Newbie questions re: competitions

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Original poster
Not that I'm planning to compete right away or anything (although, come to think of it, since I'm in AUSTRALIA, I'd be guaranteed first place, as I'd most likely be the only competitor), but I'm curious: what are the judges looking for in a competition? I know, taste, presentation, etc. etc., but what ABOUT the taste? Are they more interested in the meat itself, or the sauce? Is it the Done Thing to put a rub on the meat, or do most people smoke it without? Just how different can one hunk of smoked pork shoulder be from another?

Sorry if this is the wrong forum, but I couldn't find one that said "general questions".

-- Laura the Homesick American
Laura, I think the answer to your question depends on the regional area you are competing in. I believe in Kansas City they are looking for sweet & sticky BBQ. But here in Texas we have sweet with a little heat kicker behind it. A lot of folks glaze ribs with something like Texas Pepper Jelly. Brisket is less sweet though. "The hotter the better" is not a rule of thumb for BBQ though, save the extra HOT for the chili competitions. You move over to the Carolina's and you'll find a higher acidic content to their BBQ as a lot of their sauces are vinegar based.

I've seen competitors spend extra $$$ on ingredients, that they would never use for home cooking, just for that little something extra to give them an edge. I don't know that it even matters all that much in Texas as the LSBS (Lone Star Barbecue Society) judges are your average Joe that walks in off the street and signs up to be a judge. There is no extra training or requirements other that the willingness to be a volunteer. Now the KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society) has training and certification for judges so they may have more consistent expectations at the judging table. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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