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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 08-22-2005, 11:53 PM   #1
BBQchef33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff_in_kc
Good points. I will get extremely bored on Friday afternoon once all is set up if I'm not doing something so I'll plan to cook anyway. Just ribs and chicken and some fatties. My "down time" will probably come from the time I get recreational meat on until around 6pm. Then I'm quite farkin sure I'll be running on adrenaline. We'll also sit around and have a few beers and take in the sights and sounds and visit with other cooks until time to fire up and get the butts and briskets in.
guys, i did not read the whole thread, just stopped when i got to that quoted above.

jeff, answer these questions.

what time are you goin to rub the brisket, what time are you putting the chiken in a brine or marinade?, what time will u put the ribs in the cooker, how much rest time do want for individual meats in the cooler, if your brining and rubbing, what tim edoes it go in the brine, out of the brine, and into the rub... Do you know the answer to these within an hour? thats what you need to be thinkin about, not how to feed the family and friends. Figure these things out, lay out a timeline for each catagory and watch 25 hours from 12PM friday to 1PM satureday just disappear. You ARE NOT going to have alot of free time, and if you do, your not doing something, or doing something wrong.

I always bring extra meat for family, i rarely find time to cook it and wind up bringing it back home. The experienced teams, with the best equipment and fully stocked kitchen that they just drive up, plug in water and electric and they are done.. they have down time. You will spend a few hours setting up.

My first recommendation here is to skip the ribs, make some chicken(at 275-300) and burgers and bew done with the guests. You are gonna need every minute you have.
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Unread 08-23-2005, 07:43 AM   #2
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Phil -

- Arriving at 8am and get meat checked.
- Setting up a table and pulling out conveniently packed brisket slather and rub and rubbing them no later than 9am. Wrap and put back on ice.
- Then immediately rub butts and cooler them also.
- 9:30 am: Continue to set up camp to be done before noon.
- 8:30 pm: Fire up cookers
- 9:00 pm: Get brisket on cooker
- 10:00 pm: Get butts on cooker and brine chicken
- 7:30 am: Get ribs in cooker and get chicken out of brine and rub... back in cooler.
- 8:30 am: Chicken in cooker? (not sure yet as I haven't done thighs yet. Will get a better idea this weekend)
- 9:30 am: Ribs to foil and back to cooker

Crap... No time to continue with this right now. Got a doctor appointment in 20 minutes. Anyway, I'm willing to hold off on the Brethren banner until next year if folks would rather. I don't want anyone to think I'm going to embarrass the group with my performance.
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Unread 08-23-2005, 09:13 AM   #3
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That's a great schedule, but don't be surprised with a few delays. First the meat inspector. You'll be extrememly lucky if they inspect the meat that early. Two, watch out for the health department inspector. In CT, the health department was poking around and looking for all sorts of "violations". If memory serves, you need to have your site ready before you can begin to rub, brine, etc. By that I mean, you need your three sinks, your fire extingusher etc, up and available for inspection before you play with your meat.

Make sure you give yourself some windows. What are you gonna do if your brisket gets stuck? Or the ribs just aren't cooking the way you want? Always allow extra time for the prep work. How long does it take to wash the brine off and dry the chicken? At home - 15 minutes - at comp, using a bucket and hose maybe 30?

You will be busy most of the time. Yes there will be down time on Friday night, usually after the briskets and buts are on the fire. Not too much before. You will have time to have dinner and check out the other sites, but if you're planning to party, you're at the wrong event. Even with the Poohbah - dinner usually gets cooked only after his wife Sharon tells him that she and the kids are hungry. Focus on the competetion cook, not on the party, not your guests, not the spectators and you'll do fine.
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Unread 08-23-2005, 09:27 AM   #4
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Fark! Now the doctor put me on stress meds for crissakes!!! Oh well, beats having a brain tumor.

