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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 09-27-2008, 10:37 PM   #1
Ron_L
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Default Consistency

First, I have to say that I am not complaining. We have had a great first season (so far, two to go) and I am happy with our results. However, I am also frustrated at our lack of consistency. I understand the vagaries of judging, but I just can't seem to product consistent results competition after competition. Last week our ribs sucked but our brisket was great, this week our brisket suckd and our ribs were kick a$$. If I ever figure out how to cook even three of the four meats consistently I would be very happy!

So, for those of you who have consistently good results, what can you recommend to me? I'm not shigging for secrets, just looking for some tips (Of course, if you want to give our some secrets, great! My PM box is empty )
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Old 09-27-2008, 11:13 PM   #2
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Delegate. On my team, we have four cooks that each specialize in one thing. We trust each other to do our best, and our results have consistently improved over the years.
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Old 09-28-2008, 12:06 AM   #3
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Glad you brought this up RonL! I'm in the same boat, what I thought was some of my best efforts were my lowest scoring and vice versa. Got calls in every comp entered, but I'm all over the place.

I'd welcome team members or cook with another team if it were that easy.
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Old 09-28-2008, 08:03 AM   #4
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FWIW my thoughts are this, as a few of us were talking about this after rewards yesterday (as I guess you had mentioned it when we were on stage).

They can teach you how to cook bbq in a class. They can't teach consistency. You've maybe cooked 5 or so contests this year and overall? So it won't happen that fast where you all of a sudden 'get it'... Let's face it, your scores might be skewed as well. Maybe you've scored higher because of judging? Look at last weekend in Menomonee. Dr Porkenstein who is a very consistent cook, finished 17th? Why? His meat was on and he does everything the same, week in and week out just as I taught him... lol. But the judges bomb him? Alex cooks everyday in his restaurant. So he knows how to cook. Answer? Judging. We can control everything but them eating our food.

So cook more contests Ron. Don't expect results. Be happy when you get them, but consistency will come with time. How long of a lay-off from the last contest? Maybe you weren't 'on' like you felt? Who knows, but do it like we do and blame it all on the judges... (I'm joking here!!!!)

So be happy Ron. You finished ahead of some seasoned teams. Small steps make a more consistent cook, not leaps. As I strive to be a consistent cook out there. I know the wins will happen if I keep that motto.

Good job on those ribs too!

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Old 09-28-2008, 08:05 AM   #5
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This season I got a first in chix. Went the next week to another comp and did the exact same method with my chix and got 22. I have learned it is all about the judges. Just keep doing what you do.
I have seen the Grand champ one week and the next week not even in the top 10.
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Old 09-28-2008, 08:24 AM   #6
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I agree with Scottie cook more and keep notes the best you can and try to do everything the sametime ( with small adjustments for turn in times) like Meat prep, seasoning, ect. this will help you as well
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Old 09-28-2008, 08:27 AM   #7
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Ron,I cant tell you how to get consistency other then practice a lot at home and hope that you get the right table.As Scotty said Alex cooks everyday and I can tell you that the food he sells at the restaraunt was better than a lot that I have sampled when visiting comps. And you know he gives it more love at a comp.My short experience in comps (3) has been pretty much better then we had a right to hope.But I have not gotten the consistency you seek either.First was a fluke ,second was decent other then the worst brisket I have ever made ,third was good in brisket and pork and my previously most consistent categories were bad.I knew they were bad when I turned them in .I try to do the same thing every cook, shoot for the same feel every time.A friend told me that you are competing against the meat,I havent got that far yet I am still competing against myself.Its just fun to beat somebody once in a while...
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Old 09-28-2008, 08:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottie View Post
FWIW my thoughts are this, as a few of us were talking about this after rewards yesterday (as I guess you had mentioned it when we were on stage).
So you guys were talking about me, huh? Is that what all the laughing was about?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottie View Post
They can teach you how to cook bbq in a class. They can't teach consistency. You've maybe cooked 5 or so contests this year and overall? So it won't happen that fast where you all of a sudden 'get it'... Let's face it, your scores might be skewed as well. Maybe you've scored higher because of judging? Look at last weekend in Menomonee. Dr Porkenstein who is a very consistent cook, finished 17th? Why? His meat was on and he does everything the same, week in and week out just as I taught him... lol. But the judges bomb him? Alex cooks everyday in his restaurant. So he knows how to cook. Answer? Judging. We can control everything but them eating our food.
I hear ya... The class helped a lot but there is a lot to be said for experience. While I understand your point about judging and I see the top cooks have a "bad" day like Alex did at Menomonee, I also see the teams who win consistently (You, Clone, Alex, Pellet Envy, etc.) so I know that it can be done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottie View Post
So cook more contests Ron. Don't expect results. Be happy when you get them, but consistency will come with time. How long of a lay-off from the last contest? Maybe you weren't 'on' like you felt? Who knows, but do it like we do and blame it all on the judges... (I'm joking here!!!!)

