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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 05-13-2013, 06:41 PM   #1
Lake Dogs
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Default To Competitors: Case in point regarding playing to the center

Yesterday. You know the day, Mothers Day, the day you take mom and the family out to lunch at mom's favorite place. Her choice, yesterday, was Longhorns. We live in a college (bar) town, so it's about as good as we get 'round these parts.

We're there, wife orders the filet, I get the ribeye, daughter gets chicken (I know, steak place ordering chicken; KIDS!). About 3/4ths of the way through my daughter notices that I've cut almost all of the fat off of the ribeye and asks if she can have it (the fat). I'm like "sure, whatever", so she snarfs up the beef fat.

My point is simple; judges are the same way. Averages being averages you'll get 2 like me, 2 like my wife, and 2 like my daughter. So, how do you make your BBQ appeal to all 6 you ask? The answer is this: Dont alienate any judge. Remove ALL the fat. As judges, the 2 like me who find the fat necessary to cook but disgusting to eat, in a BBQ contest, cannot remove the fat because we're supposed to eat it as you presented it. The 2 judges like my will will kill you at the mere sight of if (watch out brisket fat fans; some find the fat extremely un-appealing, and IF they have to eat it they're liable to throw up). Dont alienate any judge, HOW? Remove ALL the fat. The 2 that hate it will not know it was cooked in fat, the 2 that like it cooked in but hate to eat it will notice and be thankful, and the 2 that love fat may miss it but they'll enjoy the flavors cooked in...
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Unread 05-13-2013, 06:47 PM   #2
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Interesting take, I see the point you are making. In general, I don't know how true it is. Then again, it seems like the best scoring boxes I see are beautifully trimmed and almost no fat.

And I like the fat.
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Unread 05-13-2013, 06:53 PM   #3
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If you dont like beef fat, you can't be my friend anymore.
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Unread 05-13-2013, 07:10 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Alexa RnQ View Post
If you dont like beef fat, you can't be my friend anymore.
Hallelujah!
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Unread 05-13-2013, 07:45 PM   #5
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hance ain't talkin 'bout what y'all LIKE....
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Unread 05-13-2013, 10:12 PM   #6
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Great points. And thanks for that perspective.
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Unread 05-14-2013, 04:52 AM   #7
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I've always been told that it's not about trying to impress the judges but rather trying not to piss any of them off. So I agree with you.
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Unread 05-14-2013, 06:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexa RnQ View Post
If you dont like beef fat, you can't be my friend anymore.
Also if a judge don't like a little fat on their brisket whether it be from a well trimmed cap or separation if you get our turn ins from the middle where we like it, they shouldn't be a judge. A little bit of both. Also depending which sanction makes a big difference. Also it's just really hard to impress "Eaters" that don't know a lick bit of sense about how to prepare competition BBQ and how to judge it objectively. At our last sanction I spoke to the promoter and head judge, and the told me they had 2 guys judging that didn't give 1 single team higher than a 2 the year before! People like that enrage me, cook offs cost alot of $$$! I agree middle of the road will be better in the long run. Any top 10 could be a 1st in the right area and day.
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Unread 05-14-2013, 07:27 AM   #9
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I've always been told that it's not about trying to impress the judges but rather trying not to piss any of them off. So I agree with you.
That's exactly it! Truth is, you cannot ever really impress everyone. The reason is simple; what impresses one person pisses off his neighbor.

However, you can easily piss-off a judge or two (or more). Pissing off one judge in most sanctioning bodies just makes that the one score that gets thrown out. However, as soon as that 2nd judge is pissed-off you're toast.

It's like using a mustard sauce. The problem is that no matter how fan-darn-tastic that sauce is with your BBQ, there are going to be 2 or 3 or probably 4 or 5 judges that just dont like mustard sauces at all. 1 or 2 judges will be very impressed (assuming it's fan-darn-tastic), and the others will kill you.

I've seen it written that "new or innovative flavor profiles are not rewarded", and I'll disagree with that blanket statement. I will say be very careful how innovative you are. For example, a highly regarded BBQ here on brethren (who I happen to admire) talks about how his innovative rasberry sauce was trounced. I suggest that it wasnt the innovation that got trounced, but that not everyone liked a tart sauce, or it just didnt taste like BBQ any longer to them. Either way, toast.

Play to the center. Dont piss-off any judges. Just because you like heavily smoked meat doesn't mean everyone does. Just because you like a little food with your salt doesnt mean everyone does. Just because you love some beef with the fat doesn't mean everyone does...


I certainly was not trying to make any personal statement; merely using a real-world example and applying it to judging...
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Unread 05-14-2013, 07:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmoney7269 View Post
Also if a judge don't like a little fat on their brisket whether it be from a well trimmed cap or separation if you get our turn ins from the middle where we like it, they shouldn't be a judge. A little bit of both. Also depending which sanction makes a big difference. Also it's just really hard to impress "Eaters" that don't know a lick bit of sense about how to prepare competition BBQ and how to judge it objectively. At our last sanction I spoke to the promoter and head judge, and the told me they had 2 guys judging that didn't give 1 single team higher than a 2 the year before! People like that enrage me, cook offs cost alot of $$$! I agree middle of the road will be better in the long run. Any top 10 could be a 1st in the right area and day.
Can I ask what sactioning body you cook under..just wondering?
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Unread 05-14-2013, 08:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmoney7269 View Post
Also if a judge don't like a little fat on their brisket whether it be from a well trimmed cap or separation if you get our turn ins from the middle where we like it, they shouldn't be a judge. A little bit of both. Also depending which sanction makes a big difference. Also it's just really hard to impress "Eaters" that don't know a lick bit of sense about how to prepare competition BBQ and how to judge it objectively. At our last sanction I spoke to the promoter and head judge, and the told me they had 2 guys judging that didn't give 1 single team higher than a 2 the year before! People like that enrage me, cook offs cost alot of $$$! I agree middle of the road will be better in the long run. Any top 10 could be a 1st in the right area and day.
Respectfully, I'd like to disagree with you on most of this.

