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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 08-23-2013, 12:42 AM   #1
Rusty Kettle
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Default What should I know about competing?

I am going to be competing probably this coming year. I have never done any competition before and well I am not sure where to start. What do you do to plan for a competition? Whats a good basic checklist of what I need to bring? Anything you think would be helpful would be greatly appreciated. I have no idea what I am doing other than cooking. What should I expect it be like. Any tips? Thanks
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Unread 08-23-2013, 12:53 AM   #2
Icekub
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Start here: http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=13677
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Unread 08-23-2013, 02:29 AM   #3
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Quote:
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Thank-You I have read everything that was linked and I am sure I will sit down and read it all over a few times.
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Unread 08-23-2013, 06:46 AM   #4
Lake Dogs
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Do it for the enjoyment of the competition. Have fun. Know that it is a hobby, even for the "Pro" folks, because very few (you can probably count these folks on a couple of fingers) make enough to actually pay the light bills and the mortgage payment consistently. The "Pro" folks are just more involved hobbyists...

Know there is no 1 type of BBQ contest. There are sanctioned contests and unsanctioned contests. Of the sanctioned contests, there are many sanctioning bodies that have different standards, different meats to cook, different definitions of the perfect BBQ, different judging criteria, different judges training, etc. etc. And the unsanctioned contests; anything goes for the most part. Just know that what works at say your local rib contest may or may not work in a KCBS sanctioned contest, and that may or may not work in a NEBS or GBA or FBA or MBN, etc. contest.

That's a long version of: READ THE RULES. ASK the organizer.

Then, practice, practice, practice. They all have a certain turn-in window. Practice cooking to that turn-in time. Right down everything you touch; that'll be your packing list. Plan on have water and power supplied at the contest, but also plan on the power going out for sometimes extended time periods and same with water... Me, I have a few lights to be plugged in for the night; otherwise we're completely power independent because it has always failed us... Water; largely the same. I truck in more than a few gallons, just in case...

If you can, attend a contest or two this fall, and dont just surf around. Bring a chair and sit back and WATCH some folks. If you can, apply to judge a contest. Seeing what comes across the table to be judged is very enlightening to many. Also look for example boxes (good and bad) on bbqcritic.com.

Know that it is a contest. You'll have a few teams that are there to party. The remainder of them, while they may be having fun, have brought their A game. It's on. They're there to win. Dont think that they slap a little KC Masterpiece on a grilled rib and put that through. These guys are serious and can produce some ****ed fine BBQ.

I remember coming back from my first judging experience saying "I've never in my 40 years ever, EVER had BBQ as wonderful as most of those entries". Think of the best BBQ restaurant you've ever eaten. For me, the very best I'd eaten was perhaps middle to bottom 1/3rd in that first contest I judged. And the best; well, that BBQ was as good if not better than mind shattering sex.

The reason I'm saying this is because of one of the teams I saw that first day judging. It was a group of young men, in their middle to latter 20's, they had an RV that they brought along. They were competing in an MIM contest where they'd cooked 2 whole shoulders and 3 racks of ribs. Total. That's the first major OOOOOOPS. Then, they got to drinking fairly heavily on Friday night. One guy stayed up, but apparently he fell asleep around 4. Someone finally woke up around 9... I was the first on-site judge to come see them at 10. It was a train wreck. They finally did begin to do a presentation and get me some Q, which wasn't done yet... It was mid presentation that of them asked me "How many judges do on-sites", to which I explained "I'm the first of three". That was when the "OH SH**" factor set in; a little late to realize that they needed to cook an absolute minimum of 4 shoulders and 5 ribs, and that's MINIMUM assuming they dont make finals. It was sad to see the sheer panic. I felt bad for them. They've never been back. For that I've felt worse. They didn't plan. They didn't ask.

Hopefully by you asking here that you wont do what they did, or frankly you will do what they didn't, and that's prepare. However, at some point, just do it. Jump in. You'll learn a TON from that first contest.

