Starting from scratch!

All other competition related questions or comments about recipes, techniques, and related topics.

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theirishbbqer
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Starting from scratch!

Postby theirishbbqer » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:12 pm

Hey fellow bbqers! I am new to this forum and to the world of bbq cookoffs. I live in the Houston, TX area and my friends and I are starting to get serious about entering into bbq cook off events. At this point we do not have much experience but are willing to learn.

I myself am a big foodie and amateur chef, in other words I love to cook food, eat food, study recipes, the whole works. When it comes to bbqing some of my friends have more of a talent than I do but I am continue to work on my bbq craft!

So here is where we need help. How does a group get started in bbq cook off events? Do we have a cook off among ourselves first and critique each other on various levels (type of meat used, what we used to make our bbq sauces, technique of grilling such as using wood vs charcoal, etc.)? Or do we just enter into a small bbq cook off event and work our way up? Any help you more seasoned bbqers out there could give us would be great; in fact at this point I think we would be willing to listen to anyone who had some sound advice for us in this area!

Looking forward to the discussion and thanks for helping out!

Sincerely,
The Irish Bbqer :chef:
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby RangerJ » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:22 pm

My guess is you will get as many responses / variations to this as "fat side up vs fat side down."

Most folks will tell you to head out to a cook off and observe, though honestly, if you don't get a team to allow you to observe your not really seeing much. Some teams will allow you to help out during the event so that you can get the feel of what goes on. This is the method I went with, then I just jumped in with both feet and the water has been fine.

Many say go judge first, then you can see what is being turned in, whats good what's bad etc. Others will say take a BBQ class from some of the more successful teams who offer them ( Redneck Cooker offers one and he is a member here).

Again, I observed once and just dove in. I had two ugly drum smokers and one EZ UP all packed in the back of my Tundra and cooked 7 events my first year using that set up. It may not be the preferred method but they say hands on experience is the best way to learn for quite a few folks, I think I fall into that category.

I say "Just do It" because once you do, you'll be hooked!

What part of Houston?
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby ecto1 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:23 pm

Now I am not the most seasoned but I can tell you what I wish I did. I just entered a contest and got lucky my first go around. I should have gone to a few contest and hung out before I even though of entering one because no matter how much you prepare something is going to go wrong. I am in the Houston area also most of the cook offs here are Texas Gulf Coast BBQ cookers association look up there website and go to a cook off and volunteer to judge. Once you do this you will know what your bbq will need to taste like to place. You will find some IBCA cook offs in Houston as well that is the International BBQ Cookers Association. Lots of cookoff in the area between the two. You will find the majority of them are in the fall and the spring when the weather is a little cooler. If you ever want to just hangout at a cookoff friday night are the fun nights and Saturdays are a little more serious if you Ever See Fat Ash BBQ at one come on by and have a beer with us. You will find most bbq events are filled with great people all looking to have a fun time.
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby Papa Tom » Sun Jul 17, 2011 3:13 pm

Welcome Irish glad ya joined up.
I concur with the advice already given.
I will say that Redneck's BBQ class is well worth the the time and rubles. I believe he is going to do one in the Houston area too however if you don't go to one in Glen Rose you will not get the ELC experience.
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theirishbbqer
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby theirishbbqer » Sun Jul 17, 2011 5:52 pm

Papa Tom wrote:Welcome Irish glad ya joined up.
I concur with the advice already given.
I will say that Redneck's BBQ class is well worth the the time and rubles. I believe he is going to do one in the Houston area too however if you don't go to one in Glen Rose you will not get the ELC experience.



What is the ELC?

@RangerJ: The ClearLake area.
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby 3 star redneck » Sun Jul 17, 2011 5:57 pm

theirishbbqer wrote:
Papa Tom wrote:Welcome Irish glad ya joined up.
I concur with the advice already given.
I will say that Redneck's BBQ class is well worth the the time and rubles. I believe he is going to do one in the Houston area too however if you don't go to one in Glen Rose you will not get the ELC experience.



What is the ELC?

@RangerJ: The ClearLake area.

ELc = El Loco Coyote bbq shack, bout 2 miles from me......great food and enormous portions... :shock: :shock:
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby Que'a Syde » Sun Jul 17, 2011 8:02 pm

Im also waiting for his Houston Cook class... :deadhorse: Im just not sure when or if it will happen...casue the stars and planets of the bbq gods have to alighn JUST right... :geek:
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby TXLNGHRN » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:18 am

You need to practice the main 3. Brisket, Ribs and Chicken.
Chicken is usually a half, unless it's a ctba, then it's any piece of chicken, though most use thighs.
Practice cooking and being done by your turn in time. This will help greatly when you get to a comp.
I'd say stick to LSBS or IBCA sanctioned cook offs. The rules are pretty much the same.
Cook what you like. If you have a culinary background then you may have a leg up on us back yard cooks.