So be happy Ron. You finished ahead of some seasoned teams. Small steps make a more consistent cook, not leaps. As I strive to be a consistent cook out there. I know the wins will happen if I keep that motto.
Trust me. I don't expect anything and we are thrilled when we hear our name. As i said in the top post, I'm really not complaining. We're having fun, we're getting calls, and we're making friends (at least I hope we are ). We've cooked 6 comps this year and have two to go. We missed two or three others in the area because of other commitments. Next year I'd like to get to at least 10, but it depends on time and money (doesn't everything?). We've been limiting ourselves to comps that are within about four hours from home to try and avoid having to take extra time off this year since I used a bunch of vacation time on a couple of other trips, but maybe next year we can venture out a little further.
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Old 09-28-2008, 09:02 AM   #9
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Ron i have to agree with scotty. you have know idea what the judge with think at your tablei have cooked all but 2 weekends this summer and i cooked a lot of food. i can make my food the same every time as long as i dont change one thing and i meen one thing.... last week end i know what happend to my food and this week end i know what happend to my food i will not make the same boo boo's again in libertyville. but i am not in my mancave and things are not the in there perfict place we adust
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Old 09-28-2008, 09:20 AM   #10
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Consistency means managing the things that are under our control (meat selections, sauces, rubs, temps, techniques). The one thing that is completly outside our control is judging (please see my new book: "The vaguaries of Judging"). And I don't mean bad judging but, after all, what could be more subjective than what tastes good to someone?

As Tonto says: "any given day, any given table...."

I believe that the other key factor is simply numbers. All of the very top teams cook a lot of competitions - 30 to 40 or more a year. It is a numbers game.
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Old 09-28-2008, 09:22 AM   #11
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Just a thought here and please don't take it wrong, Ron. I am not criticizing you guys or touting any knowledge I have but I read many teams say what you did above: that they are happy to just hear their name at the awards. Maybe that's a part of what's going on in the consistency thing. If I leave a contest and hear our name at 9th in pork and nothing else, I'm not thrilled, happy or anything. That means I've sucked at three categories. And if there are only 30 teams, 9th really isn't that great either. I believe that a lot of the success in anything comes from high expectations and not being satisfied with average results. When I cook average or below, it pisses me off. Sometimes I am sure it's poor judges but after a day or two goes by and I think about it, I've screwed something up myself. I vow that won't happen again. At that point, you have to go out and live up to your own expectations at the next event. This is how I have developed what consistency I have. We're not winning events consistently yet so we're still working on it and I believe making progress, but outside of a couple of stretches of contests, we have a lot of top ten finishes so we're headed in the right direction. We're consistently decent.

