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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 01-23-2010, 10:34 AM   #1
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Default People's Choice question

Ok, we are going to have a People’s Choice at our next comp. We have never done a People’s Choice and so we don’t really know the best way to go about putting this together. We also want to have a Cook’s Choice on Friday night where the Judges,( our sponsors), go to your cook site and sample your choice of food. We are uncertain as to whether we allow the cooks to bring pre-prepared food for this category or not. Since Friday is the day, evening that the cookers show up, we don’t know if they would have enough time to BBQ something for this event or not. We were told that if we allow the cooks to bring pre-prepared food, some might go buy the food and enter that instead of preparing the food themselves. Now, if we have the Cooks’ Choice on Friday night, the People’s Choice would be for Saturday. We have got some suggestions that we provide a couple of pork butts for the cooks to BBQ and include a chicken wing category and the cooks provide the wings if they want to enter that class. We are thinking we will have the turn in for the People’s Choice around 10: AM so that it will not interfere with the four main turn-in classes. We need suggestions on how to set up the People’s Choice category. How many people does it take to pull this off? We know we need someone to take the money from the public and give them a chip to use as their choice, but how many samples does each person get to try? How do we keep track of making sure each cooker gets the same number of people trying their entry? How many people do we use to hand out these samples? I am sorry this post is so long. Any help and suggestions on these two events would be greatly appreciated.
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Unread 01-23-2010, 12:38 PM   #2
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Many of the So Cal contests have had a People's Choice component for the past several years. It's extremely popular with the public, and I think, will ensure public support for your event in future editions. It's a win for the public, a win for the sponsors, and a win for the teams.

I don't know about your local health department (from here referred to as HD) regulations, but that's the first place to start. In California, it's enforced on a county by county level, I don't know about Kansas. People at the HD are used to dealing with restaurant chefs who already have a background with food safety, so if you don't already have your ServSafe certification, I'd advise you to get one. That way, you'll be speaking their language and they'll feel more at ease in giving you a permit. If you go in knowing nothing about the food safety laws they enforce, they won't give you the time of day. It's not their job to teach you this stuff, there are schools across the country that do. For about $125, you can take a one day class with test at the end for your food handler's cert.


Ask what requirements the HD has for a one time event where teams mostly don't have a HD department license will be selling food to the public. Requirements for a one time event are a little different from a permanent outdoor kitchen, or an outdoor kitchen that's used on a semi-regular basis. Those setups have stricter requirements for plumbing and flooring and such.

If you have a ServSafe certification and have passed your food handling manager test, this stuff should be familiar. Out here, there are some other requirement for an outdoor kitchen:
Enclosed tent for the prep area, with screens to keep out insects (pop up ten with screens are ok)
Ground covering (plastic sheeting is ok)
Three basin sink with hot water for dish washing. Santizing basin will be tested for proper strength with test strips.
Separate hand wash basin with hot water and soap
Cold food stored below 40F
Cooked food held above 141F
Food storage containers including coolers must be at least 6" off the ground.
Food handlers wearing disposable gloves
to name a few

Some contest organizers have provided a food prep tent that teams can share. At other events, each team participating in PC must have their own setups. Getting sides for your tent, a ground tarp, etc, isn't much of an expense if you think about it. The HD sends inspectors to the event and each team will be inspected. Work with your HD and ask if they can finish inspection before 11am on Saturday's crunch time, or else you'll have some pissed off teams and a pissed off inspector. Remember, the inspectors do spot inspections at restaurants unannounced, and they're accustomed to drop in during lunch service and disrupting a restaurant chef's busy time. Let them know if they pull that at a contest, they're asking for a fist fight from amateur cooks whose aren't beholden to a health department shutdown.

Once you get past this stage, make clear to your teams the HD requirements, because the first time we did PC, many of the teams weren't clear on it, and there was a significant amount of skepticism and pushback. Once we got past our first PC event, teams were very much supportive of the experience.

The way we do it, the teams are selling off the leftover contest meat, and following the usual timelines for contest turn-ins. If you make me cook meat for a separate 10am turn in, you're forcing me to cook a separate batch of meat on a different timeline than my contest meat, and I won't participate in your PC contest. KEEP THIS AS SIMPLE AS YOU CAN FOR THE COOKS.

The teams have the option to cook extra meat for PC if they have the room, but it's not required. Some contest organizers are 501(c) charities, and they get meat suppliers to donate pork butts and briskets to the event. The event organizer then gives this meat to the teams that have cooker space with the express purpose of selling it for the PC contest.

The public buys sample tickets at a desk ($10 for 5 sample tickets, and they can buy as many as they want in $10 increments). They are given one more ticket of a different color for their PC vote per each $10 buy. The tickets are sold at designated (multiple, conveniently located) tents so teams aren't touching both food and money.

The teams taking part in PC have an official event sign at their tents (WITH THE TEAM NAMES ON IT), and the public walks from team to team for their taste. It's also a chance for the team to interact with the public, and put on a show. Friendly trash talking between teams, and "selling" your food is part of the experience that the public loves. My team's won 6 PC championships, and it's also part of the fun for us too.

