Proteins must not be brined, rubbed, marinated or cured before the opening of the cooking window. Proteins may be pre-trimmed before the start of the cooking window. Cooking units may be pre-heated or started before the cooking window but competition proteins cooking processes must not start prior to the cooking window opening.
There is no ABA governed limit to how many team members are allowed per team. Teams may not sell or distribute food to the General Public unless the appropriate Food License is obtained and only with the consent of the Event Promoter. Teams may only compete in one competition at one time.
One team per cook site only. The ABA Head Judge will be the sole arbitrator of any dispute and their decision on site at the competition will be final in all cases with no further correspondence entered into by the ABA. Infractions Boxed Entry Disqualification Late to hand in. Window is strictly 5 mins to 5 mins after hand in time. Wrong entry handed in eg. Pork handed into Lamb category etc. An obvious identifying mark on the hand in box.
Using an unapproved method or cooking unit to cook the entry. Judges score each element out of 10 on their scorecards. Scores are entered into the ABA data entry system and awarded weighting to the value of: Presentation — Single Weighted out of 10 Texture — Double Weighted out of 20 Taste — Triple Weighted out of 30 The lowest Judge Score from each of the three elements will be deducted from the overall score. Total points available per entry is points. Additional Judging Notes Ties are broken by counting back which team has the highest Taste Score for that entry.
If the Taste Scores are tied between the teams, then the highest Texture Score for that entry will prevail. Judges may taste any or all portions in the box at their discretion. Judges must not be team members of a competing team at that event. Judges must not be spouses or partners of a competing team at that event. If using a skin for a sausage, the skin must not be from a foreign beast or unapproved cut.
Proteins may be trimmed and prepared by a butcher and vacuum sealed, however no brines, liquids or powders are allowed to be added to the bag for preservation or curing. Prohibited methods of cooking processes Sous Vide, fully submerged poaching or par boiling Deep or shallow frying in oil Heat stamping with branding iron or similar Prohibited cooking appliances Gas or electric cookers where the heat source comes from gas or electricity for any process of cooking or holding the protein at temperature. However, gas or electric cookers may be used for sauces, glazing or starting a chimney or fire only.
Allowed Holding units Esky or unpowered Cambro style holding unit s or inside or on an approved cooking unit only. Beef Ribs — Short, back or chuck ribs. Pork Ribs — Skinless pork ribs. A bone must be present in every rib. Part 1 — Onsite Judging. Verbal Presentation score will be out of 5 points. Visual appeal of the whole hog as presented by the team, excluding the team site will scored out of 5 points. Total points available in Part 1 is 40 points per team. Part 2. Blind Judging. Total points available in blind judging is points.
Total overall points available including both judging elements is points per entry. Ties broken using the ABA Processes as per any other hand in category. All other ABA Rules apply. No minimum or maximum number of categories per contest. No minimum teams in attendance applies. No Championship points awarded for this contest series.
Uncooked meats must be stored at or below 4 degrees Celsius at all times. In the wee hours, after the party people have staggered off, you slip the pork shoulders and beef briskets under the squeaky steel door of the smoker and try to grab some shuteye. Saturday morning, everyone is up early for breakfast, and in go the ribs. Things are blurry from the pace and last night's beverages as turn-in time approaches. The ribs are arranged artfully in the official Styrofoam clamshell for the 1 p.
There is typically a 10 minute window, so you don't dare be late lest you be disqualified. Then go the other dishes in rapid succession: pulled pork, chicken, brisket, and whatever else the organizers have dared you to cook. Today it's desserts, and you can't remember what soft ball temperature is. They settle into their folding chairs and begin the dirty job of tasting from the boxes identified only by code numbers. The napkin pile goes down fast.
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Without conferring among themselves, the scores are turned over to the computer crew. You watch the tent nervously, fantasizing that someone will come rushing out screaming your code number and accolades. You've collected your trophy and check or more likely, not , and you party all night again. Or maybe you sulk. Sunday morning, you load up your gear, and hit the road. With luck, you crawl into your own bed at home in the wee hours of Monday morning. Some teams, like Lotta Bull, will repeat this ritual 40 times a year. You've gotta have an understanding boss. By the time "The Jack" unofficially wraps the season in late October in Lynchburg, you've covered thousands of miles and spent tens of thousands of dollars.
