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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 03-11-2006, 05:24 PM   #1
Jeff_in_KC
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Default My First Judging Experience

Well, my first judging effort is in the books. Judged at North Kansas city today and it was an experience. Not all positive. I learned a few things. First off and what bothered me the most was that I now see the importance of getting as many CBJs as possible for contests. There was a guy near me who has judged a few times but between categories in our conversations, it became obvious that he had no idea how to judge BBQ as the KCBS teaches. One guy at the table I would have removed had I been a Contest Rep. The rep walked by and when the guy yawned, the rep asked him how he was and if he was asleep already. The guy replied in an annoyed tone of voice "Let's just get this show on the road already." Well hello McFly... the first turn in time isn't for another 15 minutes yet! Geez! And the woman on the other side of me... in the four categories, I bet she ate like two crackers and about a half bottle of water or less. Many times, I noticed she failed to cleanse her palate between samples. How can someone get a clear idea of a team's efforts when they've still got the taste from the team prior in their mouth??? I saw judges taking small bites out of their samples and moving on, scoring all six entries in a matter of five minutes or less and in some cases, they spent more time packing all the rest of the samples into their coolers than they did actually judging. I'm not kidding. As I considered each entry, I kept in mind all the money and effort I've spent in the last year and that many of these teams had done the same thing or more and that this is important as hell to them! I figured I owed it to the people I was judging to take my time and do it right. I was the last judge done at my table every time.

Sorry for the rant but it was what struck me about this contest. I don't mean to knock anyone specifically but dang people, come on! And I won't single out non-KCBS CBJs either because I noticed a few of them packing big coolers too! It would be my opinion (and granted I've only judged once) that KCBS forbid the removal of remaining samples and maybe things would get better. And it could be that it was just this contest or because it was the first contest of the year and everyone's pumped to eat Q. Don't get me wrong... if you are a judge who takes home Q after a contest judging, I don't have a problem with it if that's what you want to do. I would hope that everyone would at least not make it so apparent that they're hoarding leftovers.

Anyway, I don't know if it was rust of a long winter or what but there were some bad samples and a few really good ones that stood out. I had one chicken that stood out head and shoulders above the others. There was one that was all white meat sliced, one legs and white meat sliced and one thighs with white meat sliced. The white meat in all instances was good and moist but not really outstanding in flavor.

Ribs... not a one really impressed me. The two that scored the best for appearance were really not good tender-wise or in flavor. One was LOADED with black pepper and dry. The other was undercooked and loaded with sauce. There was four babyback entries, a St. Louis spare entry and well... one that was a full spare that I have no idea how they got six in a box! Three of the six I thought were over-sauced and masked the meat flavor.

Pork... well, I love pulled pork and I got myself in trouble here, eating practically all the samples I took! There were a couple of interesting ideas, including one that piled six little piles for their entry. A couple had cubed pieces with the pulled and one was all chunked. The pork scores were the best of all categories.

Brisket... Some good ones here but one was about a half inch thick (overcooked?) and one was my GAWD over-smoked! It was so bitter I could hardly eat it and when I can't eat Q, that's bad! It was the only one I gave a "3" to of all entries in all categories. All but one entry included sliced and burnt ends (or at least cubed point). There was one stand-out brisket that I gave 999 to.

Afterwards, I stuck around and helped clean up tables, put away tray stands and fold chairs, got my judging record sheet signed by the rep and made like a tree...

So what did I learn? I learned of course the importance of taking your time, cleansing the palate and doing right by the teams I'm judging. I learned a few ideas for turn in boxes. I learned to discriminate between some really similar entry samples which I think will help me to determine subtle differences that can make or break an entry, mine or anyone's. I learned that whenever I judge, I will not only operate by KCBS code of ethics but also my own code of ethics that includes being sure, being last to turn in my score card, never removing ANY BBQ samples from the judging area and always staying to help clean up afterwards.

One thing I noticed, at least at my table, there was really zero discussion of the samples after each round of judging so I wasn't able to ascertain what everyone thought. I did compare a bit with a guy next to me after the ribs. But no discussion and the Master CBJ at the other end of the table I thought would help some of us but he wasn't too talkative.

Another thing... I didn't see one single table captain sample any Q. Are they doing it elsewhere or what? Mine was a girl who worked WAY too hard to be able to take the time to eat any samples. I'm wondering about the validity of trying to put eight samples in a box. What do you all think? Anyone notice similar?

While part of it was frustrating and I wanted to be out cooking, I enjoyed the experience. I plan to judge another contest in May and maybe one late in the season. I think I'll try to do two or three a year, just to stay up with everything.
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Last edited by Jeff_in_KC; 03-12-2006 at 11:39 AM..
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Unread 03-11-2006, 05:38 PM   #2
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Good report Jeff.

