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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 12-28-2010, 11:37 PM   #1
vvbbqcomp
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Default Advice for a new guy

This is the year I have decided to bite the bullet and schedule to go to a sanctioned comp. We are starting out very basic but will build from here. I just want to get some advice from you guys who have been there. We are looking at contest in the end of July so looking at about 7 months prep. I will be cooking on 4 modified "ecb"'s but I feel we do good job of controlling temps with them being modified. For the most part we have our "theory" on how we want to do things, we have our rubs, sauces, and the like selected. Besides practicing and getting my time charts set up, what else should I be thinking about? Honestly, I have become very passioniate about BBQ and feel that if I could possibly cater and compete and keep the bills paid, I would consider giving up the daytime job(which is something I never thought I would do, but obviously wouldn't do without a lot of thought, prayer, and success.) I appreciate the advice and hope to get out to more comps and meeting people.
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Unread 12-28-2010, 11:52 PM   #2
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Jump in and do it! That's about the only way to get a real feel for how the comp atmosphere is. You could also help a team if anybody is willing to let you hang out with them and watch. That is what I did, after that I got my bro in law to help me on my first comp and now we're both hooked! Sucks ya gotta wait till July though. Good luck!
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Unread 12-29-2010, 02:58 AM   #3
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I did an event last year and I was hooked, I took 6th overall. There is a great book that is a very easy read that helped me a lot. "startin the fire". It gives you a good look at what a competition looks like. I think the biggest thing I learned was to get orginized and have a plan going in. It is not a time to experiment.... If you want to PM me i can expand on things further that I learned..... Good luck...
http://www.amazon.com/Startin-Fire-G...3612952&sr=8-1
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Unread 12-29-2010, 03:38 AM   #4
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Comp BBQ is a lot of fun. I really enjoy doing this crazy game. My advice is to jump in, set small goals, and keep your day job.

I havent a clue what kind of bills you have but I do know that you will not make much money competing, and catering is not as easy as some may think. I dont mean to take away from your dreams but reality tells me it isnt as easy as I thought it would be. I dabbled in catering. It was stressful to say the least.
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Unread 12-29-2010, 04:17 AM   #5
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I did my first comp as head cook of my own team (I've been a gopher boy for a few teams in the past) this past April. We took 2nd in beans out of 34 teams, no money but it was fun to walk and get a trophy. The camaraderie was unbelievable. I was there with my backyard smoker and a weber otg and we made it work. I knew my girlfriend was on board but was really shocked that my Mom and Sister got hooked, so much so that my Mom is buying the BWS Fatboy that I'm picking up Friday. Long story short, come on in, the water is fine!
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Unread 12-29-2010, 05:09 AM   #6
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Yep, STARTIN THE FIRE is a great book, and you can read it and pass it on to other team members. George of "WHO ARE THOSE GUYS" really shows you what to do and what NOT to do. Highly recommend it. George is a brethren. PM him and he can hook you up. his screen name is WATG?
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Unread 12-29-2010, 06:19 AM   #7
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Since you have 7 months, I would seriously consider becoming a certified judge and judging a couple of contests. It will give you an opportunity to taste what other teams are submitting, as well as get ideas on making boxes. It also will give you a chance to talk to some of the more experienced judges and get their thoughts.

Judging also lets you pick up little things you might not think about -- for example, no matter how warm the food is when it is put in the box, by the time the judges get it, it will likely be cold. How is your flavor profile when everything is at room temperature? It's stuff like that I picked up after judging.

Best of luck to you!
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Unread 12-29-2010, 06:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vvbbqcomp View Post
This is the year I have decided to bite the bullet and schedule to go to a sanctioned comp. We are starting out very basic but will build from here. I just want to get some advice from you guys who have been there. We are looking at contest in the end of July so looking at about 7 months prep. I will be cooking on 4 modified "ecb"'s but I feel we do good job of controlling temps with them being modified. For the most part we have our "theory" on how we want to do things, we have our rubs, sauces, and the like selected. Besides practicing and getting my time charts set up, what else should I be thinking about? Honestly, I have become very passioniate about BBQ and feel that if I could possibly cater and compete and keep the bills paid, I would consider giving up the daytime job(which is something I never thought I would do, but obviously wouldn't do without a lot of thought, prayer, and success.) I appreciate the advice and hope to get out to more comps and meeting people.
We have a lot of great cooks in Oklahoma. I suggest going to a few comps we have here in the state and walk around and watch the contest process.
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Unread 12-29-2010, 07:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vvbbqcomp View Post
This is the year I have decided to bite the bullet and schedule to go to a sanctioned comp. We are starting out very basic but will build from here. I just want to get some advice from you guys who have been there. We are looking at contest in the end of July so looking at about 7 months prep. I will be cooking on 4 modified "ecb"'s but I feel we do good job of controlling temps with them being modified. For the most part we have our "theory" on how we want to do things, we have our rubs, sauces, and the like selected. Besides practicing and getting my time charts set up, what else should I be thinking about? Honestly, I have become very passioniate about BBQ and feel that if I could possibly cater and compete and keep the bills paid, I would consider giving up the daytime job(which is something I never thought I would do, but obviously wouldn't do without a lot of thought, prayer, and success.) I appreciate the advice and hope to get out to more comps and meeting people.
just dont go in to your 1st comp with real high expectations..have fun and dont beat yourself up if you dont wow the judges first time out..
also a practice cook at home adhering to turn in times etc will give you a good feel for what to expect
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Unread 12-29-2010, 08:27 AM   #10
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Here's my advice...