I think I've mentioned numerous times before that I'm not planning to party. I'm bringing my five gallon keg of homebrew with me. I figure I'll sip on a beer or two while I'm working Friday afternoon and have one with dinner. Then, after the meat is on, I figure to have a couple while relaxing. I expect most of it will still be in the keg when turn in time comes. For some reason, I get the feeling the the general consensus here is that I'm doing this to party. Not true in the slightest. So, I hope that any advice anyone has to offer me (which I greatly appreciate) will focus on contest stuff and not reminding me not to party. I already said I'm going to this farker to win it, not waste my time!
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Unread 08-23-2005, 10:44 AM   #5
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You will be done setting up... maybe.. then you will say to yourself.. self... what do I do now? You have 4 catagories of meat to cook with a bullseye for the serving time.. that is not an easy task. It takes practice.

In a notebook create your timeline working backwards for each catagory.

Something like this...

Pork shoulder turn-in is at 1.
start pulling at 1230... after 3 hours cooler time, so........
in cooler at 9:30
8lb butt 1:30 lb.. 12 hours - in cooker at 930PM
need 3 hours dry rub - rub butt at 6:30 after 4 hours in marinade
butt must be in marinade by 2:30.

Butt:
marinade 2:30
Rub 6:30PM
cooker 9:30PM
cooler by 9:30AM
*************************
chicken:
chicken turn-in is at 12
start prep at 1130.
Done at 11:15am after 4 hours in cooker
goes in cooker at 7:15 after dry rub for 2 hours
rub at 5:15 after 8 hours in brine
Brine chicken at 9PM

Chicken:
Brine 9 PM
rub 5:15am
cooker 7:15am
hold and rest by 11:15am.


************************************************** **

This may seem simplistic, but believe me, you WILL be busy doing things. You will also get to points where you ask what you SHOULD be doing, instead of just doing. Refer to this so you know what MUST be done and When. My team is always busy.. but sometimes we are not doing what we should be doing. When rob said "what needs to be done?" , the answer is LOOK at the BOOK. Just to make sure you are not in a window where something should be brined, or rubbed and we missed it. Pork butt in at 9:30..its 8:45, is the fire started? chicken in Brines at 9PM? itss 8:45, is the brine prepared and vessels ready? In the past, we got distracted doing just "stuff" and we miss doing what we are suppose to be doing. You need that timeline to refer to.

On a side note.. everyone is drilling into your head to concentrate on the event, not the party. Dont misinterpert that.. it is RULE #1. it will be repeated again and again..As soon as you say, i bought beer, or I am cooking for friends, you just added a distraction and we will jump on it. For EVRY competition I have done. I reward myself at 1:35 with an ice cold one and a well earned rest.

At 10:30 this past sunday, Rob saw me changing my shirt to a Brethren Tee shirt and putting on the apron. i was not wearing either up until then. it was to hot. He questined that, said your putting that on now?

I looked at the apron and the shirt.. and all i can think of is...

"Battle Armor".

i found after a few events, at around 10:30, no matter how tired and whipped i am.. I enter a zone. When climbing up onto the trailer I felt like I was going into the ring. In the past that feeling was nervousness, and it showed in the frenzy during those 3 hours. That nervousness is giving way to confidence now. We arent perfectly synced up yet, but we are gettin much beter as a team. Gettin into that ring isnt nearly as nerve racking as it was last year. Although we didnt do as well with the judges this time, the peformance as a team jumped to a diferent level. That is more valuable than the trophy. The difference this time:

FOCUS. NO DISTRACTIONS. DOCUMENTED TIMELINES AND A SOLID PLAN. PERIOD. THAT WAS THE KEY.

All that being said... dont take it negativly when we guys say focus on the event. It IS why YOU are there.. if you mention here you are feeding friends, bringing a keg, etc.. I/We interpert that as distraction. They are not there to win, they are there to hangout and have fun. YOU are there to win. If this was NOT the American Royal, the responses would be, go have fun and get the feel. But its IS the American royal, So we're gonna whip you into shape differently than if it was the local backyard cooking contest.
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Unread 08-23-2005, 11:45 AM   #6
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Southern Brethren's checklist/timeline at Dillard was a four foot long laminated timeline from Thursday night setup to the 1:30 Saturday turnin - Printed in BOLD and checked frequently.

