Quick Recipes and Easy

Get Cookin’ in BBQ Competitions!

Unless you live just outside Timbucktu, there are BBQ competitions going on close to you. The two types of cookoffs are sanctioned (“pro”) and unsanctioned (“backyard cooks”). The sanctioned cookoffs are events that are “certified” by the KCBS (Kandas City BBQ Assoc.), MIM (Memphis im May), FBA (Florida bbq Assoc.) or one of the many other groups that sponser these events. Unsanctioned events are often held in conjunction with town festivals and fairs. These typically have lower entry fees, your food is fed to the public as opposed to certified judges and no “membership” in any organization is necessary.

Most competitors start out in the backyard category before entering the sanctioned events. The experience is so unique and enjoyable that many get hooked straight away. I have met some of my best friends, eaten the best food and gotten some awesome bbq tips at cookoffs. Keeping in mind that we are competing against each other for money and bragging rights shows the right spirit of the folks on the circuit.

Getting started competing in sanctioned events is simple. First you have to join the association that holds events in your area. Do a Google search and look at the websites for their schedule. Most sites have a full year’s worth listed for you to see if that is the one you want to join. The KCBS has more events widely scattered across the country than the others. It has the most members, is growing quicker, and is the one I belong to. The registration fee is $35 which allows you to compete in any of it’s events (average $250 entry fee), take it’s classes ($35 to $50) and receive the monthly newspaper in the mail.

The first step after registering that I recommend is taking a judging class. The 6 hours you spend learning about required appearance, taste and texture will not only make you a better cook, but certify you to judge others as well. Once you are a certified judge you can offer your “services” to the events in your area. There has long been a shortage of certified judges, typically over 50 are needed for each cookoff, and having “100% certified judges” is the goal of the organizers.

After taking the class, be sure to judge an event or two before competing. This allows you to see what the entrants are turning in, so you know what the judges are seeing. As a competitor, you have no thought what the guy in the next booth is presenting to the judges, and this allows you to get a look at what other cooks are turning in. All top finishing bbq teams have at least one certified judge on them, and this is considered a prerequisite to staying in the top 10.

Now you are ready to enter an event. Make sure to make a list of everything you will need You can find “starter” lists at many bbq websites. Check the weather forecast beforehand and get there early to pick your space. The best spots I have had are on pavement under the afternoon shade. Just because it is under the tree at 8 AM when you choose that site does not mean you will be in the shade that afternoon. Excellent luck in your venture into our bbq “sub culture”, you will not regret this, believe me!

Mike Gerardy
probbq.net www.probbq.net
I am the author of Champion BBQ Secrets. I am a certified KCBS judge as well as a top 10 competitor in GA, TN, and NC.

probbq.net probbq.net

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