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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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Old 09-07-2008, 11:03 AM   #1
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Join Date: 08-11-03
Location: Coldwater, MS (just south of Memphis)
Default Our First Comp (very long)

First, let me start off by saying that while I have competed before in the MBA circuit as part of a large team, this was the first time to be responsible for more than grill tending and pulling the meat to give to the judges. It was an eye-opener, that's for sure.

And no, this wasn't an MBA/MBN comp or the AR or the Jack. Heck, it wasn't even a sanctioned contest but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. It was the Tate County Fair BBQ Contest and me and my buddy Doug (DC) decided we'd see what we could do. It was setup like an MBN contest but no onsite judging and the categories were chicken, pork and ribs. No garnish was allowed either but you could turn in sauce with your entry. We tried coming up with a name but in the end we used the one my wife and I had come up with a couple of years back, Perfect Smoke. It seemed to fit. He concentrated on Ribs (WSM), I concentrated on Chicken (Weber Kettle) and we both did the Pork (on the Drum Cooker). But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Now we're both pretty good cooks but as you all know, having your friends and family tell you that is one thing. Having a total stranger score your food is something entirely different. Once we decided we wanted to throw our hat in the ring, we spent several weekends ahead of this cooking to get our times and flavor profiles perfected. I know Doug went through a couple dozen racks of ribs and I did well over a hundred thighs trying to get it right. The neighborhood was well fed, that's for sure. We weren't even thinking about the pork at that point. Heck, I hadn't even finished the drum smoker yet and didn't start the first fire in it until the weekend before the comp. So now that we got the meat pretty much under control, we started thinking about our camp.

Since we both camp, we had pretty much everything we needed except a shelter and a couple of tables. I looked at 10x10 EZ-Up's, Caravans and FirstUps and then the 10x20 carports as well. I decided on the 10x10 EZ-Up and borrowed a buddy's 10x10 FirstUp. While the FirstUp did it's job, I think we'll pick up another EZ-Up to use next time. Easier to put up, easier to take down.

We arrived Friday afternoon, setup camp and found out that there were 10 teams total. Nothing huge but this was only their second year and it was a significant increase from the 4 teams last year. We got tucked away in a back corner away from all the hustle and bustle and I think we had a pretty good setup. We got the meat inspected and then went to work on prepping. After that, met a few of our neighbors and just kinda relaxed waiting for 9P to roll around. While we had our down time though, we made a couple of Flat Iron steaks and fully load baked taters for dinner. I'll let Doug post about those Flat Iron steaks since he introduced me to them. We definately ate like kings that night.

At 9P, we fired up the drum and figured we'd just be able to sit back and watch it go. Not so. That thing was all over the place as far as temps. Sometimes it would be steady at 225, other times it would dip down to 175 and then up to 275. It was a rocky road for the Boston Butt, that's for sure. If nothing else, it did occupy our time and keep us from getting bored. The rest of the night was good though and we fired up the WSM and the Kettle in the morning and put the ribs and chicken on.

At this point, our help (wives and kids) showed up and it dawned on us that the 1P turnin wasn't that far away. I will say this. I had planned on having timelines and taking good notes and it just didn't happen. The one thing that I'm really glad we brought along was the clock we hung up. It definately helped being able to look up and see where you were on time.

Chicken was first and I wasn't that impressed with it. Since the skin had been so rubbery in the past, I decided I'd smoke it for 2 hours and then take the skin off and go the rest of the time skinless so it wouldn't put tanlines on the meat. It wasn't the worst I've ever had but it sure wasn't the best either. So 1P rolls around and the chicken is away.

Next up are ribs. Doug pulls them off and they look good. Right at the point between not done and falling off the bone. Good flavor and all, just need to put a final little shine on them so the look good in the box and away they go.

And finally the pork, it pulled like a dream considering all the trouble we had with it. Perfect little pieces were coming off and we weren't having any problems filling the box with chunks of all the good parts.

So now we're waiting on first round results. I might want to explain the rules here. The way this was going to work is that the 1st place winners in each category would be awarded and then they would go head to head for the Grand. Seemed a little strange to me that you would pit chicken, pork and ribs against each other but it wasn't comparative judging, it was all about the scoring numbers.

So we see the organizer walk out and figure he's telling someone they're in the chicken finals. After that he doesn't walk out for a while and then he walks over our way telling us to get ready, we made the finals for pork. So what happened to ribs? The same guy that won chicken, won ribs too. Little bit of a confidence killer but hey, we still had a butt in reserve and we were ready to pull it.

So we turned our final box in and started tearing down camp waiting for awards. We knew we'd at least walk for pork but the Grand was up in the air. Tired? Yep, but I'll say it again. It was a good time and I definately look forward to our next one.