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Unread 03-11-2006, 05:55 PM   #3
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Thanks Jeff
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Unread 03-11-2006, 09:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
I saw judges taking small bites out of their samples and moving on, scoring all six entries in a matter of five minutes or less
This is why a cook gets one shot with the judges. Either it impresses on that first bite or you're done. To me - as a cook - that's the most important lesson to learn.
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Unread 03-11-2006, 09:35 PM   #5
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I think it would be nice if like Jeff said, Judges are reminded how much time and money was spent by the competitors and to please put everything out of there minds and give the contestants 2 hours of their FOCUSED attention.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 05:53 AM   #6
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Jeff I appreciate the insite as to what goes on in the judges area during a contest.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 06:51 AM   #7
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Thanks Jeff,
That experience is exactly why I personally feel it is a waste of my time and MONEY to compete. I know I smoke some average BBQ and maybe not as good as someone that competes, but how would a person know if that's the way it's judged? And, I think ALL contests are probably about the same in the judging issues.
I really do think comps are all about getting together and having fun. That's the most important thing!!!! The winners? Well, probably don't matter as long as everyone has a good time. I really think it is a toss of the coin and your story validates that for me.
I got 2 first place trophys at my first comp and the stuff I turned in was MARGINAL at best in my opinion. What the heck did everyone else turn in on that day? I am sure there was Q better than mine and they didn't win. What's the point?
I am smoking for my friends and family and catering jobs and those people always tell my it's the BEST Q they have ever had. Good enough for me.
If you want to party with a bunch of GREAT people that smoke, go to a comp and have some fun. They should give a trophy to everyone that attends. In MY opinion, those trophies just signify that a person attended and had some fun.
PARTY!!!!!!!!
Smoke On!!!!
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Unread 03-12-2006, 09:25 AM   #8
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Jeff.
I'm sorry you had a lousy experience, but it's not always like that. I found the judges at my first contest were extremely professional and took the job very seriously.

Here's some quotes about my first time....

Quote:
The table captain opened each box of food and showed it to us to judge appearance. Once Jamie, our table captain said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is box number...." we all fell silent and started judging. Judges are not allowed to speak to each other while the food is being judged. We are not allowed to motion to each other or make faces either. Game face on! Just like a poker game.

I was impressed on how professional everyone was and how seriously we all took out duties.
and...

Quote:
There was complete silence while we judged. I think we spent about 15 minutes eating and rating our each food category before we were all ready to discuss our decisions. Once all the score cards were submitted we'd critique each category asking, which one was best and which was worse, but no one compared scores.
No contest is perfect and you'll always find a couple of lousy judges, but in my experience, overall the judges do care and try their best.

You can read my whole post here...

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...t=inside+judge
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Unread 03-12-2006, 09:37 AM   #9
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rob, it wasn't really lousy. That's kinda strong. I enjoyed myself and I know there was probably a majority of the judges there who did it right. I was at the back of the room with my back to most of the people there. But I figured that if there was two at my table who were not doing right by the cooks, there was probably one at each table. And when I say "doing right", I mean that they might just as easily give inflated scores incorrectly as they would bad scores. Either way, cooks would never really know exactly how they stacked up that day.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 10:33 AM   #10
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Thanks Jeff, for that experience it is nice to find some one willing to tell there Experience at the jugging table.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 11:42 AM   #11
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Jeff, it was good to see you and Wayne this weekend. Thanks for the report on your judging experience, it is interesting. Concerning the scoring, here's a pic of my ribs, which one judge said was a 5 in apperance. Granted it's not the best I've done, and there should have been two more bones in the box beside the 6 to show more meat and less parsley, but a 5?
Oh well, the other 5 said it was 88889 :)
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Unread 03-12-2006, 12:13 PM   #12
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I just went to a judging school in marshalltown iowa last weekend and even at the table that my wife and I were at the other 4 people were not eating the cracker or drinking the water between the bbq samples. I don't know some things can be explained fifty times and some people just don't get it.

It's a Farkin crap shoot no matter where your at. Your at the mercy of the judges and thats that. Live with it, cause that's how it is.

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Unread 03-12-2006, 12:28 PM   #13
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Greg, no way in heck is that a 5 on appearance. That looks better than any of the ones we got at our table. do you have pictures of the other three categories you can share?
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Unread 03-12-2006, 12:50 PM   #14
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Well Jeff, I'm not very proud of the skinless thighs, and the judges weren't impressed either, (in apperance, taste or tenderness); but here it is. My camera batteries went dead and I didn't get a shot of the pork or brisket.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 05:01 PM   #15
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Wow! Nine thighs in a box! You filled that sucker, Greg! Maybe the different sizes of thighs hurt? I dunno. I can tell you that your chicken didn't end up on our table either.

BTW Greg, I saw the Clones won and Bare Bones took reserve. Who else finished in the top ten and in categories? How'd you place?
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