Don't do it! You just end up have a great time and meeting some great people and you'll be hooked. Before you know it you'll be buying bigger and better cookers, a trailer, a bigger truck, a bigger trailer and so on. You'll find yourself sitting on the couch on an off weekend looking at the competition results wishing that you were cooking somewhere. You'll search the KCBS site looking for new competitions and calculating how far they are and saying things like "it's only 6 hours and we have then weekend off". Then, all of a sudden, you'll be doing 6 or 7 in a row and loving every minute of it.



Seriously, it is a lot of fun. You've gotten good advice, especially from White Dog and Butcher BBQ. Judge if you can get certified, and go to a couple of comps and hang out with some Brethren teams to get a feel for their schedules, etc.

Then, do at least one mock competition in your back yard or driveway and keep careful notes of everything that you have to run into the house to get, and add that to your packing list.

Most of all, have a great time, both at the comp, and along the way!
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Unread 12-29-2010, 09:03 AM   #11
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Damn, I hate having to agree with Ron_L, but in this case he is right (did I say that out loud?!?!?!?).
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Unread 12-29-2010, 09:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by White Dog BBQ View Post
Since you have 7 months, I would seriously consider becoming a certified judge and judging a couple of contests. It will give you an opportunity to taste what other teams are submitting, as well as get ideas on making boxes. It also will give you a chance to talk to some of the more experienced judges and get their thoughts.

Judging also lets you pick up little things you might not think about -- for example, no matter how warm the food is when it is put in the box, by the time the judges get it, it will likely be cold. How is your flavor profile when everything is at room temperature? It's stuff like that I picked up after judging.

Best of luck to you!
This time last year I was in the same boat as the OP. In January I took the judging class and it helped out tremendously. If you can swing the cash I'd do a cooking class as well. They can prepare you to hit the ground running when you get to your first comp.
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Unread 12-29-2010, 10:58 AM   #13
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Not much I can add to the above advice except...Good Luck and Have Fun! Oh yea...a checklist is a good thing too...here's one I use.

http://www.pnwba.com/ContestApps/200...tChecklist.pdf
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Unread 12-29-2010, 11:26 AM   #14
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Welcome (to competitions), I hope you enjoy it as much as most of us do.

All great advice above. I would consider having multiple practice cooks between
now and then where you bring in 6 to 10 people to sample your BBQ. Ask then
to be frank and bluntly honest. With these cooks, make 6 to 20 sauces. Find
the sauce that best compliments the meat and the spices that you use in your
rub(s) and injections/marinades. For our part, we found it rather... enlightening.
We're now using a completely different sauce (as a result).

When choosing the competition, determine which sanctioning body they go with.
Each tends to define the tenderness of ribs differently, and practice cooking to
that definition/specification. For example, in MBN they should pull cleanly from
the bone with a slight resistance. For KCBS they should be bite-through but not
pull off, and definitely not fall off the bone. Read up on the specifics (you have 7
months) of the rules and what is and isn't allowed. Look at things like whether
garnish is allowed in the turn-in box or not. For that matter on a few of the practices
take some time to practice placing each item in the box. Practice slicing the ribs
with precision (clean slices).

Like the guys said above, if you can become a certified judge in the mean time, that'll
help. Whether or not you get certified, see if you can judge a comp before it. The
old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" cannot be any more true. While you
can see pics here on brethren, you can't smell it, taste it, etc. Learn/know the mark
to try to hit. I'll never forget when I attended my certification class; no less that 50
percent of the attendees had no desire to judge but were competitors trying to learn
why they weren't getting scored well. It can truly be enlightening.

Oh, practice hitting a specific time. This might sound easy until you've done it a time
or two. Make sure that you can get a nice hot rib (or piece of chicken, pork, etc) in
a box sliced cleanly and to your satisfaction about 7 minutes before the deadline.

Also, practice cooking the same volume of meat that you'll use in the competition.
Different sanctioning bodies will require you to cook different volumes. Refer to above
and check the rules carefully. Example: KCBS in pork we'll cook 3 butts (just because
we have the room), however in MBN we'll cook 8 whole pork shoulders. In the same
cooker, at the same temperature, they'll get done at completely different intervals.


Best of luck and truly have fun.
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Unread 12-29-2010, 05:02 PM   #15
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Thank you to all of you, it is some great advice that I will put to use. We are going to start KCBS, #1 because of the closeness of some of the contests. I had thought about getting certified as a judge and you guys mentioning it just confirms it for me. As far as a class, I'm looking at it. I live 30 minutes from Donny Teel and Buffalo's BBQ but I don't think I'm going to have time to get the money ready for his class. Bummer he only does one a year. Again thanks for the advice.
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