I walk around all Saturday morning (after meat is on/done/resting)saying 11:30 right? Noon for ribs, right? :D

Since Tim and I have been working at this for about a year we can even have a shrimp boil and a few beers on Friday evening. But we still get to bed and grab some sleep before the flag goes up. Alarm clocks, preloaded charcoal basket, etc. are at the ready for our scheduled start time - and we even cover the stuff with plastic to keep the dew off! :D

Jeff, what Phil said is solid - we've been there and have the bruises to show for it. Each one of us goes thru the stress of planning, reviewing, editing checklists, etc. Your stress "personality" will come to the fore - Tim stresses a lot differently than me - for example, I'll be checking the cooker and yakking (big surprise, huh!) with a video guy from NBBQA News - Tim walks over and "lurks" (which is tough to do since he's shorter than I am) trying to remind me about one of our "timeline" targets. :D

We are completely different but compliment each other as a team. I've got some food service experience in my background so I follow the "never let them see you sweat" school of competition. Even if something is truly and utterly screwed I brush it off and try to find somehing "ok" about it (overdone/underdone, etc) - Tim on the other hand get's pissed ("this taste like ..." :D) and we'll have a discussion about it (he rants and I tell him how good it really is!) - we then prep the box turn it in (knowing it's NOT going to please the judges) and go to the next box.

We also go into a funk after the last turn-in and with our record we stay in that funk until after awards and a couple of brews. Score sheets are read like an obituary. And this depression hangs with us for a day or two - every cookoff!

At Dillard we placed 8th in chicken (out of 58 teams) and my expression when getting the ribbon was right up there with when my doc tells me my lab results! The host said to me as I as walking up "hey, congratulations, this is a big deal." I said, quietly, "Yes sir, but a check would have been a lot nicer!" Ungracious, yep! But damn, it costs a lot of money to only get one farking ribbon! And you know, I apologized to him, later. It was a great cook off but we busted the bank to get there and walked away with nothing but bills. On the other hand - other competitors came up to us and congratulated us and each one of them knew exactly why were down in the dumps.

Are we over it? You bet. We're already planning for Key Largo in November and have started the timeline - gotta pick up the briskets towards the end of September for them to age!! :D I'm going to start doing some serious work on our ribs (alway, always, always - overdone. Not necesarily fall off the bone but overdone every farkin' time!)

For the regulars on the circuit this stess is expected. We take this crap seriously - please don't misunderstand--we have fun but our definition of fun is walking the farking stage! Anything that distracts from the goal of gettng there is a distraction. We don't do ancillary events (anything butt, grits, trout, sausage, etc.) because we're not walking in the BIG FOUR and that's what pays the bills.

We definately visit the other sites - make new friends and hook up with other teams we've gotten to know - we skank food and site setup ideas, etc. etc. That's where we get our "fun" - it is like a big fraternity and it's amazing what you learn from the "brothers" around you. But - other than a "how you doing this morning" competition day is pretty focused - if the guys around me are sitting in the chair catching their breath we may kibutz a bit - but if they are at the pit or over at a table "messing with something I just wave and keep on walking.

I apologize for the length of this post - it's not intended as a rant. We have never intended (well, most of us!) to downplay or denigrate your excitement, enthusiasm, or palnning - it's just that a lot of us have been there and really want you to do well. Mentoring is a large part of competition - we ALL got help at one time or another from other competitors and from this group.

We don't want you to have to re-invent the wheel - we know our "advice" and "suggestion" sometimes sting - but man, I've going home from these things empty handed for almost a year. It SUCKS! :D I surely wish someone would give me the nugget that becomes the "silver bullet" and helps us place.

Heck, we get stung being counseled by the teams around us. They encourage us even when we are looking at sucking up $1000 weekend and tell us "only one year! Man, don't quit now...we quit competing for 2 years and cooked with.... until we felt ready to try it again!" Reality bites. You're going to the Big Show as far as BBQ cookoffs run - we want you just as prepared as we can get you. Not because you'll "embarass" us - heck you're paying for the abuse you'll take at the Royal - but because we really true care about you and your effort!

Well, that's enough ranting - I swore I wasn't going to post in these threads again since all I seem to do is piss you off.