As gas prices climb your enthusiasm for next season is challenged. Alas, only a few teams offset their costs with prize money. So what attracts them? The majority of the team leaders are white male ex-jocks whose competitive flame continues to burn, even though they can't see their belts. Then there are the lures of fire, the big metal toys, great meat, the seductive scent of hardwood smoke, fellowship, and dreams of fame and fortune. Mike Davis does it "for the thrill of it. It's in my blood. My wife and I can do it together. We never get tired of it. The people we meet are just fantastic.
Even when you don't win, you can be happy for your buddies. Of course I'm happier when we win. According to "Rockin' Ronnie" Shewchuk, author of the book Barbecue Secrets , "Barbecue at its best is a spiritual experience, and I like to think of what I do as high ceremonial cooking. You're not really serious about barbecue until you've slept next to your smoker and used a bag of charcoal as a pillow. Mike "The Legend" Mills. One of the most highly respected cooks in the game is gravel-throated Mike "The Legend" Mills.
He started out as the owner of a modest barbecue joint in tiny downstate Murphysboro, IL, got together a team, won a few small events, and then blew the barbecue world away with three grand world championships at Memphis in May, known affectionately as "The Super Bowl of Swine". No one had ever done that. He is also a partner in the Manhattan hotspot, Blue Smoke. And we're not talking Manhattan, Kansas.
Las Vegas and Manhattan are a long way from home for this country boy from Murphysboro. Chris Lilly. Chris Lilly is probably the most visible competitor on the circuit. The place has achieved national notoriety because of the acclaim slathered on Lilly and his competition team. Their red sauce was named "Best on the Planet" at the American Royal Open in Kansas City, and their signature white barbecue sauce has also won numerous awards. Lilly has won top awards at practically every major competition with his cooking, too. The sauces sell briskly in groceries and on the website, and now there is a second location in Decatur.
Their first franchise opened in in Monroe, NC.
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You can even sit at the foot of the master and learn how to make championship barbecue by watching his DVD series. Bill and Barbara Milroy. The Texas Rib Rangers, a. Bill and Barbara Milroy claim to have carted home more than trophies in their 31 years of competition. They turned their passion for barbecue into a nomadic lifestyle and a business. There's a bonding with people from all walks of life.
Each weekend you meet your brothers and sisters and find new ones. Their sauces, which they claim have won more than 50 championships, including a perfect score at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational, sell briskly wherever they go and on their website. They have achieved the holy grail of barbecue cooks: National distribution of their bottled goods. They also custom blend and private label for restaurants, among them the 85 locations of the Sagebrush Steakhouse.
They are also sponsored by Ole Hickory Pits , for whom they are "Ambassadors.
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Below are some of the most prestigious competitions. The Kansas City Barbecue Society KCBS is the largest sanctioning body and its website lists the rules and judging criteria as well as all the events they sanction. There's music, clowns, and plenty to eat. More than teams made the pilgrimage to this capital of barbecue in , its 27th year. Memphis in May. By invitation only, more than teams compete for some serious cash prizes by cooking only pork. As in all legit competitions, judges taste blind. But at MIM, some judges visit the team sites, inspect the rigs, and taste at elegant tables with uniformed team members waiting on them.
As the trained experts gnaw on bones, the team captain regales them with hogwash about how they use a secret recipe given to them by grandpa, and how they stayed up all night massaging the meat before it went on the cooker. Competitors go all out to create environments with restaurant-like themes that run the gamut from elegant to whimsical and weave elaborate lies for the skeptical tasters.
Teams dress silly and act sillier. Located in a park, the 3-day hogfest is visited by more than 90, porkaholics. At night the teams invite friends and family and the party goes on until the wee hours. Only teams that have won state or national competitions are invited to compete. Because the field is small, top notch, and the whiskey is smooth, this is the one all the cooks want to get to.
There are two or three cookoffs every weekend in the summer. If this kind of sport sounds like something you need to do, there are about two dozen barbecue societies in the nation, and you should join a few. Many hold meetings, demos, and seminars. Some even sponsor and sanction competitions, providing a set of rules, judging procedures, certified judges, publicity, and cumulative point totals towards annual titles.