It can be a lot of fun.
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Unread 08-23-2013, 07:04 AM   #5
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One of our members, George Hensler, wrote a very good book on getting started in BBQ competitions.

http://amzn.com/1890689149
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Unread 08-23-2013, 07:36 AM   #6
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The most important thing to know is the team with the most points wins. I think the other post have covered the rest. Keith
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Unread 08-23-2013, 07:47 AM   #7
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Have you been to any comps in the past just to get an idea of what it's like? If you have not I would suggest you do. I'm sure you could find some brethren to guide you before you jump in.
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Unread 08-23-2013, 08:39 AM   #8
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Things to expect in you first competition...you're going to have fun, you're going to meet some great people, you're going to be exhausted when it's all over. The single most important thing is to know your cook times on each of your meats. Get the larger cuts finished early and resting, finish your ribs and chicken on time for turn ins. But most of all...have fun, you get a call or 2, you will be hooked!
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Unread 08-23-2013, 10:12 AM   #9
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Set realistic expectations for your first comp. Examples would be: Don't finish dead ass last DAL, don't miss any turn in times and get DQ'd, stuff like that.
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Unread 08-23-2013, 10:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeR View Post
Have you been to any comps in the past just to get an idea of what it's like? If you have not I would suggest you do. I'm sure you could find some brethren to guide you before you jump in.
I've judged and competed quite a bit over the years. What I've always found that frightened me is that 50% of the new teams never so much as ever attended a BBQ comp before; they had no idea whatsoever of what to expect.

Again, in the last competition that I competed in, it was an MBN competition. I came in early on Friday and set up; was in by noon sipping a beer. Next to me pulls up a new team. The guys got all set up, I came over offering beer, etc. and we talked. They had 1, and I mean 1 tiny little smoker and had 4 racks of ribs; for MBN? I asked if they understood the judging process, which of course the answer was No, and that they assumed blah blah blah. Fast forward about an hour, they scrambled, ran and purchased 8 more racks of ribs, and 2 more smokers, spent the night assembling them... Needless to say, they did finish, DAL. I even handed them (to borrow) 4 oven thermometers; never returned. Neither have they, by the way...
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Unread 08-23-2013, 11:23 AM   #11
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Hey Rusty - We just did out first KCBS comp a few weeks ago, after about five years of backyard cooking. A few highlights for me are (1) as others have mentioned, go in with the goal of having fun first and foremost, (2) take your practice seriously - we took regular notes and did a full four-category dry run in our driveway the week before the comp, with turn in times, boxes and everything (very helpful), (3) get some sleep, even if it's just a couple hours... We were exhausted at the end, but left smiling, and with a bunch of new friends.
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Unread 08-23-2013, 12:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Hey Rusty - We just did out first KCBS comp a few weeks ago, after about five years of backyard cooking.
Doing a Sam's Club comp as your first event was aiming high, for sure. Finishing 12th was pretty amazing too. Even though you didn't advance, you beat some very good teams. It shows the value of doing the full practice.
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Unread 08-23-2013, 01:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron_L View Post
One of our members, George Hensler, wrote a very good book on getting started in BBQ competitions.

http://amzn.com/1890689149
That's a good place to start
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Unread 08-23-2013, 08:34 PM   #14
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pre-prep everything you can and go as small as possible. it's easy to get overwhelmed if you got alot of strings to chase. get a partner, split the jobs, keep it tight and practice before hand. craigslist is your friend for odds and ends. get alot of gatorade, blankets and bug spray. use competition ready sauces and rubs. have fun!
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Unread 08-24-2013, 12:10 AM   #15
Rusty Kettle
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Now that you mention it... I never have attended a competition. That probably would be a good idea. I plan to buy the book suggested. I hate KC Masterpiece by the way just saying that stuff is nasty. I make my own rub and sauce. I only use one rub and sauce I like them on everything. I love cherry wood for smoking. Not to get off topic. Also what about grills/smokers? What to use? I really love my kettle grills for smoking. I am totally in love with my weber kettles. Is it realistic to expect to compete using them or should I start saving for a better setup? Maybe I should look for a Backyard contest first and then move to pro division towards end of next year or the following season all together. I don't want to finish DAL as you put it. I want to compete and work at it to get to high level. I live just North of Pittsburgh are there any competitions you can recommend attending as a spectator this year? I love kettles but if I can't realistically compete with them what would you recommend for someone just getting started?
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