Well, just be pissed! :D You're in for an adventure (even though you didn't appreciate the title on the other thread!) and we're trying to share the experience with you.

Nobody ever said mentoring via internet was easy!
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Unread 08-23-2005, 12:20 PM   #7
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What David says--almost
Quote:
Southern Brethren's checklist/timeline at Dillard was a four foot long laminated timeline from Thursday night setup to the 1:30 Saturday turnin - Printed in BOLD and checked frequently.
We could have done it in 3 feet, but it had huge print for us old Farts
Even had our sleep schedule on it.
We live by the time line--gonna mess up if you don't.
Quote:
I'll be checking the cooker and yakking (big surprise, huh!) with a video guy from NBBQA News - Tim walks over and "lurks" (which is tough to do since he's shorter than I am) trying to remind me about one of our "timeline" targets.
I think what I said was "Shut the Fark up and cook", or words to that effect
We are on a mission and that guy had enough footage already
Quote:
We don't want you to have to re-invent the wheel - we know our "advice" and "suggestion" sometimes sting - but man, I've going home from these things empty handed for almost a year. It SUCKS!
AMEN
Quote:
Heck, we get stung being counseled by the teams around us. They encourage us even when we are looking at sucking up $1000 weekend and tell us "only one year! Man, don't quit now...we quit competing for 2 years and cooked with.... until we felt ready to try it again!" Reality bites.
Actually--over $1200 at Dillard, but who is counting anymore

We have always received great advice and encouragement in person at the events and here on the Forum.
It is very difficult to do the "whole thing" over the internet, but it can be done if everyone works together.

We want you to succeed and will help all we can.
We have some highly experienced competetors here, including Champions of major events, reigning Team of the Year Champions of Regional sanctioning bodies (such as FBA), KCBS Reps, and at least 4 current or former members of the KCBS and FBA Board of Directors.
Probably more that I am not aware of.
When these Dudes talk and share, I personally take notes

But....it's really up to you.
We are here.

TIM
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Unread 08-23-2005, 12:31 PM   #8
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Alright here another side of the story. We go to contests to compete but MORE IMPORTANTLY we go to have fun - that means competing AND partying. While I agree 100% with the intenet of everypost in this thread you MUST be focused on what your are doing AND you have to have a WRITTEN plan. After that have fun!!

Here is where some will not agree but the Royal is as much a social event as it is a BBQ contest. You have never seen a party like the royal. We will have a DJ and between 20 to 30 people at our site on Friday night - all for one reason - to party and have fun. After the party we go back to being focused on the contest.

While the royal is a big party we treat every contest the same just to a lesser degree - no DJ and fewer people on Firday night. For us Friday is for the party but after the party it is all about the contest.

People do these contests for different resons but MOST want to win. There are teams that never party or even drink because they want to be focused on winning - for them they are having fun doing that. There are also teams that are there ONLY to party and competing seems to be secondary to them. The rest of us are somewhere in between. The fun part for us is entertaining friends and having a good time on Friday and then focusing on the contest. We have not won in two years (we do have a RGC and a couple of thirds) but we have never finished last either (at least not last overall). If we stop having fun we will quit.

After you do this for a while you will fall into a pattern that suits your particular reason for doing these contests, for us it is showing off our BBQing skills to our friends and family on Friday and competing on Saturday.

Just by $0.02
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Unread 08-23-2005, 12:42 PM   #9
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Tim and Dave, I appreciate your thoughts and sharing of advice. I really do. The only thing I took exception with was the way the two or three threads were "moderated". I do feel like several of you here have gotten the idea that I'm going to party my ass off and not do my best. First off, at my age, I can't handle the partying like I used to. Secondly, my wife will be there helping out... and she wouldn't allow it anyway. Thirdly, I'm farkin HUGELY competitive. Hell, I used to take a couple of hours to get up and psyched for CHURCH LEAGUE softball games! Once I barrelled over a catcher at the plate and pissed him off over it. He said that wasn't necessary. I just turned around and told him this ain't little league and to deal with it or go play checkers. I also came back after five weeks and played after being out with a torn calf muscle. Doc said I wouldn't play again that year but when he said that, my first instinct was telling him "Bullchit I won't play!" I did five weeks later. The point is, I'm competitive. I can't help myself. I don't care who is there... once I walk onto the contest grounds, everyone who isn't on my team is the enemy. My goal is to figuratively barrel over everyone.

