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Meat-Up in Memphis 2021

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More thoughts on competition style bbq

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  • Mark V
    Club Member
    • Oct 2018
    • 243
    • Minnesota

    More thoughts on competition style bbq

    As a home cook and a bbq judge, I have a few more thoughts.

    Chicken. No one is going to cook chicken at home in Parkay, trim them all nice to get the same sizes, scrape the skin, etc. I wonder how this came about. Bite thru is nice, but still. the competition product is not what any home cook thinks of as bbq chicken, in my opinion.

    Pork ribs. Well, good on the tenderness. No one is going to get ribs all the same size, all flat bone. No one is going to always do all the Parkay, brown sugar, and honey, with a sweet sauce to boot. That gets too sweet.

    Pork. Learning how to cook the money muscle is good.

    Brisket. Tenderness is key. I haven't seen cooks go overboard with this for flavor like other categories, overall, not like it becomes a different animal.

    Competition style has become a style that home cooks will not emulate, not even the competition cooks, yet that is what is rewarded?

  • JGo37
    Club Member
    • Apr 2018
    • 1576
    • the LOU
    • Cookers:

      22" Blackstone Griddle, with stand & hood
      CharGriller Portable Firebox - so modified you'll BLOL
      Kitchenaid #810 Charcoal Grill - highly modified
      Weber BI-code Black Performer w/Igniter
      Weber DE-code Red Limited - 'Lucille'


      Ancient heavy CI Propane Turkey Fryer, for lighting chimneys
      BBQ Dragon kettle shelves - 2
      Fyre Dragon Kettle Drippin' Ring, Burnin' Cone & Drippin' Pan - 2 sets
      Fyre Dragon Kettle Ribbin' Ring
      Fyre Dragon Kettle 2-Zone Smokin' Sheet
      OneGrill Rotisserie for the Kitchenaid
      Smoking Tubes: 2x12" & 1x6"
      Weber Gourmet Grill w/Griddle, Pizza Stone & Wok

      My Helpers:

      Anova 900W Sous Vide Cooker w/Radios
      Instant Pot 6Q Duo
      Nesco Tabletop Roaster
      & the PIT!

    As I pointed out on the other thread - 'Bite Thru' upped my chicken game. And that's it...

    I DO add a blop of Irish butter on a seared steak. I DO sometimes squirt liquid butter on THICK beef or pork ribs about 2/3's thru the cook. I think those are strategies from comp cooks? I will also buy an extra rack and comp cut ribs for ~ 6 peeps and let them wonder where and how these ribs came about, and NOW I'll long-cut the other smoked bones for the Meathead Pho recipe. Now I actually have a reason to comp cut beef ribs at home.


    • RonB
      Club Member
      • Apr 2016
      • 12692
      • Near Richmond VA
      • Weber Performer Deluxe
        Pizza insert
        Smokenator 1000
        Cookshack Smokette Elite
        2 Thermapens
        lots of probes.

      The thing I don't understand is how competition cookin' evolved this way. I understand why people did it, but why did judges start rewarding something that they would not do at home? I do understand that the standards have been set for a long time, but how did something you wouldn't cook at home become the awarded standard?


      • Fire Art
        Club Member
        • Jan 2018
        • 988
        • Jackson hole Wyoming

        I win every time I cook


        • jfmorris
          Club Member
          • Nov 2017
          • 3008
          • Huntsville, Alabama
          • Jim Morris

            • Camp Chef FTG900 Flat Top Grill (2020)
            • Weber Genesis II E-410 w/ GrillGrates (2019)
            • Weber Performer Deluxe 22.5" w/ GrillGrates & Slow 'N Sear & Drip ‘N Griddle & Party Q (2007)
            • Custom Built Offset Smoker (304SS, 22"x34" grate, circa 1985)
            • King Kooker 94/90TKD 105K/60K dual burner patio stove
            • Lodge L8D03 5 quart dutch oven
            • Lodge L10SK3 12" skillet
            • Anova
            • Thermoworks Smoke w/ Wifi Gateway
            • Thermoworks Dot
            • Thermoworks Thermapen Classic
            • Thermoworks RT600C
            • Whatever I brewed and have on tap!

