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first time competition next year

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by bigsmoken, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. So I am gonna be doing my first competition next year and I've been smoking my keister off trying to get everything right and I all of a sudden realize I'm not sure if there is anything special i should be doing or looking out for....I literally have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to competition....what should i be practicing or going for. Any advice at all would be appreciated as i think I might just be lost.
  2. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Good luck. They are fun and a lot of work.

    I am planning on eventually doing comps as well. I was/am in the same boat as you are. I decided to go through judges class and plan to judge a few comps before entering. I figure it will give me a bit of insight to how it works and what they are looking for. Believe me, what I thought they were looking for and how it is done, is very different then what I was thinking.........

  3. gringodave

    gringodave Fire Starter

    What a great idea!!!! What better way to learn what to shoot for... especially since you're not shooting for great tasting Q. (grin)
  4. kathrynn

    kathrynn Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member

    One thing that I have done this year....is find some folks that do the comps...ask if you can go and help them during a few.  You will learn so much from their point of view and get to taste some mighty good smoked things too.

  5. thats not a bad idea...i'll start taking a look around.
  6. dan - firecraft

    dan - firecraft Smoke Blower

    Like said above...helping a team that has been doing it for a bit will help a ton. Just from a packing list standpoint that information is valuable.

    When we started we just went for it on our own and it took about 2-3 comps before the special trips the day of stopped:) Another good idea is to maybe do a 1 day event locally. We started with a rib/chicken,chef's choice event and it helped a lot....We did maybe 4 of those before we jumped into any KCBS events with at least 4 categories.

    P.S.---think sweet!!
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  7. kathrynn

    kathrynn Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I learned how to perfect my Briskets by them.  Got some great tips and even "how to add the parsley" to the comp boxes.

  8. so ms smoker

    so ms smoker Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

      It seems the judges  are looking at appearance, texture , and taste. Most judges seem to be local and recently trained so don't go too far off the beaten trail. Recently trained judges are looking for something they know and recognize. Also, spicey doesn't seem to work in your favour. Hope this helps some.

  9. actually yeah it does help...I've kinda stuck with a savory sweet kinda profile with just a tiny bit of kick to cut through it all....it does seem that everything I have seen says to keep it sweet. Thats kinda disapointing to be honest...id like for my other flavors to come out a bit more but I guess thats just me. competition is competition i guess
  10. oh and I did find a guy that I work with that has done plenty of competitions so I am kinda picking at his brain a little....never hurts
  11. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    When we do catering events we have to move a lot of food and equipment. When we do new menus and locations we will actually do a dry run and set everything up and run through how the service will flow. At the end we will pack up the equipment we used and then some other back up equipment. This usually has us in a very good place for what we will need.

    So with that process in mind. Do a set up in your back yard or driveway and run through what is needed and see what you have to go inside for. Then add that to your list of to pack for an event. You can even do test runs with your food and do the same process for ingredients.

    Judging is a very tricky subject. You get all kinds of people who are judges. Most are older folks looking for something cheap to do. So their pallets are very sensitive to salt and spicy food. That is where the sweet tends to rule. The way the FBA does theirs you can have 4-6 people who are very experienced and are consistent, then you get the table next to them and you get one person who woke up on the wrong side of the bed and scores just 1 point lower then the rest of the table. Now the first table may have inferior product, but may score higher then the other table with better product. You will get little or no feedback on what you make. So there is really no way to know what to change for next time. I know that some of the competetors on Pit Master do notlike the format where they hear the feedback, but i love that concept. So when you compete you have to take it with a grain of salt. Don't do the comps to get rich or famous, do it for the love of BBQ and expect nothing in return other then knowing you put out the best you could that run.
  12. JckDanls 07

    JckDanls 07 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Bigsmoken... good luck with your first comp... the main goal is to "have fun" and learn all you can from the veterans... I've done 3 or 4 comps and had a blast... will be doing another one in Jan. here at our local fair....

