Getting started in BBQ competitions is a whole different animal than most folks imagine. It is not one big party. This is not cooking for friends and family or for fans in the backyard. This is a tightly structured competition that is all about pleasing the judges.
It is the teams that take it seriously that come out on top at BBQ competitions. There are many, many details to get right to take home a prize, so many details that competition rookies often find themselves overwhelmed. Avoid that by following this guide on getting started in BBQ competitions.
Get a Team Together
This is the first step to entering the world of competitive barbecuing. It does not matter how excellent a cook is; if one person tries to take on a completion solo, then they have a hard time competing against teams. Many hands make light work after all.
The tightly timed structure of the judged barbecue world means that it will be a struggle to get things done. No matter how tight the game plan is, every contest seems to provide some kind of challenge to overcome.
Something might not fire right. Wind could blow rub all over. Supplies can get lost, knocked over, contaminated. Every competition will have a moment where the team needs to come together to overcome adversity. This kind of moment will almost automatically knock a person going it alone out of the contest.
Drill, Drill, Drill
Once a good team is together, they need to practice consistently to be properly prepared for the grueling competitive format. This format dictates when the competitors can start and stop all parts of the cooking process. Failure to get the meat to its optimum condition is a frequent occurrence. Teams that go through practice runs can avoid this fate.
Practice in the backyard or a parking lot somewhere. Bring everything to the cooking area. Do not go back indoors. Make this just like the competition format. If something gets left behind, figure out a way to improvise.
Be very strict about taking out the meat when the competition timer goes off. Sample the results, and get the opinions of as many friends and family as possible. Be sure to ask them to be harsh and specific with their criticisms.
After going through a few practice runs and getting a lot of feedback, teams become much more comfortable with the format of the contest. This breeds confidence that is a tremendous asset when the pressure comes on during the competition.
Once the contest rolls around, everything must be prepared down to the finest detail. Know the contest rulebook forwards and backward. Triple check the supplies before leaving for the competition. Make sure to bring enough of the essentials to get by if something gets lost or contaminated. Make sure that all the cooking gear is working properly. Check the weather forecast to see if there are any potential problems that need to be prepared for.
When arriving at the competition, get everything in place and ready to go right away. Do this before socializing. Don’t get to the contest and just start drinking right away. Too many good barbecue teams get sidetracked this way. Avoid this fate by getting to work from the moment of arrival at the venue. Once everything is set up and underway, then the fun can begin.
Strike a Balance
Fun is really what it’s all about. Prepare hard, and compete hard. Remember to make friends with the other competitors and have a blast. Just don’t drink too much. This is a contest that is about doing well. Don’t let the good times get in the way of doing well. This will lead to regrets down the road.
The best contests are always a perfect balance of having fun and performing beautifully. Strike this perfect balance and BBQ competitive greatness awaits. After all, the party at the end of the weekend is always the most fun for the winners.