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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 05-08-2012, 07:54 PM   #1
txschutte
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Default Competition Classes-Is it the way to go?

After our first KCBS comp, and our first "real" walk, we are thirsting for more. We are determined to climb the heap and actually get some top five calls. Our team has discussed what to change, what to watch out for, and the things we will stick with.

We also discussed classes. Rod Gray's class to be exact. But, with us really only planning to participate in one more KCBS comp this year, andf maybe up to five next, plus the hefty price of admission into the class, is it really worth it?

I would really like to hear from those that have taken Rod's class, and from those that have been successful without a class of any kind.
Thanks!
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Unread 05-08-2012, 08:47 PM   #2
BC Squared
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Quit worrying about the destination and enjoy the journey....just saying.
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Unread 05-08-2012, 08:49 PM   #3
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Absolutley, undeniablely, 100% worth it to take a class.

A good class will drastically shorten the time it takes to learn the craft. It will also in most cases prove to be cost effective in terms of lessening the number of contests needed to hone those skills. I would estimate that a good class may knock as much as a year off the learning curve. YMMV, but if it even teaches you 2 things that may have taken 2-3 contests to learn, you have saved hundreds of dollars.

I haven't been to Rod's class but its the short version of my "To Do List"
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Unread 05-08-2012, 08:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BC Squared View Post
Quit worrying about the destination and enjoy the journey....just saying.
Yeah, but a journey lined with mediocre finishes sure makes for a long ride.
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Unread 05-08-2012, 08:57 PM   #5
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I'm really REALLY new to the comp scene, so take this for what it's worth.
I joined a team this year (Big JT's Smokin BBQ). I cooked with Jimmy (Big JT) a couple times last year, but finally officially went all in this year. Jimmy took a class last year. This past winter, I took a class and he took another class.

2 comps in and our scores are worse than his were last year. I'm not saying that the classes aren't worth the money. I'm also not saying that we didn't learn anything from the classes, because that's certainly not true. All I know is that our food is good. Things are not under or overdone. Flavors are good. Boxes look great. All subjective, yes, and we're not judging, but we're pretty frustrated right now. It's not just me who can cook well at home and is fooling himself on the comp scene. This is Jimmy's 3rd year and he's equally frustrated.

I know that when we took our classes 2 weeks apart, when we compared notes and talked about things we were both pretty amazed at what we'd learned and were super excited to get rolling this year.

Now we're not sure whether to go back to what we were doing last year or stick with it.


THIS (I'm sure) is the frustration that all team go through. I just know that together we've dropped thousands of dollars on classes, entry fees, meats, rubs, sauces, equipment, etc. and to end up in the middle of the pack farkin sucks.

Seriously.....not dogging competition BBQ classes at all and not saying that they're not worth it. That's just what we're feeling right now.
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Unread 05-08-2012, 09:00 PM   #6
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Get out there and get a few competitions under your belt. Then definately take a class!!!

Having done a few competitions you will be able to better utilize the information given to you in a class.

The classes I personally would consider would be:

Joe(Tippycanoe) and Ryan(BigT'z BBQ) class is great

Mike Davis(LottaBull BBQ) very good

Scottie(CancerSucks) and Mike(Quau) very good as well
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Unread 05-08-2012, 09:20 PM   #7
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I took a class just for fun and absolutely loved it. I knew alot about what was being taught but there were a few little tidbits I learned. Definitely worth it. Good food, meeting other people interested in bbq, loved it.
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Unread 05-08-2012, 09:47 PM   #8
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A class is the only way to go
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Unread 05-08-2012, 10:57 PM   #9
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I agree with the advise about holding off until you have cooked a few contests. I don't think there is all that much variety between the recipes these teams are using (and if you search hard enough on the internet, you'll probably find them). The real value in these classes is learning how these guys approach a contest, what they look for, what they do, how they set things up, etc. Unless you have spent some time competing, I think a lot of that stuff will go over your head.

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Unread 05-08-2012, 10:59 PM   #10
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I agree with LoneStar. You'll get more out of a class if you cook a couple events on your own first. That way when you get to the class, you'll understand the context of what is being shown, and you'll also have a scoring yardstick to measure yourself by.