So... you can remind me of not partying too much if you feel like you need to but that won't be the problem. Apparently the problem is going to be getting my farkin turn in boxes just right to fit my perfectionist personality.
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Unread 08-23-2005, 12:52 PM   #10
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Good points, Wayne. Some folks take it more seriously. I'm looking forward to having a FEW family and friends there for support as much as anything. As you mention, the Royal IS a huge social event, maybe one of the biggest of the year in all of Kansas City. To me, it's a bit of a status thing for friends and family to see you set up along side some of the best Q masters in the country. But more than friends and family just seeing my team set up with the big boys, the status / social part of it would increase by being able to say I placed and even won a ribbon. I think I'm in the "somewhere in between" category, leaning more towards the extreme serious part but not so much that I don't want have a few visitors on Friday night. I'm out to win, plain and simple. I don't care if I'd never competed before or had 10-15 contests under my belt... I'm still out to win. Now if I get 290th out of 400 teams, I'll probably be satisfied first time out but still, I will go into every contest with winning in mind and if things screw up on the cooker or something else happens, I'll face reality then.
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Unread 08-23-2005, 01:00 PM   #11
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Just a suggestion also... from Phil's post with the timeline in it on page 2 on down, can probably be split to it's own thread as it really isn't about pre-seasoned meat brought to contests or cheating. Maybe "Time Management" or "To Party or Not to Party"... we've kinda gotten off the topic here. Of course if you farkers are going to whip me into shape (as Phil called it) over the next five or so weeks, who knows where ANY thread concerning starting up with contests will end up!
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Unread 08-23-2005, 01:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Apparently the problem is going to be getting my farkin turn in boxes just right to fit my perfectionist personality.
OK, case in point. Imperfect boxes can lose a catagory for you but they can't win it!! You're focusing on the "last thing you do" - at this point I'd be focusing on getting the meat as perfect as you know how.

Taste and tenderness are much more heavily weighted portions of the score.

The turn in box is lettuce and parsley in a white styro container. There is only so much you can do with a 9x9 box and 6 or 8 leaves of lettuce and a bunch of parsley - work on it for sure but don't agonize over it.

Get the meat right (after all - this is a meat contest) and make IT pretty - color, glaze/sauce, skin, smoke ring, etc. and then lay it in the box. Heck, half the work of a box is getting the edges to "poof up" - the bottom of the leaves are covered.

The appearnce score IS important but is a lower priority, at this time, than fine tuning the cooking process. I'd put working with the boxes into the last week or so so that anything really nice and inovative is fresh in your mind.

This is the type stuff "we" are going to hammer home. Prioritize what's significantly more important and work on the cosmetics on the side.

RE Wayne's post - I understand - but you guys have been doing it a while. You also have someone availabe to pick up slack if someone takes an extra hour or three to get their head out of the margarita machine! :D If Jeff gets his eye off the ball he won't have someone around to remind him or help him get back up to speed.

You are so right that different teams approach the competition from differing levels of intensity. Partying and fun are terms that indeed mean different things to each team.

Emphasis on "fun" varies, too, by region. In our neck of the woods the top players are usually solo or minimalist (2-3 members) teams and while we share invites for food and drinks very few participate in Friday night parties - I don't know why. We've emulated them because we HAVE seen the results of a bit too much partying and at 6 a.m. it's NOT PRETTY! However, that's our choice and that's the way we would handle any contest including the Royal, Jack, or MIM. It's our "comfort zone". :D

Heck if this stuff was locked in EVERYBODY would be doing it!! :D
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Unread 08-23-2005, 02:49 PM   #13
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OK here's what I've been killing time at work on this afternoon. Thoughts? What am I missing?