          I personally don’t think I would WANT to eat chicken or meat of any sort smothered in parkay the way you describe. I keep thinking of doing the shade tree division of the sanctioned bbq competition here each May, but not sure I can make myself do chicken that way.


          • Nate
            Former Member
            • Apr 2015
            • 3811
            • Quarantined

            That is what is fun about the little unsanctioned backyard competitions at local festivals and such....

            I feel like those judges (usually just local folk) pick what they would like to eat more of... and they tend to eat all of everything put in front of them if it is edible.... although sometimes frustrating because some think the meat should just fall off the bone when it comes to ribs... but hey it is what they like.


            • Huskee
              Pit Boss
              • May 2014
              • 14988
              • central MI, USA
              • Follow me on Instagram, huskeesbarbecue

                Want a free bottle of whiskey? Check out my link to Flaviar.com, you join with it, we both get a $50 bottle free.

                Smokers / Grills
                • Yoder loaded Wichita offset smoker
                • PBC
                • Grilla Silverbac pellet grill
                • Slow 'N Sear Deluxe Kamado (SnSK)
                • Dyna-Glo XL Premium dual chamber charcoal grill
                • Weber 22" Original Kettle Premium (copper)
                • Weber 26" Original Kettle Premium (black)
                • Weber Jumbo Joe Gold (18.5")
                • Weber Smokey Joe Silver (14.5")
                • Brinkmann cabinet charcoal smoker (repurposed)

                • (3) Maverick XR-50: 4-probe Wireless Thermometers
                • (7) Maverick ET-732s
                • (1) Maverick ET-735 Bluetooth (in box)
                • (1) Smoke by ThermoWorks
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                • Thermapen MkII, orange
                • ThermoPop, yellow
                • ThermoWorks ChefAlarm
                • Morpilot 6-probe wireless
                • ThermoWorks Infrared IRK2
                • ThermoWorks fridge & freezer therms as well

                • Instant Pot 6qt
                • Anova Bluetooth SV
                • Kitchen Aide mixer & meat grinder attachment
                • Kindling Cracker King (XL)
                • BBQ Dragon
                • Weber full & half chimneys, Char-Broil Half Time chimney
                • Weber grill topper
                • Slow 'N Sear Original, XL, and SnS Charcoal Basket (for Jumbo Joe)
                • Drip 'N Griddle Pan, 22' Easy Spin Grate, and Elevated Cooking grate, by ABCbarbecue
                • Pittsburgh Digital Moisture Meter

                • Favorite summer beer: Leinenkugels Summer & Grapefruit Shandy, Hamm's, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
                • Fav other beer: DAB, Sam Adams regular, Third Shift amber or Coors Batch 19, Stella Artois
                • Fav cheap beers: Pabst, High Life, Hamm's & Stroh's
                • Most favorite beer: The one in your fridge
                • Wine: Red- big, bold, tannic & peppery- Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauv, Sangiovese, Syrah, etc
                • Whiskey: Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, E.H. Taylor, Blanton's, Old Forester 1870, Elijah Craig, Basil Hayden's. Neat please.
                • Scotch: Current favorite- The Arran (anything by them), Glenmorangie 12yr Lasanta, sherry cask finished. The Balvenie Double Wood, also like Oban 18yr, and The Glenlivet Nadurra (Oloroso sherry cask finished) among others. Neat please.

                About me
                Real name: Aaron
                Location: Farwell, Michigan- near Clare. (dead center of lower peninsula)

                • Healthcare- Licensed & Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) for MidMichigan Health, a University of Michigan Health System.

