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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 11-26-2008, 06:21 PM   #1
HBMTN
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Default Team Members and duties/roles at competitions

I was wondering how many people you all have on your teams and sort of how you disperse duties and or responsabilities at competitions? I want to put together a more organized team than I had this past year which was my first year and we did two comps.

Here is how things went: Pretty much I did all organizing, calling and prep work for the competitions. Smoker and all supplies were mine and all weekend supplies and meats were purchased by me. This is my endevor and the others were sort of along for the good time and to help where thay could. I started out by asking four friends to be a part of the team with my wife and I (6). Then everyone wanted to bring wives and everything which was no problem for me. THEN they wanted to bring thier two 30ft campers. So I spent a lot of time calling competitions contact to see if they could accomodate which was a lot of trouble on my part. I make it work and we are off to the competitions!

At the contests I have pretty much done most all of the cooking, stayed up all night. I have two guy who alternate staying up with me so I am not lonely and I have one other who cooks pretty good chicken so I let him do chicken. My wife is the runner and does the garnishes and helps me plate up. I ended up with a LOT more opinions than I sometimes wanted about how to cook things ( all but one have never cooked bbq in thier lives ) which caused some tension. The one I let cook chicken now thinks he is the CEO of our team in the chicken dept and thinks he makes all decisions about chicken. I have one guy who really wants to be a good team player but I have not found the role he fits in yet ( he has no cooking experience and had trouble manning the fire ).

2009 season thoughts, My wife does a great job to make up my second team mate, she is one I can turn to and say I need this and it gets done she is team mate #2, I have a sister in-law who would be perfect to bring on board the team she would love to spend 10 hours stareing at lettuce and parsley and do an awsome job in the appearance dept. plating, she will be team mate #3. I will be loosing two members this year due to circumstances. One of which is my chicken guy head ache! I want to find a place for the guy above who I have not found a talent yet he will be team mate #4. At this point that is my team with variuos people filling the role of #5 and 6 if they want to come along until I find an asset worth making a permanent team mate.

How do some of you all handle team member roles? Also I should add that I pay for everything and I keep all winnings the others get a free, fun good eating weekend. I read in a bbq book that there should be a chief and some indians on a bbq team and all indians should know who the chief is. I want it to be fun but I am serious about this, I can party at home much cheaper if you know what I mean. What are your thought?
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Unread 11-26-2008, 08:02 PM   #2
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I have found that less is more. My stress level goes down with less teamates around.
My wife and I do everything 90% of the time.

We made a schedule for each of our teamates for 2008 to bring non comp food. (ex. Billy Bob brings dinner friday night for the whole team, and Jimmy John brings Breakfast for saturday). You would not believe how much this will thin the herd!
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Unread 11-26-2008, 08:31 PM   #3
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Less is definately more!

Our team started out with 15 members + spouses + everyone else we knew there for the party. What a cluster, but boy did we have fun (especially when we were sponsored by a beer distributor and running a cash bar.) We started into this in MIM competitions for our hometown contest back in '96.

Over the years as we got more dedicated to the competitive side of the event the team dwindled down to 6 core members. For the last couple of years our focus shifted to KCBS contests and the core group is down to 3+ a spouse or two. Sometimes the three of us are too many. This year we have only cooked together once, but different combinations of two of us cooked together 5 times.

Big teams lead to big headaches, there are always the friction of who is in charge of what, who does what and who is freeloading.

YMMV!
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Unread 11-26-2008, 09:09 PM   #4
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Great thread and advice.

My wife and I discussed last year about maybe cooking at some contests a little further away to reduce the number of people visiting and wanting to "help". I'm not good at telling people not to come out and visit but at times, I wish it was just me and my wife or me by myself or maybe one other person (either brother, friend or brother-in-law). It's good to have someone help set up, tear down and lend a hand when you need it. At last year's contest it was so crazy with visitors and friends and family it seemed like work and wasn't as fun as the previous couple of years. I know that it came down to too many people hanging around. At times, it was hard to focus on what I was doing. I should say that having help around was nice when we were trying to get things put away before the big storm hit.