    Jar... did you go to the FBA State Championship in Mulberry this past weekend ? Doug went and competed in the back yarders division... said he had a good time and learned a few more things....
  13. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    No was not able to make it. I got tied up with family needs.........my girls had their Homecoming dance on Saturday and needed to make sure they were ready and happy......
  14. well sir I can def tell you that I'm not doing this for money or fame, my family, friends, and everyone inbetween who tries my bbq tells me I need to compete. My wife finally got tired of it and told me that I have no choice in the matter and let me get started with building a reverse flow smoker which i am almost done with. I love to bbq and think its gonna be a blast. I cant wait.
  15. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Truer words...........

    I have never done BBQ, but I did for a few years do Chili. There is nothing more important that you go thru a complete cooking before you hit the trail. I would pack up, drive to the shopping center's parking lot, and cook just like I was in a contest. Equipment run, usually donated the chili to the Mission. No going home for items that way. I would also recommend that you do it in the rain. Make your lists, label all your equip containers both taped to the outside and a sheet on the inside. Set up and tear down in order so you know the tarp lines weren't at the bottom of a box put up some where, you know what to look for. Throw a composition book in one of the boxes, list what you see the others doing that intrigues you. ideas, complains, notes.

    Remember you are not cooking for you or your normal customers, if its close to where you live drive over one Sunday and try that towns best. Usually at least 1/2 the judges are home town personalities. Each town is proud of their best and will always tell you were to find it. I was beat in contests by chili I wouldn't have feed to my neighbors dog it was so bad, seriously who puts bell peppers and mushrooms in chili, let alone BEANS?. So don't take it personal. Its about consistency, and it being right that day that its your turn.

    Its nice if you can enjoy it too, I didn't see many who did. Too stressful, too secretive, too nervous, too drunk, too familiar..... Just do your thing because you want to get out on the road, have faith, and keep lighting those pits. Course BBQ might be all different, but then again it might not.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013
  16. I have done a couple of comps with my partner. We are in Idaho and there are not a lot of cookoffs around so we got into a KCBS one for our first (and second) contest.  It was a bit intimidating but we learned a lot!  We did have the opportunity to go to one the year before though and were able to talk to a lot of the competitors.  Do that if at all possible as you can learn a bunch.  In my expierence the people were friendly and willing to talk to you once they knew we were not looking for a free sample.

    I think you are already doing the biggest thing already.  Lots of practice.  I would add to it though you might make sure to note down start and finishing cook times (along with weather conditions) so you can practice for your turn in times.  We also practiced in lots of different weather conditions and temps as well and I think that helped us as we had to learn to contol the smoker temps.

    If you can you might get some containers from a restaurant supply store or even a restaurant and practice building some boxes as well to get an idea of how much time it will take you.  We had never built a box until the first competition but were able to get some pointers.  Harry Soo from Slap Your Daddy that was on BBQ PItmasters was there and ran a short class (for free!) on building boxes and we also got some pointers from the team next too us as well.

    On our second try we also got some advice from a team that we met at the first competition and they helped us get 3rd place in chicken...we beat them.  They just offered us the advice and we listened.  I hope the people you meet at the competitions will be as cool as the ones we have met.  So far everyone we talked to was willing to help a newbie team with some advice so you can probably even pick up some more pointers during the contest.

    In any case keep practicing and have a lot of fun!
  17. pigbark

    pigbark Smoke Blower

    I talk to a lot of pit guys who do Comps, even though I havnt did any yet. . You may win one event and be dead last the next time out.. A lot of new judges out there rite now... The main thing is try to be consistant and don't set their mouth on fire and pray the team before you didn't lol...

    I really enjoy reading about setting up and the practice runs.. good posts , thanks..

  18. I have learned a lot from these and all my posts...it does seem that the main thing that I need to do is practice...so if thats the case I'll be doing a lot of mock comps so that by the time i get to the real thing its second nature and I know my equipment inside and out