              All of this has turned me completely off from wanting to compete. I originally intended to, bought shirts, became a judge, the whole nine yards. But the rules of judging and what the judges expect and all that is just not up my alley. I personally feel a BBQ competition shouldn't be about butter loaf chicken biscuits and a $300 brisket just to try to please judges who are trained that real cooking doesn't matter, but pooled sauce and plant life is what matters. Boo.

              I came to the conclusion that I get WAY more enjoyment cooking real chicken and $50 Costco briskets for friends and family who love it because I made it and invited them over, plus they bring the wine...so win win!


              • Livermoron
                Livermoron commented
                Editing a comment
                Bingo. I took a couple of CBBQA courses. I figured out that I didn't want to get into competition (although I'd still love to serve on teams here and there) and I wanted to cook stuff that would encourage gatherings of people I care about. Someone else can do the parkay squirts and parsley arranging...

              • EdF
                EdF commented
                Editing a comment
                It's all about our personal rewards. Different strokes, as I said on some other thread. There's room for all, and BBQ will bring whirled peas (I mean world peace).
            • Thom Emery
              Former Member
              • Sep 2014
              • 447
              • Indio Ca

              If you can cook a IBCA sanctioned event try it
              half chickens
              pork spares
              sometimes pork
              judged by ppl
              not “certified judges”


              • CandySueQ
                CandySueQ commented
                Editing a comment
                Cut my chicken in half this morning for a BCA event (Louisiana IBCA)! Just plain fun.
            • Steve R.
              Club Member
              • Jul 2016
              • 2314
              • Elizabethtown, KY
              • Current line-up of cookers: Weber 26" kettle w/ SnS and BBQ Guru adapter; Weber Smokey Mountain 22" w/ Guru adapter.

              The reality is that the good trainers in those judging classes will tell you to forget what you see on those Pit Master type shows and what to really focus on. But when you have competitions where 100 or so teams are submitting samples, you only want to take one or two bites of each in order to get through it. So teams try to get a whole meal's worth of "wow" in that one or two bites. Eventually, that becomes the expectation, officially or not.


              • Mosca
                Mosca commented
                Editing a comment
                Came here to say this. Well written.
            • Santamarina
              Club Member
              • Aug 2018
              • 733
              • Wildomar, CA

              My assumption is that comps are looking to get all the flavor of a whole meal you’d cook at home into one bite. I totally understand how it evolved, not so hot on why.

              I’m also passionate about home brewed beer. Beer comps often favor more aggressively flavored beers, but not nearly to the extent that barbecue does. Winning beers are very often something I’d like to have a full pint of, if not multiples.

              This is why why I’ll never enter a barbecue comp...I cook food my family and friends like. Period.


              • Mosca
                Mosca commented
                Editing a comment
                Dale’s is a good beer. I haven’t tried the other one you mention.

              • Santamarina
                Santamarina commented
                Editing a comment
                Mosca You’re absolutely right. It’s often hard to find simple, pure versions of styles. I do enjoy the great variety of craft beer available today; this is a GREAT time to be a beer drinker! Yet I agree it’s hard to find “just” a Pilsner (that isn’t 8% ABV) or “just” a stout (that doesn’t have cocoa nibs and walrus bladder).

              • Santamarina
                Santamarina commented
                Editing a comment
                Big and bold flavors usually win out, but I find the exception more often in beer than barbecue.
            • randy56
              Club Member
              • Aug 2017
              • 446
              • Newburgh In

              Having done about 20 comp cook's and becoming a certified, judge, I do not cook at home like you do at comp's unless it's a practice cook. Now, I'm done doing competitions, It has made me a better cook.


              • CandySueQ
                CandySueQ commented
                Editing a comment
                I agree 100%! The folks I cook for everyday have told me that I am a better cook for doing competitions.
            • Frozen Smoke
              Club Member
              • Nov 2017
              • 1528
              • Northern Mn

              The one thing I get asked most often at my catering events is do I do competition cooking and if I don't why not? I usually hold back telling people what I really think and just answer with no I don't really have time for that. Which in and of itself is true.
              I've never understood it from several standpoints. One being if you have to travel any distance which many teams do the prize money if you're even lucky enough to win does not even cover your costs to get to and into the contest.

