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Who out there is a competition cook?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Are you willing to share some tips and secrets to help us wanabe competition cooks get through our first competition? Anything that would help us to relax and not make fools of ourselves or myself as the case may be.
post #2 of 18
What are you smoking? Lot of options out there.

post #3 of 18
The first thing a comp cook needs is confidence. Nerves are fine... but you have to believe in your product. Do you?
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
I will be cooking chicken, brisket, pork butt and ribs.

I can cook the food I just don't want to finish last or embarrass myself and the folks helping me. I am hoping the competition cooks will share some helpful tips and tricks.
post #5 of 18
Sounds like yer ready then :{) See the BBQ sauce thread. A freebie!
post #6 of 18
PRACTICE, set up in the garage, every thing you may need, no going inside for forgoten stuff. set your own turn in tyme, and stick to it as if it is the real turn in. Go to a few comps and talk and taste. i don't cook the same for KCBS as i do for the "localy" events, differnt tastes and judges. if you want to hit a few comps. let me know and i'll go learn with ya.
post #7 of 18
Do a practice cook or two and make sure you got your timing down. Try to simulate the comp situation all you can. Haul everything you need (or think you need) outside and set the objective of not going in for anything. Keep a list of what you needed and what you didn't. Build your turn in boxes and the whole nine yards, make sure you can get all four done, boxed, and turned in on time. The easiest way to get a DAL is to turn nothing in.

Make sure you have a game plan if the meat is taking too long.......or gets done too fast.

Everytime you cook between now and the contest build a box and check out your presentation. It is harder than it seems to make a good looking box.

Remember, there is a minimum number of pieces of meat that has to go in the box........but not a maximum. Judges seem to like a full box of meat and not a box of green (or white if no garnish)

Even if you are not happy with how your meat turned out, turn it in anyhow.........you might be surprised. My first comp I was disappointed with my ribs but got 10th and thought my pork was the best I have ever done and got 32nd........

Take lots of notes. Comps seem to be addictive, no one seems able to do just one. Take notes and make changes for your second one.

Relax, don't drink too much, and have a good time. If you get everything turned in you will be fine.........the only pressure you have it what you put on yourself.

Good luck and don't take it too seriously.
post #8 of 18
you truely never know,the first competition i did i had a very nice experienced team next to us,he shared stuff all weekend with us,when he was ready to pull his shoulders he called me over to see them,they were beautiful!!,mine always run on the dark side but the bark is what people always brag on about mine too,i went back to my cooker and showed him mine,he looked and said man they are dark!! started questioning my wood choice and how long i cooked but before he left he said to me,you never know how the judges taste will run....we took second in our class!! i was blown away!!! so just do your thing and do it your way you never know,the night before that cookoff i came up with an injectable marinade for my shoulder,but one of my team members talked me out of useing it saying.you never get a new hair cut the day of the prom!!! she was right.
kcbs also has judes school you can go to and they will teach you exactly what the judges are looking for,we just certified with them and will be judging one this weekend.
post #9 of 18
Sounds like all has giving great advice.

The attitude;
I went in expecting nothing so I wasn't disappointed.
Have fun with it and relax.
If ya win cool if not there's always next time.
post #10 of 18
I know the feeling of not knowing Foozer....I'm competing in my first comp this weekend. I am lucky that I'm going with an experienced cooker. We will be using my cooker which is brand new. We don't know what to expect from it...Everyone has given you great advice. I would suggest as has already been mentioned to try and cook with a team at a comp. I don't think the cooking part is bad, but making sure you have everything is critical. Make what sauces and rubs you will use ahead of time so the flavors will have time to mix and mingle would be my suggestion.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone thanks for all that great advice.

One of the questions that I have been wondering about is "do I use sauce on the meat or not and if so when"?

Any thoughts?

Should I do the brisket the "old smokie" way?
post #12 of 18
I compete every time I smoke anything. I tell my wife I'm going to smoke a brisket this weekend and she says "The hell you are! We have things to do this weekend and your not going to spend the whole time hovering around that damned smoker!"

See? I open my mouth and the competition is on!

post #13 of 18
LOL Bless you, Brother.
post #14 of 18
If it is KCBS, than "paint" on a thin layer to brisket slices just before they go in turn in box, Butt, you can mix a little in to it after you pull it, just before it go's into the box. Ribs and chicken, you can cook it it on the last 10 min. or so. This is what i do as well as most of the competitor i see and talk to.
post #15 of 18
All I can say is, Amen brother!
post #16 of 18

Comp Suggestions

Some credentials first. This is our fourth year. I'm a CBJ for about 8 years now and a Table Captain.

In the first contest this year, finished twelfth overall with 47 teams; got a first in chicken.

In the 2nd contest this year, finished 4th overall out of 39 teams; 2nd in ribs and 3rd in pork (where WAS my first place chicken).

Couple of ideas for newbies:

1. Like everyone said, practice. Do it just like a contest and follow the KCBS time of 12, 12:30, 1 and 1:30. Take notes.

2. Have fun, it IS a contest

3. Try to go and hang with a team before your first contest. You can go to another contest and walk around, ask lots of questions. Don't forget to offer beer or your services to clean up, etc

4. Have fun (see a trend)

5. LEARN THE RULES. At the past two contests, several teams have been DQ'd. Only reason I heard at the last one was "marking". If you have any questions at a contest, talk to the KCBS rep, tell them what you want to do and ask if it will be okay. For the guy who put a bunch of sauce in the corner of the box, this would have helped him

6. HF

7. Understand the point systems. Taste is twice as important as tenderness which is twice as important as appearance. Yes, judges eat with their eyes first, but if you spend too much time worrying about appearance and it tastes like @#$%, you wont score no matter how pretty you have it

8. Guess

9. Don't stress over the scores. Trust me, a case of beer wouldn't be enough to get all my judging stories and feelings about judges. I know for a fact, that I turned in 4 great entries this weekend. Two scored, the 3rd was a 12th place. I try to turn in the best that I can. For me, as much as I've done it, I've not turned in "perfect" yet; I'm still learning (although I do cash a lot of checks). Be happy if you get a call, don't be surprised if one category or two do great and the other to don't

10. When in doubt, don't forget rules 2,4,6,8.

post #17 of 18
LOL... very succinctly put Okie. You forgot something:

Have FUN!
post #18 of 18
Have not done a brisket, but get the same reaction about my plans to smoke too.

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