I've taught classes, and I find that the complete virgins waste a lot of valuable time asking basic questions about the logistics of a contest. Since they've never cooked in one this is natural, but the basics of how an event works can be learned more economically by attending a contest, even as a spectator. If you have a grasp on the nuts and bolts of competition BBQ you can focus your time with your instructor on the important stuff: delving into the details of technique and recipes.
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Unread 05-08-2012, 11:16 PM   #11
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I'm a cook who has cooked backyard for several years and will be cooking my first KCBS next weekend in Chesapeake, VA. A few weeks ago I took Todd Johns' class and it did wonders for my confidence! It was encouraging to see that I am using many of the same techniques and applying the same level of detail to my Q, but I learned lots of new techniques that I have tested and incorporated (or rejected) into my process. I definitely recommend taking a comp class!
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Unread 05-09-2012, 12:23 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txschutte View Post
I would really like to hear from those that have taken Rod's class, and from those that have been successful without a class of any kind.
Thanks!

Nither apply to me, but that has never stopped me from commenting.

To Prideful I guess.

I so often see the people that put on the class turn around and say...see Bubba just took my class and got XYZ Championship...as if Bubba had nothing to do with it. Not saying that is wrong, I would probably do the same thing.

I dont want to be beholding or have someone have that over me...Have not had a lot of success, but what I have I can at least say was all mine. Self taught and learned on my own and I dont have to say I learned it from anyone else!
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Unread 05-09-2012, 12:45 AM   #13
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Never competed as of yet, so take this with a grain of salt. My thoughts are, there are many classes that can be attended so I have have read.

I am sure you could gain some knowledge from taking one, but is this the way to win? Maybe, but for me being a little stubborn, I would like to do it on my own. Like you said, "Yeah, but a journey lined with mediocre finishes sure makes for a long ride."

Nothing comes easy but winning something from your own trial and error could be the key to your success!

I would rather lose a few than use another persons method to win, in BBQ or anything else. For me that makes the win so much better.

To each their own, but I do not like to spend money for information I have locked in my mind already. Relax and let go, it is just good food.
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Unread 05-09-2012, 03:20 AM   #14
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If I were only planning on cooking one more event this year, I would suggest you and your teammates invest the time to take a CBJ class. At least get an idea of what your turn ins will be scored as. You might think you know how to cook BBQ, but do you know how to cook for what the Judges are trained to critique? It will give you a whole new perspective.

Then shop around for a class, better yet a couple if your teammates can swing one as well.


I've taken in a few BBQ 101 classes put on by an experienced KCBS/PNWBA team as well as Paul Kirks class and helped wash dishes at others to gain some extra knowledge I missed out being a total noob, when I first got into this hobby.
From there I got serious and took a class from Ray Lampe and Jim Minion and started competing. It definitely helped me. Knowledge is power, so while some of the techniques I've picked up from Butcher BBQ, Smoke on Wheels or Rhythm 'n Que were not exactly groundbreaking BBQ secrets, I came away with what Vince calls "nuggets of information" that have helped me to fine tune my game and learn from some very good instructors at the top of their games.
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Unread 05-09-2012, 05:43 AM   #15
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I agree on competing in a few more comps to see if you really want to invest the time and money. A class does not insure a call at a comp so don't set yourself up for a letdown. I took Rod's class 2 years ago. If you are serious about competing, its well worth it. Rod and Sheri were great teachers. It cut down the "learning curve" time for me. Meaning it probably would have taken me a couple years to get where I was when I finished his class. Its not a sure ticket to win, but it gets you in the ballpark. Rod shared everything at his class and answered all questions. He cooked on 2 different pits (Jambo and FEC), all 4 meat categories, in real time. All the meat came out awesome.
What Rod was using/doing 2 years ago may not be what he is doing now, but thats where you have to tweak out your process and recipes to keep up with what the judges are looking for today. Its a work in progress to a point. Learn the basics from a class and put your spin on it.
I know the class helped me and at each comp costing me approx $500-600, the quicker we could move up the field, the better! I will say the first year we competed after the class we got calls in the 2-3 comps we entered and the winnings more than paid for the class.
Good Luck!
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Last edited by TRS; 05-09-2012 at 05:53 AM.. Reason: Adding more info
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