Entering Amateur Competition: How To?

Discussion in 'Upcoming/Recurring BBQ Competitions (KCBS or Other' started by bbrock293, May 20, 2013.

  1. I am considering entering in some kind of amateur BBQ competition, mostly for fun and I wanted to get my product critiqued. I am wondering where I need to begin to do this. I am sure I can find and enter one online, but I have a few questions and am also wondering if anyone that had done this had any tips. I am basically looking for how to get started. Thanks!

    1. Is there a good go-to book dedicated to competiting?

    2. Any tips from those who have entered amateur competition?

    3. Any websites dedicated to competition circuits I can refer to?

    Appreciate the help guys.
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  2. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    BBrock293-My first suggestion would be to go to a BBQ Comp as a spectator and see what the other teams are doing-if you are able, ask them questions; you'll find folks that are willing to share their knowledge and others that will flat out tell you to get lost.  I used to compete in Dutch oven cooking events and I would get all kinds of questions on temp control, recipes, etc.

    You need to practice, practice, practice. Are you looking to enter in one category or several? If you are going to do a multi-meat comp, you need to be able to cook, plate and get your entry to the judges in the time allowed and still get the other meats going. Oh yeah-and try to figure when you are going to try and get a nap.  Practice will be expensive and you need to do it more than just a couple of times. Get your family and friend to eat and critique you food. Their comments may be harsh but remember that you asked for their comments and build up from it.

    For your first couple of comps, do a single entry and do what you do best. Are your ribs better than your pulled pork? Do you have a killer brisket? Basically-go with what you know. 

    Their are classes out there that will teach you what you need to know but they can be expensive. They can run from several hundred dollars to over a thousand and that doesn't include the cost of your meats. If the classes are outside your area,  factor in the cost of your motel/hotel room.

    Hopefully, some of our members that do compete will jump in and give you their insite to the Competion world of BBQ!
    bbrock293 likes this.
  3. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Good morning!  I too want to start doing comps in the Backyard divisions.  Most comps for the BY only do chicken and ribs...some let you do pulled pork too.  I have just gone this month and helped 2 pro teams...and watched and I am learning tons.  See if there are any around you that will let you tag along and help/learn.  I learn better by doing and watching than reading about things.

    You can join KCBS too...and they have lots of great information...and a monthly newsletter that gets mailed to you.

    Good luck!

    bbrock293 likes this.
  4. redneck69

    redneck69 Smoking Fanatic

    im with you Kat...hands on, helping out is way better than reading about it
  5. Howdy BBrock, and welcome to the forum. Getting started in comps I'd do what has been already stated by others, go to some cook offs and see what is taking place from start to finish. Ask the promoter of the event if they are needing help in the judging area. Stay from the begining of the cook off to the final tally of the points at the awards to see what all takes place.

    There are several forums on the internet that have members that are into BBQ comps such as this forum has a competition page, others like BBQ Brethren, or The Smoke Ring also have their competition pages also, but you are not going to learn much about it by reading others posts on the subject. each sanctioning body have their own  rules and guidelines on how meats are prepared and turned in as with the times between turn ins also. KCBS has 30 minute times between turn ins and IBCA has anywhere from 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours between turn in of the meats

    Go on line to KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society) or IBCA (International Barbecue Cookers Assoc.) website and under their calendar of events there will be a list of sanctioned comps that are in your area, you can pick and choose from to go and visit. Like  Dutch said, you need to practice, practice, practice in getting your cook times down. These same events sometimes have "backyard" catagories where a person can enter and get involved with it on a smaller scale and less likely to getting overwhelmed than just jumping into a full blown 3 or 4 meat comp. There you can meet new folks and get to know others that have the same desire of competeing and where ideas can be shared and see for yourself how it all works. 

    Good luck in your search and find a local cook off and enter it and jump in and get your feet wet, mainly have a good time with it and expect to be tired and worn out when the cook is over but you will meet some really good folks along the way...Just do it!.
    bbrock293 likes this.
  6. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    BadSanta has you covered there.  Books that will feed your desire for Comp knowledge beyonjd the forums, which will feed you quite a bit...

      Good read, team and comp basics.

    http://yokeup.net/BBQHandbook.html   Put together by a great guy and a great cook, also has a series of videos on YouTube.

    If there are some local events you can visit, sign up to judge as well.  This will really open your eyes to what needs to be and what not needs to be turned in quickly.

    bbrock293 likes this.
  7. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    IMHO, one should visit the contest to see what happens , then pick a catagory and practice that one thing till you are ready to , and think you can hang.

    Don't get upset if you don't place, just keep hitting the Practice and with patience, you'll make you goal.

    Have fun. . .
  8. dougmays

    dougmays Limited Mod Group Lead

    A lot of good Advice above! Not sure what else i can add but in most Florida (FBA) competitions the Backyard people are able to compete in the same 4 entries that the pro's compete in. Most of the time they'll do a lower flat fee for Backyard so usually around $150-200 to enter all 4 or around $25-50 each category.

    I would also do what most said above and just enter one category the first go-around...this way you'll learn how timing, prep, and turn in works in a competition setting. It's alot different then cooking for a group of friends at home and tell them to "arrive around 5pm" and "here is a pulled pork sandwich". In my opinion Ribs might be the the easiet thing to start with because if your using the 2-2-1 or the 3-2-1 method you can pretty much time it perfectly whereas Butts and Briskets are longer cooks and sometimes can be unpredictable. Also "presentation" is probably the easiest for ribs (again in my opinion)...just try to make sure all the pieces are the same size.

    I dont know if anyone mention judging and presentation above but in FBA comps  you usually have either 6 or 8 judges  so you'll have to make sure you'll have enough meat for each. Also look up the rules for the specific competition  your in..different ones have different rules about sauce, what can be in the box along with the meat, etc...

    for Presentation i would search Youtube...alot of the pro's will post videos on how they trim and present there meats.

    Overall just go in there, have fun with it! it's a learning process...you likely will not win your first one or even place very high. But while your meat is cooking go walk around and talk to people. Most are very friendly...some people take it way to serious and dont even want to talk. but just start off by shooting the breeze and alot of the times Q-talk will break out and you might learn a thing or 2. 
    Nap?? what is that? when i go i just plan on not sleeping for 24 hours LOL..

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