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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 09-06-2010, 07:42 PM   #1
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Default What This CBJ Learned Today About Comp BBQ Cooking

Dear Competition BBQ Cooks:

My hats off to you! I admire what you are able to do weekend after weekend. Today, I went through a dress rehearsal for a KCBS sanctioned BBQ competition. It was grueling. I cooked all four categories: Chicken, Ribs, Pork Shoulder, and Brisket.

I learned that you guys and gals work your behinds off in every competition. I learned that it costs a lot of money and time and it takes a lot of love of the art and dedication.

Here are three of the boxes I completed today in my dress rehearsal for an upcoming competition. I won't show my ribs because I deviated from my tried and true method as an experiment and it didn't turn out good.

As the guy who ran the company that invented the parachute said after his first failed attempt, "That's why we do these tests."

These boxes need some work, for sure, and the pictures reveal all of the hard work I have to do.

Another thing I learned is, I won't be competing this weekend. There are too many obstacles I have to overcome. Everything from better knives to better lighting for the dark morning hours to being able to sleep on-site. I have the entire fall and winter to prepare, and, prepare I will.

But, until then, I will continue to strive to be the best CBJ that I can possibly be and continue to hone my skills and collect all of the tools that I can to be a better competitor.

So, my hats off to you folks who compete on a regular basis. I can't think of anything that I would rather be able to do. I have no idea how to make a living at it, but, at this time in my life, I'd settle for having fun doing it.

Too many judges are literally oblivious to what's involved in making good competition BBQ. They get annoyed at the judges table when I bring it up. They really do look at me and almost roll their eyes and fall to sleep. But, this is one CBJ who will always stand up for the competitors and make sure that the CBJs on my table know that a lot of hard work, money, time, and love of the art of BBQ goes into every box that they will judge.

I will compete some day, but, not this weekend. I have too many logistical problems to overcome in such a short amount of time.

So, what do you think of my boxes?
Operation BBQ Relief Founding Member - I am Obsessive Compulsive about BBQ. Google it.

Last edited by Boshizzle; 09-06-2010 at 08:27 PM..
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Unread 09-06-2010, 07:55 PM   #2
Dan - 3eyzbbq
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You should compete. Are you talking about Hedgesville, WV? You just have to jump in and those boxes don't look too bad at al.
Dan Hixon
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Unread 09-06-2010, 08:18 PM   #3
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Thanks, bro! The comp I wanted to compete in is the one in Richmond called Rescue Fest. It's close to my home.
Operation BBQ Relief Founding Member - I am Obsessive Compulsive about BBQ. Google it.
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Unread 09-06-2010, 10:53 PM   #4
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I think you should go for it! If anything you will make yourself some great leftovers for lunch and some new friends! Oh and there's 9:22... which is always fun!
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Unread 09-06-2010, 10:55 PM   #5
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Go get some head lamps and laterns and jump right in. There's never going to be a "perfect" time. You just have to do it. I just did my first comp this past weekend and it was a blast.
Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire. Exodus 12:9
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Unread 09-06-2010, 11:35 PM   #6
somebody shut me the fark up.
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Thanks for taking the initiative to see what a comp team goes through.

I compete once a year, and started doing it just to see if my Q was any good.

We competed this year and used NO electricity. I bought a pair of Coleman lanterns off CL and used those. Worked great. I did not have nice knives when I got into this. I used the sharpest kitchen knife I had. I have since grown my collection thanks to the generosity of others and the internet.

All you really need is 4 good recipes, a canopy, some tables, your cooker, and supplies to clean with.

As far as your boxes, the chicken would have looked better with just the 6 evenly sized pieces.

The pork looks good except for the hidden 6th slice.

The brisket box would look better if you pre-trimmed your brisket to just over box width, make sure your slices are oriented the same way as they came off the flat and put your burnt ends either at the top or bottom instead of the sides.

I hope this experience helps you grow as a judge.
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Unread 09-07-2010, 01:27 AM   #7
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Thank you for truly understanding what competition cooks go through. Your sincerity speaks volumes.

As for the boxes:

Chicken: If you can get 8 in the box, why not go for 9 (three rows of 3). The bottom two look good and so does the top right one, uniformity wise. Try to make all of your pieces look the exact same as best as you can. A nicer glaze would be better as well. Oh yeah, the bottom right one looks perfect.

Pork: The box doesn't look full enough. I know it's enough, but consider laying some pulled underneath to lift up your sliced and chunked.

Brisket: It looks like the ends of the slices got sliced off. Try sizing your brisket prior to putting it on the cooker so that you have bark all the way around. It's a task, but well worth it.

