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First smoking competition - seeking advice

Discussion in 'Upcoming/Recurring BBQ Competitions (KCBS or Other' started by afunari, Feb 23, 2019.

  1. A friend and I are entering on first BBQ competition on March 15th-16th. Our mindset going in is that this is just for fun and that it will be learning experience.

    Here's a link to the competition: https://www.olatheks.org/government/parks-recreation/special-events/qlathe-bbq-championship. Our plan is for me to do the pulled pork and chicken, and he has the brisket and ribs. We have read the rules front to back.

    The question I was hoping to ask is for those of you who have done this before what advice would you give?

    Walchit likes this.
  2. Have fun and I hope y'all do well!
    JC in GB likes this.
  3. Good luck. I would love to get into competing someday when my kids get a little older. I would check out malcom reeds YouTube videos. He is with killer hawgs bbq team. He’s got a ton of great videos and a lot about getting into the competition scene. Let us know how the competition goes. Take some pics. We love the Q view.
    Hawging It likes this.
  4. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    YouTube has saved my hide a few times...I have never entered a smoked meat competition, but I have done several chili competitions and I have attended a few smoked meat competitions to cheer on my buddies. One thing that is clear from my chili experiences, being a spectator at smoked meat competitions, and also from watching TV and the YouTube video's is presentation is important.

    Practice this! When you are in a time crunch, simple tasks can get a little more complicated.
    JC in GB likes this.
  5. My friend and I have done 2 comps before. I would say for the first time make a list of everything you will need and make sure to check it before you leave. Make a practice run or two if you can to get your timing down for turn ins. Also if you are doing turn in boxes with the garnish you might get a couple of restaurant take out containers and practice your presentation.
    JC in GB and Walchit like this.
  6. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Don't worry about winning, just have fun and the win will eventually happen. Competition can get a little expensive when the sample followers find out you have good food.
    JC in GB likes this.
  7. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Good Morning and Welcome from a Sunny and Cold East Texas
    Competitions are funny, it really just comes down to the judges taste. I sure you have studied up and researched how the different meats should look, pull apart, bite through, so on and so on. Some judges like Sweet, some like savory, some like lots of different flavors, some don't. Hard to tell until you have done it enough and kinda figure out what the Judges like. Main thing is HAVE FUN, talk to the other competitors , Make a bunch of friends and learn.

    JC in GB likes this.
  8. Thanks, everyone. My first competition was an amazing experience! Everything came off really well. (Just need to plan next time for how cold it will be at night!) I was in charge of the pulled pork, which ranked 48th out of 64 entries. Honestly, I am really proud of that!
    For appearance/ taste/ tenderness, my scores were
    Judge 1: 8/7/9
    Judge 2: 8/7/9
    Judge 3: 7/7/8
    Judge 4: 7/7/7
    Judge 5: 8/8/9
    Judge 6: 8/8/9
    (Score were 2-9)
    I have some work to do on flavor, but overall, I think my pork has potential. (Here are some pics of my plated pork)
    Most importantly, I had a blast and can't wait to do it again!

    Attached Files:

    Walchit likes this.
  9. Glad to hear you had a great time. Looks like judges 5 & 6 liked what you did quite a bit.
    JC in GB likes this.
  10. I helped friend in ribs competition and we came out third out of 7 competitors just to realize that our advertising banners sucked big time with no prove of any previous wins because there wasn't any...BBQ competition is like a sex.... close your eyes and hope for the best.....
  11. fivetricks

    fivetricks Smoking Fanatic

    Consider the fact that the judges are only taking one bite of your food. Backyard BBQ is not the same as competition BBQ. Consider really ramping up your flavor. :-)
    JC in GB likes this.
  12. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Legendary Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Congrats on getting out there and doing a comp. Looking at the score I believe they were fair if not generous with some of the marks. Something to work on would be your box. Make sure you bed is well made per say. You dont want it to look like it was just thrown in there.

    Also on the flavor a sprinkle of rub on it once you box it will help so that the pop of flavor and salt hits their tongues to give it a kick. Dont go overboard on it but just a nice pop.

    Looks like you have the cook down well as the tenderness was well scored.

    Congrats again.
    JC in GB likes this.
  13. I'll piggy back on mudds post. As for the box the team and I spend hours making our boxes. Remember you only get one glance. If you aren't aware of how the table captian presents the boxes to the judges, we are taught to handle the box slightly under a 45 degree angle. Left hand under the box, right hand holding the lid just pass parallel with the base. Start from left to right of the table. You can use this view angle to your advantage. If your presentation is placed correctly, all judges should see your food in a 180 degree view. Here the key for our team, everything has to be symmetrically. Meaning, not only does your meat have to look and smell good, the garnish should be taken into consideration as well.
    For the garnish, it should still look alive! There should be no gaps in between layers. Depending on the rules, some comps allow use of leaf green lettuce and parsley. Use your green lettuce for a base and use the parsley sparingly to fill in gaps. But remember to get it a symmetrical as possible.
    Congrats on competing your first comp. Regardless were you place, always remember to learn something new !
  14. sidewinder73

    sidewinder73 Fire Starter

    Competitions can be very subjective. I have found folks do not like heat and prefer sweet in my region. Presentation is big and appealing to the masses. Looks like you did great on that pork!