Cooking Ancillary Contests

Almost every BBQ Competition will offer small “side” contests. These are often referred to as Ancillary Contests and they can include anything such as: Beef, Chicken, Seafood, Deserts, Hot Wings, Exotic, BBQ Sauce contests and sometimes you will see Bloody Mary and Margarita contests.

I recommend that newer teams get involved with the ancillaries because it gives you more opportunity to work with scheduling your cooks, building a blind box and getting your entry turned-in on time.

And to be honest, the ancillary categories are a great way to build up confidence and add some nice hardware to your collection. AND… they usually decent pay-out too.

When we first started out, me and several team members would enter every ancillary contest available for any contest.

Winning "Best Port-a-John Decoration” in an Ancillary Contest.

Winning "Best Port-a-John Decoration” in an Ancillary Contest.

Two girls on the team even won a trophy for “Best Port-a-John Decoration”… I kid you not.

And these days, I still enter these ancillary categories – when I can – because I take a lot of pride in being able to cook other items besides just BBQ (and because I love the competition).

It just gives you the opportunity to show off other skills besides being the master of a bbq pit.

It’s not just because they pay out money or offer a trophy, but it’s really a lot of fun. And to be honest with you, they can be a challenge to win.

With the ancillary category, you really have the chance to show-off your creativity just as much as your cooking. Most of the time garnish rules are thrown out. You can arrange your entry any way you see fit, so the sky is the limit in these categories. You can decorate the box anyway you want and turn-in pretty much whatever you want.

I’ve turned in a platter full of “Drunk Chicken”, venison, one team mate turned in duck. We have entered entire cheese cakes, potato salads and even homemade ice cream. Just about anything you can think of can be used in the ancillary categories.

But every contest is different and has rules directing the cook as to how the ancillary entry should be prepared and turned in. I have found that most of the time there is no “meat inspection” for the ancillary categories, and most time… the entries aren’t always expected to be prepared on site.

When we enter beef tenderloin or a seafood entries (blackened amber jack or diver scallops) or really anything you are going to cook on the grill or smoker… of course I’m going to cook them on site. But things like the dessert entries, baked beans or chili are normally prepared at home and brought to the contest.

Ancillary contests are a great categories to get other team members involved and even wives. My wife loves to compete in the dessert and beverage categories, but my Bloody Mary is way better than hers… and she will even agree with me on that one!

My only complaint with Ancillary contest is that Certified Judges aren’t always used in the judging process. Not all contests are able to get CBJ’s to show on Friday night when most of the ancillary categories are judged. I believe it’s fair judging, just sometimes the judges are inexperienced.

Another thing with ancillaries is that you have to be careful and consider your judges when choosing what type of entries will be turned in. Chances are that you may get a judge that doesn’t eat “frog legs” no matter how well you prepare them, or not all of the judges can take the heat of an extra dirty&spicy Bloody Mary. These are factors that need to be planned in advance. I try to stick with entries that everyone will enjoy and not be scared to try.

With ancillaries, it’s not uncommon for you to back some scores that make you go HUH? But honestly, I think that happens to everyone in every category from time to time.

I have several recipe/techniques that I’ll be sharing in the future including Hot Wings, Beef Tenderloin, Venison Back Strap, Diver Scallops, Vinegar Sauce, Mustard Sauce, Bloody Mary’s, and others.

Keep an eye out for them in the near future.

And, as always, if you have any more questions just email me!

Malcom Reed
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