Overall I'd probably go with 777 on appearance for all 3 of those.

Keep up the great work, and take my advice with a big grain of salt.
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Unread 09-07-2010, 06:34 AM   #8
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You should go for it. Rescue Fest looks like a nice small contest to get your feet wet. If not now then when?

Your boxes don't look bad. They could all use some more meat & the pork & brisket look a little dry. Try spritzing them up just before you put them in the box.

Good luck!
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Unread 09-07-2010, 07:03 AM   #9
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I haven't competed as the cook, but have helped on a team several times. Yes the work involoved can be overwhelming at times.
But there's no time like the present to get your feet wet.
Your boxes don't look bad at all, just a little too much parsley I'd say and not enough meat. The parsley should just outline the meat or be a canvass inorder to provide that tasty picture you want the judges to taste. (yes not see but taste with thier eyes.) Yours looks like it would taste more leafy rather the meaty.
Your attitude will take you a long way. Now that you have a better understanding of what the comp teams endour.
Great job and good luck!
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Unread 09-07-2010, 07:51 AM   #10
Take a breath!

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Looks like a pretty good start to me. I agree the effort to compete is daunting, that's why I have only done 1 small unsanctioned contest since I am by myself and don't have all the equipment (air conditioned trailer) I would like.

Chicken itself looks cooked ok, but the varying size will hurt your score. I think even with the different sizes if you would have grouped by size that would have helped.

Pork looks really tasty but seems to have disappeared into the garnish. Either tighter garnish or more meat to make the meat stand out. Like Crash said you can put shreded meat under the slices to lift it above the garnish.

Brisket looks ok too but again sinks into the garnish. Harbormaster was right about keeping the slices oriented, same way as cut off the brisket. A few more slices and burnt ends wouldnt hurt either. With the slices I think if you show the face of the first slice, and then tighten up the other slices (not show as much of the face of the slice) would look better to me.

I applaud everyone who competes and provides me the chance to judge their BBQ, I then try to be as fair and accurate in my judging as possible.
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Unread 09-07-2010, 09:08 AM   #11
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You are further along with those boxes than many! Jump right into competing, you just may surprise yourself. A cheapy construction light pointed up into the underside of your canopy gives just enough diffused light to work by at night (if you need it). A headlamp is great for focused work. Make sure all you prep is done at home or the day before and the only light you will need at night really is enough to check on your smoker.
Matt Schneider - "The Smokesman" - Velvet Smoke BBQ & Catering
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Unread 09-07-2010, 09:12 AM   #12
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Bo, Thanks for the write-up and pics. I'd judged 4+- years before entering my first
comp, and even though I had a pretty good idea of what all goes in to it, it was still
significantly more than I'd imagined or practiced. I not only hope that competitors
will judge a few early on, I really wish it were mandatory that judges cook/compete
in a competition to obtain some higher level of certification, and then organizers strive
to get a 70% "higher certified" judge. If nothing else, it will give them a slight pause
between that 6 and a 7, or that 8 and a 9... I dont mean to say that judges should
score higher, just because... Just that a little walking in the others' shoes does tend
to add a little higher appreciation, which you so aptly wrote above.

Go, compete. Seriously. And, enjoy. It's unbelievable labor, but for many of us it's
a labor of love. Jump in. You're not nearly as far off as you think. You're also
learning that the winners sweat the details, even the smallest detail.
Hance - Lake Dogs Cooking Team - MiM/MBN/GBA CBJ and comp cook
Lake Sinclair, GA (strategically about an hour from darn near anywhere)
Started competing in chili cookoffs back in the 1990's and have competed in more than I care to count. I became a CBJ in MiM in 2005, then MBN and in GBA in 2010. I've probably judged 130+- BBQ comps (sanctioned and unsanctioned) over this time. That said, I really enjoy competing more than I enjoy judging, and hope to get back to doing 4 or 5 a year in the near future.
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Unread 09-07-2010, 09:14 AM   #13
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I salute you for taking the time to understand what cooks actually go through on a weekend.
Tim McMaster - Porter Mac's Rockin' BBQ - Recently converted Pellet-Head
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Unread 09-07-2010, 09:07 PM   #14
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You believe and feel the same same as I do. As a CBJ I have said it many times at my table. "Judges should be required to cook with a team way before they have judged 30 contests."
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Unread 09-07-2010, 11:02 PM   #15
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Heck of a thread...I think you are being honest(bout yourself)as far as critique... ..I also agree with the get out and compete sentiments...

Only saw 5 pieces of Money Muscle.

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