Tag Archives: KCBS

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.

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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!!!

Pigging Out at Franklin, NC

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It’s another judging adventure!  This adventure takes me into the mountains of Franklin, NC for the Mountain High BBQ & Music Festival.

Franklin, NC

Franklin, NC

Located approximately 3 1/2 hours from Charlotte, NC, Franklin is nestled in the Appalachian mountains just minutes from the Georgia state line.  The contest was held at the Wayne Proffitt Agricultural Center.  There were a grand total of 52 teams entered in this contest.  The festival also featured a car show and other attractions such as a cornhole tournament and several performance artists.

Car show

Car show

Competition area

Competition area

With every KCBS competition I have judged thus far, the theme has been the same in regards to the judges: seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones.  I can’t continue to stress how that barbecue people are just the nicest people on the planet by far!  I enjoy this aspect of the competition almost as much as I enjoy tasting the entries.  😉

Speaking of the entries…  I knew that the table I was at would be in for some good food when I took the first bite of the first chicken entry and was completely wowed!  Overall, the entries that came across my table were very good!  I was certainly not disappointed.

For the most part, the weather was not too terribly hot!  Just prior to brisket turn-in at 1:30pm, a torrential downpour came through the area that lasted about 15 minutes.  After that rainstorm, it was really, really humid!  Also, parking was very much at a premium.  At times navigating through traffic proved to be quite tricky.  Other than that, I thought the competition went pretty well.

For a few minutes prior to judging, I decided to check out some of the vendors.  As I was making my rounds, I came across an area for BBQSuperStars.com.  This site is a great resource for all things BBQ ranging from instructional videos to in-depth interviews with some of the most prominent teams on the BBQ circuit.  After judging, I got to meet the man behind BBQSuperStars.com, Darryl Mast!  And here’s proof.

Big Wayner and Darryl from BBQSuperStars.com

Big Wayner and Darryl from BBQSuperStars.com

Hope you enjoyed my ramblings on my latest judging adventure!  I’ll be judging a first-year contest in two weeks in Greer, SC!  Let me know if you’ll be there because I’d sure like to meet you!

I do have more pictures posted on the Facebook page for Big Wayner’s BBQ Blog.  You can get to the Facebook page by going to http://www.facebook.com/bigwaynersbbq.

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…

In the Trenches: Competing at a KCBS-Sanctioned Competition

It all started in early 2010.  A couple of friends and I heard of a charity BBQ cook-off going on in Charlotte, and we decided to enter.  We entered 2 of the 4 categories and ended up taking 2nd place in both categories.  The competition bug bit me.

Fast forward almost a year, and I get another opportunity to help out on a competition team.  This time, the stakes are much bigger.  About two weeks ago, I got the opportunity to be a part of the Sir Porkalot BBQ team (@SirPorkaLot on Twitter) that competed at the BBQ Capital Cook-off in Lexington, NC (a KCBS-sanctioned competition).  I arrived with huge ambitions and an eagerness to learn.

There were a lot of well-known BBQ teams present at this competition, so I admit to being a bit starstruck.  Every one of the teams that I spoke with were very down to earth, friendly, and welcoming.  Even one of the most famous people in terms of competition barbecue (Tuffy Stone of Cool Smoke) took time out to talk to me for at least a good 10-15 minutes.  Again, BBQ people are some of the friendliest on the face of this planet.

In short, many good times were had.  The banter flowed (as did the beer).  The food was excellent.  The sleep… well, there wasn’t much of that going on.  Overall, it was a great experience!  Anyone who can cook four different kinds of meat overnight to turn in at 30 minute intervals the next day has all the respect in the world in my book.  And even though the team may not have placed where we liked, I feel it’s a one-of-a-kind experience to be an active team member!

Oh yeah, don’t think for one minute that I forgot to go and take pictures!  There are several of those, but I’ve uploaded them to Facebook.  So you can view the pictures here.  And if you haven’t added me on Facebook, add me here!

Confessions of a First-Time KCBS Judge

As a lot of you probably already know, I like barbecue a little bit.  If you didn’t know that… well now you know.  In October of last year, I finally broke down and joined the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS).  Soon after joining, I learn that there would be a judging class in November of that same year not too far from where I live.  I took the class and joined that elite society known as KCBS judges.

With my newly anointed judgedom, I set off in search of competitions to which I could apply to be a judge.  One of the first competitions I was accepted to judge for was the Firehouse BBQ Cookoff in Kings Mountain, NC.  For those who are interested in the results, you can find them here.  As the day grew closer, I started to get a little more nervous.  Even though the judging class was very thorough in covering what to expect for judging a competition, I was still not sure what to expect.

For those of you who do not know, KCBS-sanctioned competitions have four main meat categories: chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket.  These categories are judged according to set criteria.  Each individual contest may have additional ancillary categories, but they each have the four meats.

Once I walked in and was given my assigned table, it was like an episode of Cheers — where everyone knows your name.  The others at the same table as me were all very friendly and pleasant to talk to and made this newcomer feel welcome!  Once again, my perception of BBQ people being absolutely genuine held true!

Now to my opinions on the food… it was all excellent!  Each piece of chicken, rib, serving of pork, and brisket was all very tasty.  Obviously some were more tasty than others.  The one thing I did notice — especially with ribs and chicken — is that an overly sweet sauce was used as a glaze on the meat.  Now I don’t mind sauce on chicken or ribs… but the sauces seem to take away from the meat rather than enhance it.  The sauces seem to be just sweet and didn’t really have any depth to them.  I’m not sure if this is a trend in competitions nowadays.  Maybe one of the competitors can give me some insight into it.

All in all, the money and time invested in becoming a judge was absolutely worth it!  The Firehouse BBQ Cookoff was well organized and fun to judge.  I’m looking forward to future competitions and hopefully applying to judge the Firehouse BBQ Cookoff again!