7. Stop by my site and have a beer with me June 8th - I'll be there.
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Unread 03-12-2012, 06:31 PM   #13
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If you can, find a third cooker. I was at a competition where there was a guy next to us trying to go with two kettles, it was madness. Three kettles, or even better, two kettles and a UDS will make your entire event a lot more enjoyable.

Other than that, you have plenty of great advice above. Remember that most competitions will ask that you have certain safety and health items that you must have. I have seen a couple of teams not able to cook due to that.
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Unread 03-12-2012, 07:09 PM   #14
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If this is your first contest concentrate on having fun. Alot will go wrong. You stress out about it you will sour the experience. Great advice above...

Do your best...

I hope it is enough to place, honestly it probably won't be...I'm not being negative or hurtful. First time out getting everything in on time is a feat in and of itself. If you turn it in on time and pretty, kudos to you. You just did better than my first contest.

Shoot for not being DAL (Dead A$$ Last)

Talk to your fellow competitiors and soak up what they say like a sponge...and then adapt it to your personality and methods.

Let us know how it goes...
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Unread 03-13-2012, 03:42 PM   #15
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I competed in my first comp. late last year. It was a lot of fun but a lot of work first time out. All great advice here. I would also say try to find a 3rd cooker, between now and June hopefully you can find one or build a UDS and get a couple practice cooks. Make sure you:

1. Pack way ahead of time, perhaps the weekend before. (At least have your stuff in boxes ready to go.)
2. Get there early if you can, so no rush to setup and get going.
3. Take a friend or family member to help, even if just to do little things.
4. Talk to people and make friends, quite easy to do, but if you are pressed for time it can be hard.
4. Try not to get overwhelmed, so many things going around you, while you are trying to think and prep, talking to people etc.. I know why people have enclosed trailers now.

Don't be worried about your setup, I took 2 kegs and a UDS to a comp. with primarily stick burners here in TX. Felt like I stood out like a sore thumb, but people were friendly and came by to check them out. I took the Friday off so I could finish packing but everything took twice as long to do and a borrowed cooler had a leak. I got stuck in rush hour traffic too and actually forgot to bring a da** chair to sit. Luckily for me my brother didn't live too far away and helped me out with chairs and breakfast too.
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