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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 02-01-2010, 05:33 PM   #1
dmprantz
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Default KCBS Appearence Scoring

I've been holding on to this for some time, since I took my CBJ class at The Jack last year, and I figure now is as good a time as any to bring it out. There is another thread about garnish in this forum right now, but it's already long and I didn't want to intrude into those conversations which appear to be winding down, not to mention that this covers more. I have issues with the KCBS rules regarding appearance and garnish as defined in the KCBS rules and the instructions which judges get.

My first problem is with the use of garnish. I know it is optional. I know some teams don't use it. I know others claim that you can't win without it, so it's always done with painstaking detail. I will use garnish or not as the rules allow, but I don't like it. My biggest complaint is what a judge is supposed to do with garnish: A judge is supposed to ignore the garnish and judge the meat, but the judge has to look at the garnish to make sure it's legal. A judge isn't technically allowed to score up for good garnish, but a judge can score down for bad garnish, and even though it is optional and not to cause a score up, many people seem to think that is ignored. I think the rules are very complex and should be simplified: Treat garnish like sauce. Keep it optional, but allow it to be judged as part of the dish. That's my thought on the matter. The other option, of course, is to get rid of it entirely, and I wouldn't complain at that, but if it's going to stay, does any one else think it makes sense to stop telling judges to both ignore and score it at the same time? And what's so wrong with allowing a much wider array of greens?

My other issue with this is the entire appearance score. If you notice, I've called it appearance, because that's what's in the 2009 KCBS rules. To me, the appearance of BBQ means how much do you want to eat that. Does that sound wrong to any one? More times than not though, when I've discussed this with other teams and heard it discussed, people mention presentation, as in how is the meat presented to you. Are the pieces uniform? Were the ends of the brisket cut to fit the box? Are all pieces the exact same size and shape? Does the meat jump out at you from the "garnish" and scream "Eat Me?" Was the pork arranged in a nice circle that was appealing to the eye? These presentation types of judging sound more like plating than what I would consider appearance of the meat. All the while, judges are told to ignore smoke rings. Created with TenderQuick or not, smoke rings make the meat look better! Bark can be enhanced with chemicals, yet judges look at that, don't they? Can some one point to exactly what judges are supposed to look for when they judge "appearance?" Unfortunately, I don't think there's any rule changes to be made here. It's impossible to say that you must ignore symmetry and random piles of pulled pork over organized presentations. I do think there are a few things that the BOD should consider though, and I'd like to offer some suggestions:

1) Spell out in the rule book somewhere what constitutes a good appearance score. Is it how appetizing the meat looks, or how well it is plated, or is it both? If it's already spelled out, please point it out to me, as I miss things somewhere. Whatever the case is, make it plain and easy to understand.

2) Perform much, much, much, much better training in the CBJ area around this issue. As I said, I took a class within the past six months, appearance scoring was not mentioned much. We were told to look for things like rotten greens and sloppy sauce, but at the same time told "if it looks like something you'd wanna eat...." I think the appearance score should be more cleanly defined and taught.

3) Require that all judges for sanctioned contests over the next year or so have this drilled into their heads. Make sure people pay attention during the CD playing and that reps repeat it. This also goes into the category of continuing education for CBJs. I think there is too much ambiguity out there for what constitutes a good appearance.

So there. Those are my thoughts as both a CBJ and a competitor. I'd like to do well at contests, but I think the rules regarding the use of garnish are inconsistent and difficult to enforce, and the appearance category is weakly defined. Unfortunately, I fear that the people on this forum who do well in contests will largely chime in and say "I like it the way it is (because I win)" but what do you all think? Is it unreasonable to not so much change rules, but disambiguate and clarify them?

dmp
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Unread 02-01-2010, 06:06 PM   #2
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"To me, the appearance of BBQ means how much do you want to eat that."

I would guess a non-garnished box would make your mouth water a little less. There is a lot the garnish can hide to make the food look more appealing. Think of food commercials. Most make the food look great then you order it and the appeal is gone.

We used to use lettuce. I thought the boxes looked good and we would score in the 7-9 range. Well, all parsley and now we are consistently 8-9 because the box looks better. I felt it was one thing I could improve on, just like improving on the meats.

