Tag Archives: KCBS BBQ Judge

BBQ in Bulk: Judging the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour

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For those of you keeping up with the competition circuit, you’re probably aware of the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour.  Sam’s Club has partnered with KCBS in putting on a BBQ tournament.  Teams compete in 25 local and regional contests throughout the country for the opportunity to travel to Bentonville, AR to compete in a national contest.  With over $400,000 in total prize money dispersed at all of the events, many teams jumped at the chance to enter.

I was able to get in and judge at the Greensboro, NC contest.  This contest was a feeder to the regional event in Laurel, MD.  Thirty teams were present at this event (as is the case for all local Sam’s Club events).  Since my wife had to be in Raleigh by 9:00am, we decided to carpool.  What does this mean?  I got there WAY ahead of the 9:30am start for judges check-in.  I was able to go around and get a few pictures.

Later that morning, several of us judges assisted in putting together the trophies for this competition.

Now on to the food!  Overall, I thought the food was about on par for a good competition.  There were some entries that were middle of the road, and there were some entries that were absolutely excellent!  Only one of the entries was below what I expected for good competition BBQ.

For the event itself, I was concerned that there would just be the focus on the competition aspect.  However, when I arrived, I found at least 3 or 4 different entities there that were either demoing cooking or touting the heavenly qualities of meat.  In between judging entries, I peeked outside of the judging area and saw steady crowds checking out the area.  So my worries were for naught.

If you want to view more photos taken at the event, you can go to the photo album on my Facebook page.  All in all, the event went well!  Big thanks to the organizers, Jerry and Joyce Gardner, as well as the KCBS representatives, Don and Debbie Harwell.  This event was lucky in that the organizers had ample time to work out any kinks demonstrated at earlier events in the series.  Would I want to judge this again?  Yeah, I would.


A Sooie’t Time in Greer, SC

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So far in my KCBS Certified Barbecue Judge journey, I’ve had the opportunity to judge at well-known and established events such as the SC Festival of Discovery.  My journey now goes to the other end of the spectrum just 65 miles up the road from Greenwood, SC to the town of Greer, SC for the 1st Annual Sooie’t Relief BBQ Benefit!

Sooie't Relief BBQ Benefit

Sooie't Relief BBQ Benefit

The contest and festival is the brain child of the Greer Relief and Resources Agency.  Chartered in 1936, the mission of the Greer Relief and Resources Agency is to provide emergency assistance to families and individuals in Greer and its surrounding towns.  All proceeds from Sooie’t Relief BBQ Benefit go directly to aiding the agency’s mission.  The contest drew 27 competitors from as far away as Ohio.

BBQ Teams

BBQ Teams

As a judge, I confess to being a bit nervous.  This competition was a first-year contest, so I anticipated there being quite a few problems and snags.  Boy… was I ever wrong!  From this judge’s perspective, everything went as smoothly as it possibly could.

The venue for judging was The Cazbah, a tapas bar located in the heart of downtown Greer.  The decor of the restaurant provided a very different atmosphere for judging that I am normally accustomed to experiencing.

And, as with every competition, you always meet some characters…

This competition had the extra little touches that made the judging experience top-notch!  Some examples of this include providing each judge with a small cloth towel to use in wiping sauce off of their fingers and having volunteers walk around to each table to collect trash.  The judging process went so smoothly that no one would have been able to tell that this was a first-year event!

So I offer my sincerest thanks to all of the volunteers that made this event possible.  In particular, I want to especially thank Caroline Robertson and Thomas Wells for the extra special attention that was paid to the event!  Also a big thanks goes out to the two KCBS representatives for this event — George and Donna Baroody.

I know what you’re all asking…  how was the food?  Overall, the entries that I sampled were not quite up to par with entries at other contests.  The flavors were good.  However, the tenderness was off.  I had the chance to talk to a few teams after the competition.  The ones I talked to all mentioned that today’s cook was not an easy cook, and that things seemed to take longer to cook today than normal.