I asked a friend to cook ribs a couple of years ago and now I consider him part of the team, but now I would prefer to do the cooking solo. I'm not going to kick him off the team because that isn't right to ask for his help when I need it and then kick him to the curb when I don't. If he opts out, then I'll let him out, but then it's my team completely.

I know what you are talking about when you say people are giving you advice about how to cook even though they don't cook, aren't KCBS judges and I've been cooking all summer practicing. It can make you very tense!
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Unread 11-26-2008, 09:47 PM   #5
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Hey Matt,

We use 2 team members and split everything 50/50 and it has worked out well. On occassion we may have a third person to help with things like running turn ins and handing us stuff. Vern helped us last year at the Royal. I know what you are saying about having too many friends and family around, we welcome them on Friday up till about 10 and then again after turn ins on Sat. For the same reason you brought up, that is why we did not cook the Ankeny contest last year, too many locals we know would just drop by at all the wrong times. When we do other contests further away we don't have that problem. We also split the cooking duties, Bob does chicken and pork I do ribs and brisket. Bob also helps alot with the finer details of preparing the boxes, so they are just right. This has seemed to work for us, no blood shed yet.
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Unread 11-27-2008, 05:59 AM   #6
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At our first comp I did most of the work and just as yourself I took on the role of finding the funds, gear, food etc. Granted it was all my idea I'm cool with that.

When I asked the first guy to be a team member (Mark) we both laughed and sorted out what had to be done right then and there as we sat having a drink at the pub. He laughed and said he didn't know anything about this sort of Q but has a unhealthy love of fire so he decided to be the driver and gained the title of ' transportation & manager fire keeper"

Cliff the second member loves to eat and wants to learn about Q plus he hold his own in the kitchen. He was granted the title of " shout and I'll do my best otherwise I'll be over here watching and learning guy". This guy did most of the gofer stuff like finding water, washing dishes, making coffee, and keeping us fed as we drank and worked through the night.

My wife and kids are also members they take care of the running, box arranging and keeping the 'bring along guest' occupied. They are also in charge of deserts and catching daddy missing a step.


Turns out Everyone stepped up and Mark became an invaluable part of us getting through the contest. He made himself the official time keeper, something I didn't think of and saw to it we got everything in on time by calling the time/ countdown left to deadline. Mark also set up sleeping shifts when he noticed I was starting to slip a bit.

Things worked out very well and we had a great time , that pay off was we snatched the GC first time out.

All in all I think it's important to select people you know will step up, are free thinkers and will save your backside.

Now here is what I did with the guest. When it came time for turning in the sauce category I ran a sample through my team and let them decide what they liked best out of the three I chose. At that point Cliff sent samples over to our guest/ friends via my kids and had them give an opinion on what tasted best. They chose the sauce that took first place and no it wouldn't have been my selection to enter so that was a good idea on his part.