We use 2 oz samples of meat, served in either a plastic cup (like the type used to hold sauces at a restaurant, or a little paper "boat"). They pay for the food with those tickets, which the team collects. The team keeps count of those tickets and returns them to the organizer later to collect their money.

The money split is entirely up to you, but generally, the team earns $1, and the organizer earns $1 for each ticket. The tax implications of that money are a separate matter, and you should talk to your tax adviser about how to handle that.

Regarding the PC vote ticket: the public gives their ticket to their favorite team, who turns them in with the money tickets at the end of the day. Just make clear to the public, the teams, and all your event volunteers how both sets of tickets are going to work (where they're sold, how they're turned in, what time the PC sales end, what time PC votes end, what time the tickets have to be turned in). We have contests where nobody is told anything, and we all look like idiots because the organizer didn't share this info at the cook's meeting, or the volunteer's meeting.

We have a tradition of a Friday night cook's potluck. It's not a contest, just a good social event. I personally have too much work to do to worry about yet another competition on Friday.

Any team that puts in an honest effort at PC should make back their expenses, and that's the incentive for the teams that don't consistently finish in the top 5.
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Unread 01-23-2010, 04:37 PM   #3
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PC contest out here in the Midwest are a little more simple, usually come in two shapes.

Both of them the contest provides the meat (get it donated)

1. Have each team cook up 1 or 2 PB and turn those into a central location at a set time (usually 10 to 11) so the public can eat it for lunch on Sat. Voting is usually by ticket at this central location and is more of a good way for the public to vote.

2. Have the teams serve up "food" on site. Again a donated PB or even Brisket works. This gets to be more of a challenge as teams will give away sides, etc anything to get a vote (even saw Alcohol from one team). It's more of a crap shoot, and usually won by a local team with a LOT of supporters and they vote for themselves.

I like to enter them (we've won a couple) but the challenge is timing. I know well that the public wants to taste good Q, but you have to figure out a way that the teams that want to can participate.

If it impacts my contest preps/timing, I'll probably not do it.

2.
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Unread 01-23-2010, 05:51 PM   #4
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[QUOTE=SmokinOkie;1154416]PC contest out here in the Midwest are a little more simple, usually come in two shapes.

Both of them the contest provides the meat (get it donated)

1. Have each team cook up 1 or 2 PB and turn those into a central location at a set time (usually 10 to 11) so the public can eat it for lunch on Sat. Voting is usually by ticket at this central location and is more of a good way for the public to vote.

Thank you for the input on the People's Choice set-up. After the cooks turn in the pork butts that were given to them, how is the table set up for the public to taste each cookers BBQ? Do we let them taste every entry and then choose who they think is best? Thanks again
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Unread 01-23-2010, 06:39 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=Babyboomerboy;1154503]
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokinOkie View Post
PC contest out here in the Midwest are a little more simple, usually come in two shapes.

Both of them the contest provides the meat (get it donated)

1. Have each team cook up 1 or 2 PB and turn those into a central location at a set time (usually 10 to 11) so the public can eat it for lunch on Sat. Voting is usually by ticket at this central location and is more of a good way for the public to vote.

Thank you for the input on the People's Choice set-up. After the cooks turn in the pork butts that were given to them, how is the table set up for the public to taste each cookers BBQ? Do we let them taste every entry and then choose who they think is best? Thanks again
The times I've seen this work best, the public payed a small amout (one
was $1, another was higher; $5 I think) to purchase 1 plate of BBQ.
The plate was logically divided into quadrants. Each quadrant had a
number; the number of the team they'd vote for. The Q associated with
that team was put on the plate; a fairly good sized portion. That way
each person was able to judge 4 BBQ's. If they were hungry, they'd
pay another $1 and get another plate, perhaps of 4 other Q's, and
have another vote...
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Unread 01-23-2010, 07:48 PM   #6
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From a cook's perspective i am less likely to participate in extra categories if they are on Saturday. They get in the way of the real reason i am there. I prefer those to be on Friday evening when I have time without impacting my competition timeline.

I like the blind people's choice that Smokin'Okie mentioned for a couple of reasons. It levels the field to just the food, and it keeps people from going overboard with "extras" around the food. At one local comp we were given pork tenderloins to cook for the PC and all teams but one cooked that. The other team served a full buffet with pork tenderloin, biscuits and desserts. they also had girls in skimpy black outfits on stripper poles serving the food. Guess who won.
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Unread 01-24-2010, 08:04 AM   #7
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For public judging at one locations, the events that I've heard do it that way give out one ticket with a plate. The public has the option to graze among the entries (usually the pork is in some serving tray to keep it hot and foodsafe).

