If you are planning your first Competition BBQ Contest, there are a few tips that will make your life a little easier. This article and all these resources and competition recipes will give you a starting point – and help you get started in Competition BBQ.
If you are looking for a competition BBQ contest, you can check out your local BBQ Network and search for events. The largest is KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society). But a few of the other popular BBQ networks are IBCA, FBA and MBN. These associations will allow you to search for local competition BBQ contests, get dates and discover the costs of entering a contest.
If the competition BBQ contest offers a “backyard” or a “patio” section, I always suggest entering that division to start. It usually costs less, typically doesn’t require as much as the professional division and it will let you get a feel for competing.
Once you find a Competition BBQ contest and submit your application, it’s time to start planning… It takes more planning than you would expect. Regardless how long you have been cooking BBQ, it’s always a good idea to do a few practice runs so you will be in-sync with the turn-in times of the cooking contest.
If you want to judge a Competition BBQ Contest before you cook in one (which I highly recommend), you need to become a certified judge.
Most Competition BBQ Cooking Contests won’t let you judge unless you are a certified judge (and you can get certified typically by attending a 1-day judging class). So if you want to become a Competition BBQ judge, go to the BBQ network website and sign-up for one of their judging classes. These classes typically fill-up quick… so if you’re interested you need to get on it.
Judging will allow you to see what other people turn in, what judges expect and get you really familiar with all the rules. Plus, you get to eat some really great BBQ.
A Few Words To The Wise about Competing in Competition BBQ…
I don’t care how amazing your grandpa’s BBQ sauce is… or how mouth-watering everyone told you your ribs are… the guys in the professional division have spent years perfecting everything – all the way down to how to place the meat in the turn-in box. They know what the judges like and they cook 20, 30 some of them cook 40 weekends out of the year.
That is why I always suggest entering the “patio” division and then making friends with guys in the professional division and ask them questions so you can get a feel for what the contest is all about.
Believe me, it’s cheaper to make your mistakes and work out your kinks in the amateur division than it is in the professional division.
A Few Things To Remember about Competition BBQ:
When it comes to competition BBQ, preparation is the key. It will make the entire experience more enjoyable if you are prepared for whatever comes your way. You need to set down and make a timeline – and then try your best to stick to it. It can be a huge challenge, trust me I get side tracked sometime.
If you have the time, do all of your meat trimming at home. This is allow in most sanctioned contests – including KCBS – but make sure your Competition BBQ contest allowed you to trim at home before. Not having to trim your meat on contest day saves valuable time plus you can concentrate on cooking instead of being in a rush to get things ready for the smoker.
Have a supply list. When I started out I made a list of everything I needed at home to cook. Bring those supplies with you and nothing else. It’s easy to over pack for a contest and this creates that much more work.
As far as flavors and cooking goes you probably have an idea as to what it takes. Don’t deviate from what you normally do. Judges aren’t looking for anything crazy just BBQ that taste good and is perfectly cooked. I see people all the time making last minute changes. It kills them most if the time. Keeping things simple works. That’s why there’s a lot if one-man teams that do so well.
Never take it so seriously that you forget why your out there in the first place… The main goal of your first Competition BBQ contest should be to keep track of time and get every category turned in on time. At that point it’s in the judges hands. There’s nothing else you can do to change the outcome. Most importantly have a Good Time!