We walked to the arena and saw the chicken/rib winner (Old Man Ribber) take his walk and then we took ours for pork. So we're sitting there and honestly, I didn't think we'd take the Grand but when I heard Perfect Smoke, I was a little shocked. But then I remember getting the biggest sheet-eatin grin on my face. Will we win everytime? Nope. But all we can do is make the best product we can and take our chances like everybody else. What's that phrase?.....any given Sunday. Win or lose, it was a good time. We'd do it again and will do the one next year, even if it isn't sanctioned.

And it was a good precursor to a KCBS event. We did everything we would have had to do.....except brisket. And we're working on that. So for you first timers wondering whether you can do a comp or not, I hope our experience helps you make your decision. And to the seasoned vets, I now have a much better understanding of what it takes to do this sport/hobby/obsession that we love so much.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Camp1.jpg (122.3 KB, 216 views)
File Type: jpg Camp2.jpg (143.3 KB, 212 views)
File Type: jpg Camp3.jpg (90.5 KB, 212 views)
File Type: jpg ChickenTurnIn.jpg (68.4 KB, 212 views)
File Type: jpg RibTurnIn.jpg (71.5 KB, 213 views)
File Type: jpg PorkTurnIn.jpg (86.4 KB, 211 views)
File Type: jpg FirstWalk.jpg (112.5 KB, 210 views)

Perfect Smoke BBQ Team
Pork Me Baby BBQ Team
Coldwater, MS (just south of Memphis)

KCBS CBJ #7595
NB Bandera Mod E
Custom Drum Smoker
18" Weber Smoky Mountain
Weber Kettle One Touch Silver
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Old 09-07-2008, 11:09 AM   #2
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Sounds as though you had a fun and rewarding time.

The best way to reach me is with email: larry@thebbqgrail.com
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Old 09-07-2008, 11:10 AM   #3
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That's absolutely fantastic Richie !!!

The meat in those boxes look killer too !!!

Hopefully, we'll be reading a lot more about Perfect Smoke.
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Old 09-07-2008, 11:13 AM   #4
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Congrats Richie! Awesome 1st head cook experience! I'm happy for you and your team! Keep it up!
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Old 09-07-2008, 11:19 AM   #5
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Congratulations to you and Team Perfect Smoke....Way to go!!!
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Old 09-07-2008, 11:20 AM   #6
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Great job, guys! The food looks great!

What did you put on the grass under your canopies? it looks like a rubber mat of some sort?
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Old 09-07-2008, 11:24 AM   #7
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Location: Cleveland, OH

Congrats. and thanks for the play by play......was good reading....
Them Ohio City Boys BBQ Competition Team
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Old 09-07-2008, 11:29 AM   #8
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Join Date: 08-11-03
Location: Coldwater, MS (just south of Memphis)

Originally Posted by Ron_L View Post
What did you put on the grass under your canopies? it looks like a rubber mat of some sort?
Ron.....that's 2 sections of old conveyor belt that's 5' wide and 20' long. There was rain in the forecast and we wanted to be prepared. Even though it didn't rain, it worked out good and has become part of "camp".

Perfect Smoke BBQ Team
Pork Me Baby BBQ Team
Coldwater, MS (just south of Memphis)

KCBS CBJ #7595
NB Bandera Mod E
Custom Drum Smoker
18" Weber Smoky Mountain
Weber Kettle One Touch Silver
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Old 09-07-2008, 11:37 AM   #9
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Join Date: 04-02-07
Location: Warren, Vermont

Great write up and great results.
Jim - Another transplanted Texan

Large and Medium Big Green Eggs , Black 18.5" WSM, Blue Weber Performer - Stainless, Green Weber OTG Kettle , Brinkmann SnP Pro, and a Stainless UDS. One retired Portable Kitchen grill.

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Old 09-07-2008, 11:47 AM   #10
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Awesome Richie! GC first time out!
Wait! Bigmista wrote a cookbook?

Exodus 29:18
Then burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the LORD.

God loves BBQ!

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Old 09-07-2008, 12:10 PM   #11
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It's going to be hard to top that kind of a first outing, now isn't it?!
Don't practice until you get it right; practice until you can't get it wrong.
Don't overthink or undercook.

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Old 09-07-2008, 12:43 PM   #12
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Great job! Food looked great too!
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Old 09-07-2008, 12:53 PM   #13
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Way to go. That ought to have you ready for all the KCBS contests coming up in N MS in October

How y'all are? I'm glad you got to see me I guarontee Justin Wilson 4/24/1914 - 09/05/2001
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Old 09-07-2008, 03:52 PM   #14
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WTG, congrats on your experience.

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Old 09-07-2008, 06:49 PM   #15
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Congrats, Richie! Nice job!
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