In addition to talking with the teams, I got to meet up with some blog readers.  I really appreciate you guys reading the stuff that I write, and I had an absolute blast!

Results from the competition were not available as of the time that this blog post was written.  However, when they are made available, they will be published on the KCBS website.  I was also able to get a few pictures.  You can view them on the Facebook page for Big Wayner’s BBQ Blog.  If you have any photos from this event, I’d love to add them to that album as well!

So as a judge, would I recommend this event to other judges?  ABSOLUTELY!!!

KCBS Judging Escapades: SC Festival of Discovery

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I was really excited when I found out that I had been selected to judge at the SC Festival of Discovery.  There were several reasons for this…

  1. I knew this competition had been featured on Food Network, so it’s a very well known competition.
  2. As a result of it being a very well known competition, there would surely be some big names in competition BBQ present at the competition.
  3. Who needs another reason?  It’s BBQ!
The competition was the largest that I have judged to date, so I was a bit nervous about it.  My worst fear was that it was going to be absolute chaos and totally disorganized.  However, my fears were soon put to rest.  There were 4 different representatives present (including one member of the Board of Directors), and the event coordinator did a spectacular job keeping everything organized so that we could concentrate on judging.  
Sometimes the entries are hit and miss, and sometimes everything is outstanding.  Today was one of those days where the majority of entries to our table was excellent.  There were a couple of entries that slightly disappointed me, but overall I left very full!
After the contest, I decided to walk around for a bit and try to chit-chat with some of the teams.  Two of the teams I got to talk to for an extended period of time were QUAU and Lotta Bull BBQ.  I’m sure that after a long day, the last thing they wanted to do was to talk to a judge who is also a blogger.  However, both teams were very pleasant to talk with, and I certainly appreciated that!
I’m already looking forward to putting in my application for this contest next year!
The overall top 10 results are below.  You can view the overall results on the KCBS website.
  1. Lotta Bull BBQ
  2. QUAU
  3. Holy Smokes
  4. Pickin’ Porkers
  5. Wicked Que
  6. Killer B’s BBQ
  7. Pig Whisperers
  9. Pack-A-Smokes
  10. Screamin Nite Hog BBQ
 Before I left, I was able to get a couple of photos (although not as many as I wanted).  Check ’em out below!

An Apology to Backyard BBQers

This is one of those times where I will gladly take my slice of humble pie.  With a scoop of ice cream, if you please…  😉

I had my 2nd KCBS judging gig yesterday at Hog Happenin’ in Lincolnton, NC. This two-day celebration combines a bike festival with a KCBS-sanctioned competition all located in the heart of downtown Lincolnton, NC.  As much as I would have loved to browse around the various vendors and bikes present, I was there for one reason: the ‘cue!

I signed in and took my spot at my assigned table.  After fraternizing with other judges for a while, it was time for the judges’ meeting.  In that meeting, it was announced that the backyard division (or amateur division) would be judged at the same time as the professional division, and one lucky table would be devoted to judging all of those entries.  Guess whose table was the lucky one?  If you said my table, then come claim your prize now!

Immediately the grumbling began.  We were all worried that the food that we would be judging was going to, for lack of a better term, suck.  I think all of us had hopes of getting to taste an entry from such teams as Checkered Pig BBQ and Cool Smoke.  Instead, we would be tasting a bunch of sub-part BBQ.  Or so we thought…

And, as you guessed, we all thought wrong!  Overall, that was some of the downright best BBQ I have tasted.  And, as a fat boy, I’ve eaten my fair share of BBQ.  So even though I didn’t get to judge the pros, I still had a very good time!  I got to see some familiar faces from my very first judging gig at Kings Mountain, NC as well as meet some new faces.

Overall, I was happy with how the judges were treated for this competition, and I will absolutely apply to judge this event next year!  If you are interested in seeing the results from this competition, they are available on the KCBS website.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to eating my humble pie now…