This next statement isn't meaning to compare or say mine is more. Merely, I'm basing this information that I've presented above and below as a matter of fact and not opinion, facts that I've learned over time, competing and judging many different types of food competitions. These truths are largely the same, particularly the more judges your food is presented to. I've cooked in probably 200 sanctioned and unsanctioned chili cookoffs (probably 500+ entries/categories), placing in the top 10% in probably 90% or more of them. I've judged and/or hosted judging another 100 chili contests. I've competed in or judged another 50 or so general grilling competitions (steak cookoffs, etc.). I've competed in probably 40 BBQ cookoffs and have been a CBJ since 2005 and judged another right at 100 BBQ cookoffs. Literally, I've thrown away hundreds of trophies, and the wife has me throwing away the remainder (except for cupcake; our beautifully carved pig trophy) of them shortly... To reiterate; what I'm talking about applies to every contest, not just BBQ, and I mention the above only so that you understand that I have some experience working with these truths.


> Also if a judge don't like a little fat on their brisket whether it be from a well trimmed cap or separation if you get our turn ins from the middle where we like it, they shouldn't be a judge.

I'll not comment on whether I think they should judge or not, but I'll say they are a judge none the less, and as a competitor, to be successful in the long run, you'll account for them. You could say the same thing in chili, if they dont like it hot as hell like we like it, they shouldn't be a judge. I say, like it or not, they are a judge.


> Also depending which sanction makes a big difference.

Some, yes, some no. For example, KCBS and FBA are very similar, but KCBS to MBN couldn't be much more different if they tried. Know that every sanctioning body defines their game differently.


> Also it's just really hard to impress "Eaters" that don't know a lick bit of sense about how to prepare competition BBQ and how to judge it objectively.

I'll author an opposing opinion; nothing is more subjective than taste. There is no way to objectively judge something that is personal preference itself. I have a partner in BBQ who is an opponent in grilling and chili cookoffs. He likes a little food with his salt. I happen to hate salt. Doesnt make him nor me right. What it makes is this: when we find something that tastes great to both him and me, we know we have the salty level adjusted just right...


> Any top 10 could be a 1st in the right area and day.

For the most part, you could say "Any top 10 could be a 1st if it were on a different table at that same cookoff". There is a LOT of luck as to which table you land on. Luck in which judges are sitting at your table. Depending on the sanctioning body and their judging styles, luck as to which entries landed on the same table. Regardless of sanctioning bodies, luck as to which entries your entry is sampled before and behind. Trust me, it's highly unlikely to get great scores if your food (BBQ, chili, most anything) is sampled behind one that is so ghastly bad that the judge cannot get that taste out of his/her mouth. As objective as the different sanctioning bodies try to make it, there's still a lot of luck involved.


> At our last sanction I spoke to the promoter and head judge, and the told me they had 2 guys judging that didn't give 1 single team higher than a 2 the year before!

This is really another LONG debated topic altogether. Yes, there surely are some people who shouldn't judge. What I've learned by competing enough is that there are some sanctioning bodies that allow this behavior and some that dont, and some competitions that allow it and others that dont. I try to stick to those only with 100% CBJ's where they have rules against this behavior and it's enforced. I guess I'm lucky this way; I live in an area where we have choices. Others I suppose dont have many choices...
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Unread 05-14-2013, 10:11 AM   #12
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... At our last sanction I spoke to the promoter and head judge, and the told me they had 2 guys judging that didn't give 1 single team higher than a 2 the year before!...
In that case I would have to ask the promoter and the head judge why those 2 guys were allowed back to judge.

I know of at least four organizers who do their best to keep those kind of judges out of their contests. These are also the organizers who get 100% CBJs and who will not tolerate no-call / no-show judges.

Come to think of it, those organizers are also the ones who fill up early and have waiting lists for both cooks and judges. Just sayin'.
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Unread 05-14-2013, 01:30 PM   #13
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Playing to the center is a fancy way of saying the word balanced.
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Unread 05-14-2013, 02:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lake Dogs View Post
I'll not comment on whether I think they should judge or not, but I'll say they are a judge none the less, and as a competitor, to be successful in the long run, you'll account for them. You could say the same thing in chili, if they dont like it hot as hell like we like it, they shouldn't be a judge. I say, like it or not, they are a judge.
THIS, I find to be the outright truth.


People that have very different tastes and preferences than all of us are, in fact, sometimes judges. "Should or shouldn't" may not apply at all. They're there and we have to cook for them. Ignore them at your peril.
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Unread 05-15-2013, 02:02 PM   #15
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THIS, I find to be the outright truth.

People that have very different tastes and preferences than all of us are, in fact, sometimes judges. "Should or shouldn't" may not apply at all. They're there and we have to cook for them. Ignore them at your peril.
The "ignore them at your peril" is at the very root of this, and IS what I'm trying to get across, obviously to new or fairly new competitors.


I've called it historically the "terrible too's". Meaning, don't be too this, or too that, because what appeals to one person really pisses off the next person...
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