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Thinking about competition.

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hey guys. I'm 17. I've been smoking for about 3 years now (on top of cooking inside since I was 3 years old) and I'm really refining my technique and recipes. Everybody who tries my BBQ LOVES it. I bought a little chat broil offset stick burner for my 15th birthday after trying out indirect cooking in my dad's grill. I used that up until yesterday when I got a killer deal for a MES 40 At academy for $199. Got to say that thing runs like a dream. Much more efficient and cost effective than my stick burner. And more consistent results!!

Anyways. I got my smoker. Actually 2. (the stick burner is fine. Just rusting out more and more with every use and about to fall over so I count it as. 1/2 a smoker ūüėā) and my MES. Its been my dream since I started to compete in BBQ competitions. Not anything huge like Memphis in may. Just some local/louisiana state competitions (for now) I'm wondering what all I need to get started. I know I need ice chests. A canopy. A generator for my electric pit. Some kind of pan wash station. Chairs. Tables. And maybe a small trailer if my truck and my dad's truck can't haul everything. I got a few of my best friends to agree to be on my team as well as my dad and brother. I even designed shirts for us.

Can't compete until I am 18 and the competition in my hometown is a month after my birthday. I would love to show up and try to out do some of the older guys there.

Thank y'all for your help!!

Pitmaster T. Smokin' T's BBQ
post #2 of 3

Good for you Smokin T!  

 

One of the first things I will mention, is that you will not be able to use your MES for competition. at least not for KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society) sanctioned comps (you mentioned LA State Competitions, so you're most likely talking about a KCBS event.)  Their rules state that your fuel source, as well as your smoke of choice must be wood.   Your electric element in the MES is your heat source, so would not be allowed.   There are many who use the various pellet smokers which are allowed.   The pellet smokers use electricity to ignite the fire,  run the auger that supplies the pellets to the fire pot, and even run a fan that stokes the fire.  However, the heat source is still wood, in this case, burning wood pellets. therefore is legal.  

 

KCBS events judge on four different meats, chicken, ribs, brisket and pork (pulled, chopped, etc).    Most competitors don't cook only one meat per category, but several racks of ribs, briskets,  pork shoulders or butts, etc, so that they can turn in the best 6 samples in each category. Obviously this will add to your expenses.    Your entries are judged on appearance,  taste and texture by 6 judges at one table.  

 

I would encourage you to check out the KCBS, and investigate the possibility of becoming a Certified BBQ Judge.  That's a good way to learn the rules and learn what judges look for in award winning BBQ.   It would be something you could do with your dad and brother.  Back in September, I judged a contest at Bikes, Blues and BBQ in Fayetteville Arkansas.  There was a 16 y/o gentleman at my table that had judged in excess of 20 competitions.  He and his Dad participate in judging together.  

 

Depending on the local sponsors, many contests feature a back yard BBQ contest along with the sanctioned events.  That would be a good way to get your feet wet before tackling the big contests.  

 

You don't necessarily need to spend many thousands of dollars to do well in competition BBQ.  Many have been quite successful with less expensive smokers, both homemade and commercially made in every configuration imaginable.  All you need is something that holds your heat at a consistent temperature and allow your meats to hang out in a low and slow smoky environment.  This forum is a wealth of knowledge on modifications to make your particular type of smoker more efficient so it holds heat, conserves your fuel and imparts a great flavor to your food.     (might even allow you to get a little sleep instead of tending the pit all night!)  

 

Jump right in,  learn all you can from all the sources you can find..  Ask questions.  Visit some competitions.  Most teams would be glad to show you their set up and talk to you.   One thing though,  make you visit early on a Friday evening before the teams start firing their pits,  prepping their meats, etc.    After that, most teams aren't in the talking mood!

 

Keep us informed on how you're doing!

 

Brad

post #3 of 3
Everything Brad says I totally agree with. I atarted competing 4 years ago and I jumped right into it without going to a competitio. Which I thought was a mistake. First thing is make sure your pit can be used in comps and learn it before you use it. Know hot spots, how much fuel and when to add etc... Having your friends learn this with you as well. This will allow you all to get sleep while someone watches the pit and they know what they are doing. I would start in backyard comps first. If you look online you can probably find some non sanctioned events that you can compete in. We have one in Jax where a 14yr old competed. Get your timelines down. A good thing to do is setup everything outsode your house like you would at a comp. Get everything you think you will need and you and your friends stay out all night and cook all meat categories and build blind boxes. This would be a perfect practice routine. Dont fo in house to get anything. Make notes of things you didnt use and what you forgot. Also most comp sites will have electric hookup for lights and other things. Lastly do a lot of research on this site. When I started cooking I had no clue what to do. Everyone on this site has been extremely helpful with my questions. I have used info they have given me to win many awards in competitions. Take in as much info as you can. Ask a ton of questions. Best of luck
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