There are so many good competitors out there that this is a detail that if overlooked or you get lazy on it could be the difference in winning and losing.
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Unread 02-01-2010, 07:47 PM   #3
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I think it would be interesting to hear from some of the competitiors. When you get your scores do you find a wide range on your appearance score or do the judges usually agree within a point? keith
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Unread 02-01-2010, 07:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buster Dog BBQ View Post
I would guess a non-garnished box would make your mouth water a little less.
You mixed issues. The quote about how much you want to eat it was in deference to uniformity of individual pieces: Having everything trimmed down, to the exact same shape, smoke ring, sauce smudges, and whatever else, all without instructions to look at that from a CBJ instructor or KCBS itself. My biggest complaint about greenery is that that judges are supposed to look at it for the potential to DQ or score down but not score up, and then seem to end up scoring up anyway if it's there.

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Unread 02-01-2010, 08:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobow View Post
I think it would be interesting to hear from some of the competitiors. When you get your scores do you find a wide range on your appearance score or do the judges usually agree within a point? keith
This weekend in Lakeland I made 4 putting greens that were all as close to perfect as I can get. My meat all looked spot on, IMO. Prettiest boxes I've ever made, absolutely no reason they shouldn't have been straight 9s. I've done over 130 contests which equates to over 500 boxes built. Appearance scores were:
Chicken - 999978
Ribs - 999998
Pork - 688899
Brisket - 899789
I can live with and understand the occasional 8, but the 7's and 6, no way. OK, rant over.
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Unread 02-01-2010, 08:17 PM   #6
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This is just my thought on appearance: A 9 means that I want to grab the box out of the Table Captain's hand and dig in right now . I judge down from there.
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Unread 02-01-2010, 08:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmprantz View Post
You mixed issues. The quote about how much you want to eat it was in deference to uniformity of individual pieces: Having everything trimmed down, to the exact same shape, smoke ring, sauce smudges, and whatever else, all without instructions to look at that from a CBJ instructor or KCBS itself. My biggest complaint about greenery is that that judges are supposed to look at it for the potential to DQ or score down but not score up, and then seem to end up scoring up anyway if it's there.

dmp
But if 7 is considered average then why couldn't they score up?

Are the judges really supposed to be looking for DQ reasons? That was not taught in my CBJ class.
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Unread 02-01-2010, 08:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buster Dog BBQ View Post
But if 7 is considered average then why couldn't they score up?

Are the judges really supposed to be looking for DQ reasons? That was not taught in my CBJ class.
I think what he's saying is that the only thing you can do in regard to garish specifically to the KCBS rules is to either 1) ignore or 2) DQ in the case where the proper garnish wasn't used or was used for "marking/sculpting".

Other than that, there's nothing a judge is instructed to do with greens.
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Unread 02-01-2010, 08:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plowboy View Post
I think what he's saying is that the only thing you can do in regard to garish specifically to the KCBS rules is to either 1) ignore or 2) DQ in the case where the proper garnish wasn't used or was used for "marking/sculpting".

Other than that, there's nothing a judge is instructed to do with greens.
Exactly. Judges are told to judge the meat, not the garnish, which means you aren't supposed to score up from a good garnish, but if the garnish is illegal or rotten, you can score down. :(

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Unread 02-01-2010, 08:56 PM   #10
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thanks for clarifying. My bad.
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Unread 02-01-2010, 10:11 PM   #11
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And what about smoke rings? Judges aren't suppose to factor them in either.

















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Unread 02-01-2010, 10:21 PM   #12
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did someone say parsley?
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Unread 02-01-2010, 10:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rub View Post
This weekend in Lakeland I made 4 putting greens that were all as close to perfect as I can get. My meat all looked spot on, IMO. Prettiest boxes I've ever made, absolutely no reason they shouldn't have been straight 9s. I've done over 130 contests which equates to over 500 boxes built. Appearance scores were:
Chicken - 999978
Ribs - 999998
Pork - 688899
Brisket - 899789
I can live with and understand the occasional 8, but the 7's and 6, no way. OK, rant over.
Lakeland was my first KCBS competition. My scores were crazy over all categories. I admit my boxes could have used some work but what I cannot understand is how I could get 999776 on brisket taste. Since I am new to the comp circuit my emphasis will be working on consistent taste scores, then I will worry more about the appearance. But I understand you brother and your rant.
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Unread 02-01-2010, 10:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KC_Bobby View Post
And what about smoke rings? Judges aren't suppose to factor them in either....
I see the smileys, but I think I covered that. I think it's silly to not consider them when judging appearance, but one thing at a time.

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Unread 02-01-2010, 11:19 PM   #15
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Oh yes - sorry I guess my mind must have been wondering by that point.

How about strips of bacon garnish? (I just saw a commercial for Beggin Strips)
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