              Secondly who's to judge? Everyone's taste is as unique as your DNA. I know the judges here all cook their own but there are many out there who took the one day class to be a judge have had no experience with BBQ outside of eating at Famous Dave's.

              And lastly and most importantly to me anyhow is I could never bring myself to do the things to a piece of meat that they do in competitions. All the sugar, honey, butter, sauce. injections, rubs applied several times etc. There is no meat involved. What was once meat is turned into a vehicle to deliver the myriad of all the stuff that is applied. Might as well suck all that stuff off a sponge.

              I'm old school and a believer in the KISS approach which I think we all know what KISS stands for. I feel a responsibility to the animal to turn it's parts and pieces into the best BBQ I'm capable of and maintaining the natural flavor of the meat as intended.

              I admit I use to watch the competition shows on tv strictly for the entertainment value. I've watched them once take beautiful Wagyu briskets and put them in a pan and proceed to dump brown sugar, honey and butter onto them. I actually felt offended and told my wife that that is downright disrespectful to the animal that brisket came from!

              But that's just me!


              • Lock Stock and Barrel
                Lock Stock and Barrel commented
                Editing a comment
                Your analysis is spot on. Should all of us learn to cook competition meat with tons of gunk on it when Aaron Franklin uses salt and pepper on a brisket and is world famous!

              • mrteddyprincess
                mrteddyprincess commented
                Editing a comment
                The requirements for becoming a judge are to pay money, take the class, and be able to swallow food.
            • jecucolo
              Club Member
              • Nov 2015
              • 1246
              • Schertz Texas
              • Pit Barrel Cooker
                Slow 'n Sear for 22" Kettle
                Weber 22" Kettle (Craiglist)
                Slow 'n Sear for 22" Kettle
                Weber Rapid Fire Chimney
                Maverick ET-732
                Kingsford Original Charcoal
                Kingsford Competition Charcoal
                Anova Sous Vide

              I have been to a few and the sanctioned ones are different. Most teams are sponsored meaning very little out of pocket expense and most teams compete weekly or monthly. The ones I find fun are the non-sanctioned ones.
              Another thing is the competition is really like a sport. It isn’t just about cooking but execution of your skills. Probably the only way to take competition cooking out of the semiprofessionals is remove the cash rewards and simply offer bragging rights and trophies.

              it is fun it is just a different kind of fun!


              • Mosca
                Charter Member
                • Oct 2014
                • 3358
                • PA
                • Large Big Green Egg, Weber Performer Deluxe, Weber Smokey Joe Silver, Maverick 732, DigiQ, and too much other stuff to mention.

                The best meals are the ones where you take that "cooks privilege" taste and your eyes widen and you think, "Holy ...., that is insane!"

                Probably wouldn't win a medal, though. But still 'n all.


                • Steve R.
                  Club Member
                  • Jul 2016
                  • 2314
                  • Elizabethtown, KY
                  • Current line-up of cookers: Weber 26" kettle w/ SnS and BBQ Guru adapter; Weber Smokey Mountain 22" w/ Guru adapter.

                  Agree with all the above. I will say that the benefit of going through a few competitions is that you learn how to get better control over your process, whether you really prefer the outcome or not. Knowing what to tweak to get just the flavor profile or texture you want is pretty important. And those skills will definitely transfer to cooking at home.


                  • Santamarina
                    Santamarina commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Knowing *how* to achieve a certain flavor profile is indeed a worthy goal. The “competition profile” may not be ideal for an entire meal, but the process helps hone the skill - even when done outside of a competition!



                Meat-Up in Memphis 2021

                WE'RE SELLING OUT FAST! Less than 10 seats available. Secure your spot by booking now!
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                Meat-Up in Memphis



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