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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 06-11-2013, 01:06 PM   #1
smolderingbbq
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What are competition judges looking for? Aside from smell, taste and texture...What in the world makes the top shelf bbq better than middle of the pack? Both cooked to perfection with amazing taste but what are the little things that the pros are doing better? Thanks!
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Unread 06-11-2013, 01:46 PM   #2
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That is the $64,000 question... The answer is "Details".. it is the little things. Part of those details, is learning the feel.
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Unread 06-11-2013, 02:02 PM   #3
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Perfectly cooked meat wins all the time. A lot of the flavor profiles are the same.
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Unread 06-11-2013, 02:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sawdustguy View Post
Perfectly cooked meat wins all the time. A lot of the flavor profiles are the same.

I'd agree with that statement. Knowing what is perfectly cooked meat is, is another subject.
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Unread 06-11-2013, 02:46 PM   #5
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I recommend taking a judging class for the sanctioning body you are cooking in.
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Unread 06-11-2013, 03:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolderingbbq View Post
Aside from smell, taste and texture...
Whoa! Smell was added as a judging criteria?!

It would be funny to stand outside the judging tent as the judges leave with sauce on their noses...
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Unread 06-11-2013, 03:23 PM   #7
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I smell every piece. Tasting with your nose.

To me it is taking that bite and getting that "hell yes" feeling. Where you think if you were to cook it yourself with all the resources available to you, then you still wouldn't do anything different.
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Unread 06-11-2013, 03:35 PM   #8
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IMO, First it has to look appealing, really appealing like I can't wait to get a bite of THAT appealing. Then the aroma/smell has to make me want a bite NOW. Then after the first bite I can't wait to take a second bite kind of appealing. There are a lot of variables that come into play in those few seconds to minutes sampling/judging. Teams that win KCBS Sanctioned Events have found what's appealing in all 3 of the judging criteria (Appearance, Taste and Tenderness) and in all 4 of the meat categories. Murphy's Law is constantly working against them so a little luck helps as well... Cheers!!!
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Unread 06-11-2013, 07:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smolderingbbq View Post
What are competition judges looking for? Aside from smell, taste and texture...What in the world makes the top shelf bbq better than middle of the pack? Both cooked to perfection with amazing taste but what are the little things that the pros are doing better? Thanks!
What are judges looking for? Perfectly cooked meat wins every time. The difference between the top 2 or 3 entries and the middle-of-the-pack is simple: tenderness.

What are the little things that the pros are doing better? Like said above, a picture is worth a thousand words. You'll want to judge a few contests to see. The consistent winners know that it starts first with the presentation, hopefully so mouth watering that you want fight the judge next to you to eat his/her piece too. Perfect tenderness, as defined by the sanctioning body. Know that they define the different categories DIFFERENT from one another. KCBS perfect ribs fail in MBN, and visa. versa. Finally, taste. Frankly, it shouldn't be too anything. Not too sweet, not too spicy, not too salty, but certainly not too bland either. Blazing new trails outside of BBQ, tartness, etc. will be punished. Trying to appeal to a small minority (like with a mustard sauce) will be punished.

However, I'll tell you having judged probably 2000 entries over time, having two or three great tasting entries at the table, tenderness wins.
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Unread 06-11-2013, 08:29 PM   #10
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Remember that all judging is very subjective. The individual likes and dislikes of judges do play a part in the scoring. What is fantastically amazing to one judge can be not fit for human consumption to another. Then there is what I consider a big catch-22; the fact that judges are not supposed to consider the infamous smoke ring, but are supposed to judge on appearance... hello, a nice smoke ring simply does wonders for appearance, and thus affects the overall score.

That all being said, I do believe that most judges are true to the task they are given, and do the very best job they can to be fair in their judging. As competition cooks, we just need to remember this and compete to have fun and hopefully win a few bucks.
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Unread 06-11-2013, 10:07 PM   #11
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I recently took the kcbs judging class because I cook on a team and thought it would give me some insight on what judges. However I was really surprised at the lack of defined standards for the 3 scoring categories. Taste was simply what tastes good to you. Tenderness was you don't want it to be tough and you don't want it to be mushy. Appearance was does it wow you and make you want to eat it. In fact there wasn't even a standard way of coming up with a score. What I mean is we weren't told to start at a 9 and deduct points or start at a 3 and add points. We were told to do it however we felt comfortable but to be consistent throughout all categories in a competition.

The class did a very thorough job of covering rules like portions and allowable types of garnish. What to look for and how to score various violations.
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Unread 06-11-2013, 10:24 PM   #12
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I talked to a few "new" judges at my last contest (their first) and came away shaking my head. I wish I hadn't even spoken to them. One said he based his taste score on whether he would pay for it in a restaurant and they were constantly disagreeing and interrupting each other to interject what they thought was right. In other words they were all over the place and if you were unlucky enough to get them all at your table you are scoring bad because none of them were looking for the same thing.

Frustrating, and hard to hear one of them say "I don't see how judges can give 9's all the time because that means it was perfect......I have yet to eat a perfect piece of BBQ"

Uuuuuuuugggggggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!
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Unread 06-11-2013, 10:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlasman View Post
I talked to a few "new" judges at my last contest (their first) and came away shaking my head. I wish I hadn't even spoken to them. One said he based his taste score on whether he would pay for it in a restaurant and they were constantly disagreeing and interrupting each other to interject what they thought was right. In other words they were all over the place and if you were unlucky enough to get them all at your table you are scoring bad because none of them were looking for the same thing.

Frustrating, and hard to hear one of them say "I don't see how judges can give 9's all the time because that means it was perfect......I have yet to eat a perfect piece of BBQ"

Uuuuuuuugggggggggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

Now see that is someone just being an idiot and not paying attention when in judging class. A 9 is not for perfect BBQ. It is for excellent bbq. Hell its even listed on the scorecard!
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Unread 06-11-2013, 10:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pole D View Post
I recently took the kcbs judging class because I cook on a team and thought it would give me some insight on what judges. However I was really surprised at the lack of defined standards for the 3 scoring categories. Taste was simply what tastes good to you. Tenderness was you don't want it to be tough and you don't want it to be mushy. Appearance was does it wow you and make you want to eat it. In fact there wasn't even a standard way of coming up with a score. What I mean is we weren't told to start at a 9 and deduct points or start at a 3 and add points. We were told to do it however we felt comfortable but to be consistent throughout all categories in a competition.

The class did a very thorough job of covering rules like portions and allowable types of garnish. What to look for and how to score various violations.
Not sure what else one would do. Taste is 100% subjective in the taste buds God gave us. No two sets are the same. The description of tenderness is you don't want it under cooked (tough) or overcooked (mushy).
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Unread 06-11-2013, 11:02 PM   #15
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Back in 2008 I wrote an article that I submitted to the KCBS. It was actually received quite well and got a lot of feedback. Here is a link to it... Fairness In KCBS Judging.

I hope its alright to post this kind of link, if not, I truly apologize and understand if it has to be removed.
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