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Is a cooking class necessary?

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    Is a cooking class necessary?

    Quick answer -- No! There's so much information out here (especially at AmazingRibs.com!) that you can do your own research and plan your own competition cooking way. You can spend the money you'd spend taking a class on meats for practice and maybe even an entry fee for a "test" contest.

    Long answer -- yes, if you have the funds to expend. You're getting the benefit of lots of first hand experience from the perspective of an (assumed) successful barbeque competitor. I confess -- I took a class from Dr. BBQ, Ray Lampe, in Effingham, IL way back in 2004. Looking back at the roster of attendees and their success on the BBQ circuit, I am honored to have been in their midst. The main information I gained -- the basis of a winning pork recipe and timing for a contest (when to put stuff on), testing for doneness and how to hold.

    Would I take another class? You betcha! In fact, I'm taking Warren County Pork Choppers class in January. Donny and Tory Bray (and crew) have achieved Team of the Year in KCBS this year and tied for the honor last year. I expect to learn a lot.

    #2
    I've always wanted to do a true BBQ cooking class! I love to learn and see different techniques. We have a Sur La Table store so I try to take a few classes a year. I took one for Tamale making past Saturday. So one of the dishes I will make for Christmas this year will be Tamales but the filling will be with pulled pork I will smoke.

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    • CandySueQ
      CandySueQ commented
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      Yum!

    #3
    I would like to take a class, one day. I'm always looking for ways to learn new techniques and to help fine tune my own style.

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      #4
      I've definitely been thinking about signing up for a BBQ class, especially with Harry Soo being nearby. But how do you guys feel about being "classically trained" to learn the basics first, whether that's as a chef's apprentice or in a culinary program? For example, I always hear Tuffy Stone being referred as French trained. Does it matter so much to BBQ to have this baseline understanding of the culinary arts or are they entirely different beasts?

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        #5
        I think is it basically the same beast with different terminology. The main difference is energy/ heat source.
        I'd like to take a class too, BBQ or otherwise.
        Most chefs throw out these fancy names and you later come to find out that it's some technique that grandma used back in the day.

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          #6
          Best money I ever spent was on a BBQ class taught by the 3 Eyz BBQ Team from Owings Mills, MD. The class I took gave me a great foundation to build on as a backyard pitmaster. They were good about explaining the difference between competition cooking and home entertaining, and explained the why as well as the how. Gave alternative methods to their techniques with explanations for why certain teams cook the way they do, and I felt like I understood the principles of cooking (different fat types, some that render and some that don't, for example). You can learn a lot from a team because they cook ALL THE TIME. They've got their process down, and have usually been there and done that so they can answer all sorts of questions about meat prep and selection, fuel choice, cooker choice, temperature control, etc.

          One benefit is that you meet other BBQ enthusiasts at all levels of play. I made some solid friendships in my class, and we could all share experiences about techniques and equipment. Guys and gals who cook on Eggs, Cheap Offsets, WSMs, Backwoods Smokers, etc. Some who compete and some who don't.

          The class I attended came with food, door prizes, demonstrations, and product samples. Of course, you learn from your classmates where to source hardwood, meats, etc. as well. Found a great butcher I didn't know existed.

          I also recommend taking a basic butchering class if you can find a shop that will offer a basics class for you and 4-5 friends.

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          • CandySueQ
            CandySueQ commented
            Editing a comment
            I bet that 3 Eyz class was a good one! A butchering class would be interesting. Chris Coppell, Dizzy Pig, would be someone I'd pay to listen to as well.

          #7
          Wow. That sounds awesome! I'll have to investigate this in my neck of the woods. This would be ideal for me to learn more in a relaxing environment and get the wife involved. We both love to cook, but so far grilling and smoking is something she has shown no interest in - other than the final products, anyway. Now that I think of it she asked me to go a baking class hosted by a local bakery during restaurant week earlier this year. Looks like a compromise is in order. Wait - what happens if she figures out she can bake pound cakes, pies and cookies in my PBC? Lol

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            #8
            I think school learning is fine. Know lots of "classically trained" chefs and I'm a bit envious actually. But back in the schooling years I thought I'd be a teacher so that's what I studied. I don't believe that a person has to be trained to be a great cook. And eaters will choose based on food, not necessarily the cook that produced it.

            A real eye-opener for me was the pre-test for ServSafe certification. I just thought I knew about food and food handling. I am very proud to be ServSafe certified, last test I only missed 2 questions.

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