We went there to win first of all and to have fun doing so. Get those two things in the right order and the game is yours.
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Unread 11-27-2008, 06:21 AM   #7
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I learned a valuble lesson this year when my nephews friend showed up. Nice guy sober, idiot when drunk. Because of my nephew and his friend the rules have changed. It is invite only at our site. I mean not to just stop by, but nobody can stay at our site unless they follow instuctions I set. It is easy to learn. I am the chief cook, and whatever I say is the rule. Easy. If you do not like that rule, give me $800 and you can be chief that weekend.
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Unread 11-27-2008, 08:29 AM   #8
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My wife and I are the team but once and a while my sons and daughter help out but you know it is just us. So less is more but I do like the help and I never turn down help and if anyone wants to hang out and learn come on over. but don't pout if you don't get to get real messy there is a lot of clean up. hahaha oh and I will feed you.
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Unread 11-27-2008, 11:11 AM   #9
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It's just me and my wife. we share set up and tear down, I prep and cook all the meat. She makes sure I have the tools I need when I need them, preps the boxes, cleans and runs the boxes. Sometimes we feel we could use a third person to make sure we eat, help pack up and take pictures. Problem is I'd want a non-bbq type so I don't hear conflicting opinions. (Or do I want a BBQ person I could learn from??)
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Unread 11-27-2008, 12:30 PM   #10
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I have trouble finding anyone that wants to help me the say I'm to bossy, But then again when I'm paying for everything I will be bossy. LOL
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Unread 11-27-2008, 01:41 PM   #11
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We usually only have two team members. We sometimes have three. Two is perfect. We do bring a stragller or two with us and they hang out but when it comes to turn in, stand with the spectators. We have a blast. Our first comp, we had fifteen people and it was way too much. I will stick with two or three.
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Unread 11-27-2008, 04:44 PM   #12
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we have three couples. I'm head cook and do pork and brisket, one guy do's chicken and the other do's ribs i still over see everything we turn in my wife do's the box's and desert's, the chicken guys wife cleans as needed and the rib guys wife watches the kids. we all chip in on cost for entries.
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Unread 11-27-2008, 04:51 PM   #13
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When I first started the partner I had was...................
Anyways, after the last comp of the season they were never asked to return.
Next season:
I luckily teamed up with fellow Brethern, Brian in So Cal, and man what a great decision that was. He is a great person to have on your team. He pays his fair share, does his share of the work, and keeps me laughing days after the contest ends. Brian and I also recruited a good friend of mine to be the everything but the cook. He cleans, keeps us in line, straightens things out, and puts up with us, all in exchange for some Q when its over.
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Unread 11-27-2008, 07:20 PM   #14
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We have two head cooks. VQ's standard line is that my job is to make it taste good, and his job is not to fark it up.

We've settled into a rough division of jobs, but have done cross-training and can fill in for each other in a lot of places. I make the rubs and wets, VQ cooks sauce. I stock the boxes, he buys and trims meat. I do the first part of meat prep on all the meats, he finishes up with the second stage. He does fire management, I do turn-in box prep. We need four hands while glazing ribs and chicken, so we've perfected a little choreographed ballet with lid-lifting, brushing and moving meat distributed between us. We assemble the turn-ins together -- he slices, I choose pieces and stage the box, and I run while he re-stages the work area for the next meat.

I can't think of many decisions either of us have made without input from the other. We don't change the flavor profile, or the cook method, or adjust times, or anything without discussion. Sometimes just the process of bouncing ideas around shakes out what we really need to do.

Most importantly, working together in such an intense way has really "settled us into harness", so to speak. We have to be incredibly focused and disciplined to accomplish with two people what other teams have the luxury of doing with four or a dozen, and it's been good for us. If we were to add anyone, it would be catering crew to feed us (we suck at that), and roadies to do packing/unpacking, although we've found that miracles can be accomplished by waving a ten-spot at a preteen.
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Unread 11-28-2008, 06:20 PM   #15
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We have three excellent pitmasters who are capable of doing anything, plus one or two non-cooks that are great for clean-up, heaving lifting and general gopher work. The three of us have settled into dividing labor based on what each guy's is strongest at and/or enjoys the most:
  • Johnny - ancillaries, building rib and brisket boxes
  • Warren - garnish, running boxes, cooking for the team
  • Gowan - trimming raw meat, building chicken and pork boxes
Anything not listed above is handled by whoever isn't otherwise occupied at the time. I think the key to success is building a team of compatible personalities. That doesn't necessarily mean folks that are alike, but rather people that can work together without a clash of egos. A head cook who needs to control all aspects of all the entries won't be able to tolerate much in the way of teammates who want to make their own contribution. I've seen several such personalities cook solo, but I've also seen teams made up of four strong individuals where each acted as a head cook to a single category.
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