The public only gets one vote per tray.
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Unread 01-24-2010, 09:17 AM   #8
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I have organized these
At the end of the day
Too much involved for it to still be fun
BBQ is supposed to be fun right?
We now just let teams vend 2 oz
tastes of bbq with a small fee included in the entry as low as $15.
or if the crowd will be good to great charge a fee as high as $500.
The teams keep all the cash
Depends on the situation location and association
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Unread 01-24-2010, 10:20 PM   #9
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I've been rather disappointed with people's choice contests as a cook.
The winner's are always the popular local team that had a good group of friends and family show up. It's also disappointing to hear the people literally complain about having to eat too much food...Seriously!
Then the folks will take your sample,pile it next to the other three samples still on their plate,not knowing what is what and I spent who knows how much time and material to try and win this, no thanks.
I know...sourpuss.
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Unread 01-24-2010, 10:25 PM   #10
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Oh yeah...it's usually set at dinnertime-which incidentaly is the time that I eat dinner too.
I had the pc food laying out on a table in front of our space last year, and I had a lady walk around the table, come into our spot and spear a piece of chicken off of my prep table that I was making some pizza's on! She complained that the chicken was cold-the look on her face was priceless when I said "that's because it's my dinner and I haven't cooked it yet". Never a dull moment!
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Unread 01-24-2010, 10:49 PM   #11
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I like them if you turn into a central point and it's blind judging. This way it takes little extra effort and that's important for many teams. I don't think any serious team likes to try to feed people as they are doing turn-in plus, the odds say a local team will win if it's served at team sites. No way I'd consider entering that type of event.

Friday night turn ins are nice if a team can prepare the meat. If not, a Saturday turn in is OK. I'd prefer it to be at 11:30 or 12:15 so it doesn't directly interfere with the chicken turn in. I can have it prepulled and ready to go and then put it back in the smoker to keep it warm for 15-20 minutes will I box chicken and turn it in.

I think 10 am is early for a turn in - not so much for the cooks, but for the public - are they going to start coming down that early that it maximizes the fundraising? And a cook, I'd rather have the public at the central point voting then coming by and asking questions while I'm at cram time.
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Unread 01-24-2010, 10:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewguy View Post
Oh yeah...it's usually set at dinnertime-which incidentaly is the time that I eat dinner too.
I had the pc food laying out on a table in front of our space last year, and I had a lady walk around the table, come into our spot and spear a piece of chicken off of my prep table that I was making some pizza's on! She complained that the chicken was cold-the look on her face was priceless when I said "that's because it's my dinner and I haven't cooked it yet". Never a dull moment!
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Unread 01-25-2010, 06:44 AM   #13
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As to the cooks choice on Friday night, honestly I wouldn't participate (if the contest
were held here) with folks coming around to our cook/camp site. Not interested at
all. Like thenewguy said, that's our time to eat, relax a little, make sure we've got
everything we need, and frankly we get busy with injections and rubs about that
time. The ones that we do participate in all blind judge and have ancillary turn-in on
Friday as well as the blind turn-in for Peoples Choice on Saturday. For example, we'll
make Brunswick Stew on Friday for turn-in Friday night. Guess what the team eats
Friday night. Yep, Brunswick Stew. On of my favorites has a grits category on
Friday night. Might seem strange having a traditional southern breakfast food
contest on Friday night. I'll tell you, there's not much better for dinner than hot
shrimp n grits... It's ended up being a shrimp n grits cookoff really lately. Its fun.

For a Saturday pulled pork Peoples Choice, we
pretty much just fire up the smoker an hour or so earlier than normal and put the
butts on that much earlier than our others. If nothing else, it's helping bring the
smoker to temps and get it to settle in... No huge additional effort required. Again,
if Peoples Choice isn't blind, we dont participate. To date, I've never seen a non-blind
Peoples Choice won by anyone other than the local team associated with a club or
a large company. Mind you, if that's what you want (to have a local team bring out
the support), there's nothing wrong with it. However, that's different than getting
the crowd involved in a blind peoples choice contest and having the crowd sample
true competition BBQ.
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Unread 01-25-2010, 09:09 AM   #14
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Thank you all for your input. I have emailed this question to all the cookers who came to our comp last year and told them they will decide how our cook off will be run this year.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KC_Bobby View Post
I like them if you turn into a central point and it's blind judging. This way it takes little extra effort and that's important for many teams. I don't think any serious team likes to try to feed people as they are doing turn-in plus, the odds say a local team will win if it's served at team sites. No way I'd consider entering that type of event.

Friday night turn ins are nice if a team can prepare the meat. If not, a Saturday turn in is OK. I'd prefer it to be at 11:30 or 12:15 so it doesn't directly interfere with the chicken turn in. I can have it prepulled and ready to go and then put it back in the smoker to keep it warm for 15-20 minutes will I box chicken and turn it in.

I think 10 am is early for a turn in - not so much for the cooks, but for the public - are they going to start coming down that early that it maximizes the fundraising? And a cook, I'd rather have the public at the central point voting then coming by and asking questions while I'm at cram time.
Thank you KC Bobby. Our cookers also were saying the same thing about the local teams winning if the public came to the cook site for the sample. Our People's Choice, if the cookers want it, will be a blind judging event where the cookers turn in the pulled pork so no one knows who cooked what. Thanks again to everyone who has had some input in this question. Any suggestions about any other category would certainly be welcome.
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