There's tons of post on here on cooking everything you can imagine. Use the search and start reading. Lots of great info on here.
There's checklist of what you need to take to a cook off, what judges may look for, how turn in trays look etc....

Good Luck!
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby 3 star redneck » Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:29 am

Que'a Syde wrote:Im also waiting for his Houston Cook class... :deadhorse: Im just not sure when or if it will happen...casue the stars and planets of the bbq gods have to alighn JUST right... :geek:

Dont know if thats every gonna happen.....would like it to...but.. :dont: ...

going to a comp school is a great investment...it will save you months of frustration and get you on the fast track to walking....
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby RWBTEX » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:55 am

I say just jump in and go have some fun. Just give yourself more time than normal for cooking times. Make a list of the things you will normally need to cook with, remember your not at home and cant run in and get it so write it all down and check it three times and check it off as you get it loaded. Most turn in times go about like this:

10 am beans
11 or 12 chicken
2 pm ribs
3 or 4 pm brisket

Get your buddies and family together and practice at home a couple times for turn in times so you'll be familiar with each item you need to take to the cook off and how long it takes to get each category cooked while trying to time the others at same time. Remember at a cook off you want to win so save the party for some other time and place or at least friday night, not saturday during the competition, the less meat and fire you have to take care of the better off and less stressed you'll be.
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby n2dabluebbq » Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:38 pm

here is something you might want to try at home to get a feel for a comp......

(start on Friday morning)
load everything you think you will need and will fit in your vehicle to take to a comp. then get your smoker and go around the block, when you return make sure you can't get back into the house. and if you plan on some locations that re more remote, make sure you don't use any water or electricity.
have a random person look at your meat. then after you pitch your tent/rv, set up your ez/hard up. then start to prep your meat for cooking. get overcome by the whole excitement of being in a comp. walk around the neighborhood drinking in excess as you look at all your neighbors smokers/grills. lose track of time, barely make the cooks meeting. '
start you fire, realize you forgot the cutting board among other things. put some of your meats on. fall asleep and let your fire go out. wake up, rush around and relight the fire. barely get everything done and pass each meat through the kitchen window to have another random person sample it. get excited again and start drinking all over.
about three hours after your last turn in remember that you still have to tear down your area and drive home. oh and leave a few bucks on the ground as you leave.


ok it really doesn't have to be like that, but i see plenty of folks who seem to enjoy it like that. the bonus of doing it at home is that you'll be well practiced before your first comp. then again, you could just jump right in and make sure everyone knows their job. and no drinking on the job.
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby cowboydon » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:02 pm

What is the ELC?

@RangerJ: The ClearLake area.[/quote]
ELc = El Loco Coyote bbq shack, bout 2 miles from me......great food and enormous portions... :shock: :shock:[/quote]


2 miles ?? You musta took us on the scenic route Jeff.. :cheers:
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby dirty » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:30 am

I agree with these guys. Practice makes perfect get to really know your pit how it cooks how much wood it uses where the hot spots are. Make good use out of a clock and get all your times down. I would invest in a big ol five subject notebook and write EVERYTHING down! Before I even thought about cooking I judged for five years that's where I learned what the judges like afterall that's who your cooking for! Don't rush it go to a couple cookoffs look around make friends ask questions and try and be a judge! The best of luck to you and if your in the central Texas area look for us we are Dirty Barbque!
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby txngent » Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:24 am

dirty wrote:Before I even thought about cooking I judged for five years that's where I learned what the judges like after all that's who your cooking for! Don't rush it go to a couple cookoffs look around make friends ask questions and try and be a judge!


x2

I think it is best to find a good association and join. They usually will have a sort of judging class to give you the basics on what to look for, taste, etc... Take a comp cooking class from someone that knows the region. The above mentioned culinary learning center from what I understand is quite satisfactory... specially if you are cooking in Texas. If you decide to test the competitions waters cold turkey... well, know your crowd!!! From the way I have seen it, most of the judges in the Texas associations are pulled from the local crowd in most cases. I personally think this is the worst aspect in the whole Texas comp realm.
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Re: Starting from scratch!

Postby 3 star redneck » Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:41 am

[quote="txngent I personally think this is the worst aspect in the whole Texas comp realm.[/quote]


x2.... :puke:
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