EDIT: One other thing and this came from Rod one day when I had lunch with him. I asked him what in his opinion makes the difference between being pretty good at this and winning contests. His answer was a simple one - timing. you have to know what you're going to be doing at any given minute at every contest. Time management. So if someone asks you on a Tuesday afternoon what you're doing at 8:45 AM on Saturday mornings at a BBQ contest, you'd better know. Same thing every time.
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Old 09-28-2008, 10:29 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_in_KC View Post
Just a thought here and please don't take it wrong, Ron. I am not criticizing you guys or touting any knowledge I have but I read many teams say what you did above: that they are happy to just hear their name at the awards. Maybe that's a part of what's going on in the consistency thing. If I leave a contest and hear our name at 9th in pork and nothing else, I'm not thrilled, happy or anything. That means I've sucked at three categories. And if there are only 30 teams, 9th really isn't that great either. I believe that a lot of the success in anything comes from high expectations and not being satisfied with average results. When I cook average or below, it pisses me off. Sometimes I am sure it's poor judges but after a day or two goes by and I think about it, I've screwed something up myself. I vow that won't happen again. At that point, you have to go out and live up to your own expectations at the next event. This is how I have developed what consistency I have. We're not winning events consistently yet so we're still working on it and I believe making progress, but outside of a couple of stretches of contests, we have a lot of top ten finishes so we're headed in the right direction. We're consistently decent.

EDIT: One other thing and this came from Rod one day when I had lunch with him. I asked him what in his opinion makes the difference between being pretty good at this and winning contests. His answer was a simple one - timing. you have to know what you're going to be doing at any given minute at every contest. Time management. So if someone asks you on a Tuesday afternoon what you're doing at 8:45 AM on Saturday mornings at a BBQ contest, you'd better know. Same thing every time.
I think you may have nailed what i am trying to say, Jeff. We're at the point of being consistently decent also. Now i want ot kick it up a notch.

When I said that I am happy to hear our name called, I truly am and I hope that never changes. But, like you, I'm not satisfied with just getting a call and I do leave disappointed. Without sounding like i am bragging, I am decent at a lot of things. I'm a pretty good fisherman, a pretty good cook, pretty good at coffee roasting and even a pretty good barista. So far the only thing I can say that I have reached expert status in is my job (which is where it really counts since it pays for all of the hobbies ). I'd like to get to that level with BBQ comps as well.

Anyway... I understand everyone's points about what happens at the judges table and I have accepted that fact that things are out of my control once the box leaves my site, but there are teams who are a the top of the results list every week and they are facing the same judges that I am (generally speaking). My goal is to make sure that what I put in those boxes is the best that I can produce every time and I'm not there yet, and it bugs me

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EDIT: One other thing and this came from Rod one day when I had lunch with him. I asked him what in his opinion makes the difference between being pretty good at this and winning contests. His answer was a simple one - timing. you have to know what you're going to be doing at any given minute at every contest. Time management. So if someone asks you on a Tuesday afternoon what you're doing at 8:45 AM on Saturday mornings at a BBQ contest, you'd better know. Same thing every time.
My wife already gives me a hard time because I have my cooking schedule in a spreadsheet and have it with us at every comp
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Old 09-28-2008, 11:20 AM   #13
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I hear what you are saying Ron. Our food is pretty good. Last competition we did 5th overall and 4th in pork. But the competiton before we did not do very well. We never have consistent numbers, and I feel we do the same thing every comp. We will see we changed our recipies at our last comp, so we will see how we do in Dover. Hopefully we can have a repeat.
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Old 09-28-2008, 11:30 AM   #14
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To start with keep a log book of what you do each cook, what happened each cook, and don't be tempted to change what you do at all. Then cook as much as you can in competition mode. Those few things will go along way towards a more consistent product especially cooking frequently.
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Old 09-28-2008, 12:23 PM   #15
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To start with keep a log book of what you do each cook, what happened each cook, and don't be tempted to change what you do at all. Then cook as much as you can in competition mode. Those few things will go along way towards a more consistent product especially cooking frequently.
Taking notes on every single cook (practice and comp) has helped me considerably! We've done more practice cooks than comps, but knowing exactly what I've done every cook, and the results, has helped me fine tune things (and I have lots of fine tuning left to do).
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