FRI 7:30 AM Arrive at Contest and start setting up camp (meat inspection whenever inspectors arrive)
FRI 10:30 AM Finish setting up camp and relax for 30 minutes
FRI 11:00 AM Trim, slather and rub Briskets and get back into cooler
FRI 11:30 AM Trim, slather and rub Butts and get back into cooler
FRI 3:00 PM Pull membranes from Ribs and rub, put back in cooler
FRI 8:15 PM Take Butts out of cooler, rub again and set out
FRI 8:00 PM Take Briskets out of cooler, rub again and set out
FRI 9:00 PM Get Briskets onto smoker (hickory)
FRI 9:30 PM Prepare Chicken brine
FRI 10:00 PM Put Butts into smoker (apple & hickory)
FRI 10:00 PM Get Chicken into brine and pack in ice.
SAT 6:00 AM Hopefully Briskets are at 165 degrees - wrap in foil and back to smoker
SAT 6:00 AM Take Ribs out of cooler to bring temp up a bit
SAT 6:00 AM Rinse Chicken, inject and rub and cooler again
SAT 6:00 AM Hopefully Butts are at 165 degrees - spray heavily, wrap in foil and back to smoker
SAT 7:00 AM Put Ribs in Smoker (cherry & hickory)
SAT 7:00 AM Put Chicken in Smoker (apple & hickory)
SAT 9:00 AM Spray Ribs and wrap in foil and back into Smoker
SAT 10:30 AM Start checking doneness of brisket with probe
SAT 11:00 AM Briskets out of smoker and into cooler (hopefully at 180 degrees)
SAT 11:00 AM Ribs out of Smoker and into cooler to hold
SAT 11:15 AM Glaze chicken and hold at temp
SAT 11:35 AM Start working on Chicken turn-in box / garnish and prepping chicken
SAT 11:55 AM Leave camp with Chicken turn-in box en route to Judge Tent
SAT NOON Chicken Turn-In at Judge Tent
SAT 12:05 PM Start working on Ribs turn-in box / garnish and slicing ribs
SAT 12:25 PM Leave camp with Ribs turn-in box en route to Judge Tent
SAT 12:30 PM Ribs Turn-In at Judge Tent
SAT 12:35 PM Start working on Pork Butt turn-in box / garnish and slicing / pulling pork
SAT 12:55 PM Leave camp with Pork Butt turn-in box en route to Judge Tent
SAT 1:00 PM Pork Butt Turn-In at Judge Tent
SAT 1:05 PM Start working on Brisket turn-in box / garnish and slicing brisket
SAT 1:25 PM Leave camp with Brisket turn-in box en route to Judge Tent
SAT 1:30 PM Brisket Turn-In at Judge Tent
SAT 1:35 PM Down several beers while relaxing in a comfortable chair!
SAT ??? Go collect my checks, trophies and ribbons!

I like the idea of a laminated chart at the camp so I want something solid to do this myself so we can refer to it.
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Unread 08-23-2005, 02:57 PM   #14
Jeff_in_KC
somebody shut me the fark up.
 
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Originally Posted by chad
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Apparently the problem is going to be getting my farkin turn in boxes just right to fit my perfectionist personality.
OK, case in point. Imperfect boxes can lose a catagory for you but they can't win it!! You're focusing on the "last thing you do" - at this point I'd be focusing on getting the meat as perfect as you know how.

Taste and tenderness are much more heavily weighted portions of the score.
To be quite honest, I'm not concerned at all with ribs and pork butt quality. I'm confident in my cooking these. Yeah, timing at a contest is different than at home but I still know I can repeat my success so far. I'm getting closer on brisket but not completely comfortable yet. I've yet to do chicken thighs but I'm going to resolve that this weekend and get an idea about where I stand on them.

BTW... I signed up for the sausage competition. It was free to do and I figure I'll have several fatties on in the early morning hours anyway so WTF(ark)?
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Unread 08-23-2005, 03:45 PM   #15
tommykendall
Quintessential Chatty Farker
 
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OK here's what I've been killing time at work on this afternoon. Thoughts?
My thoughts are that is exaclty why the Dr. prescribed you that stress medicine.
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