If you're not ready to go whole hog, many contests have "back porch" divisions for beginners. Small entry fees, small trophies, big fun. Here's a list of every barbecue association I can find, with some descriptive info on the largest and most important. Arizona Barbeque. A lively active group whose site has a calendar of activities and a forum. California BBQ Association. There's a lively online interactive forum on their website, and unlike many association websites, they actually keep their calendar of events up to date! Canadian BBQ Society. There is a lively barbecue community in Canada.
These folks are fired up and they even compete in winter! Caribbean BBQ Association. Some experts argue that barbecue originated in the Caribbean, and the spiritual descendants of the inventors live in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Antilles. Central Texas Barbecue Association. Brisket is king in the region with the most famous brisket restaurants in the world, but in the two dozen events they judge, they also taste ribs and chicken. Many of their events also judge chile and beans. One even has a margarita category!
Florida Barbecue Association. They call themselves "crackers" and they are passionate about que. They sanction quite a few events, classes, and judge certification courses around the state. The website even has a guide to BBQ joints in Florida. German Barbecue Association. Grillmeisterschaft auf Deutsche. The trade association for grill manufacturers, distributors, reps, and retailers. The annual conference is a great place to see the new toys coming on the market.
Illinois BBQ Alliance. An active group sponsoring activities mostly in the Chicago area. International Barbeque Cookers Association. They judge beef brisket, chicken halves, pork spareribs, and pinto beans. Iowa Barbeque Society. The largest pork producing state knows barbecue, and participates in numerous contests. Sadly, the website is out of date and offers little.
Kansas City Barbeque Society. All KCBS-sanctioned competitions have categories for pork shoulder, pork ribs, chicken, and beef brisket, and many feature local specialties or fun "anything but" categories such as fish or desserts. The Kansas City BullSheet, their monthly tabloid newspaper, is filled with news of events past and future, debates on competition rules, reviews or products, cooking tips, recipes, commentary, and useful ads. If you're serious about barbecue, get on this bus. Lone Star Barbecue Society. Brisket is king, but they also judge spareribs and chicken.
One event has a goat category, and another judges wild hog! Memphis Barbecue Association. Add this to your list of things to see before you die. Memphis Barbecue Network. Founded in , this is a group of people who are active in barbecue competitions that were once under the wing of the Memphis Barbecue Association MBA.
That left a number of events without an oversight sanctioning body, so they banded together to form MBN. Got it? Small but growing. National Barbecue Association.
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This is a trade association catering to the needs of restaurants and caterers. Their annual convention includes a major sauce competition, a session called "Consulting with the BBQ Masters", and a bus tour of local barbecue restaurants. They have a lively email list with interesting debate and a recipe exchange. North Carolina Barbecue Society. A great website with an innovative barbecue trail featuring famous barbecue joints aimed at tourists. With more than members, they organize events from Whistler, British Columbia in the north, to Oregon in the south, Calgary, Alberta in the east, and of course the Walla Walla, Washington Onion Cookoff in the middle.
There are numerous courses for cooks, and naturally there are salmon competitions.
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South Carolina Barbeque Association. This fast growing organization sanctioned about 20 competitions, all in the state. Founder, Lake High, is one of the most knowledgeable and colorful characters in the barbecue universe. Swiss Barbecue Association. The teams I have met practice what they preach.
A newly formed group that already is involved in a number of events in the Houston area. World Barbecue Association. The website lists competitions from New Zealand to Moscow-Krasnogorsk! If you are fascinated by the barbecue cookoffs on the TV, you need to know this before you load up the gang and head out on an empty stomach.
At most competitions, the cooks haven't got the capacity to feed the public. Their cookers are relatively small, and they are focused on their competition entries. On Saturday morning after they submit their entries, they often give away their leftovers for free.
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But there's not much, just a taste. To understand what it is like to be a competition cook, go behind the scenes with a real iron chef. There are a few exceptions. Unlike most competitions, the teams must cook for the public which is asked to vote for their fave. Some events, usually those called "festivals" arrange to have a few vendors selling barbecue and sides.
These are often a select few competitors who have the capacity and staff to compete and vend. They have a massive database of competitions, but there is no info about which have vendors. Keep in mind, that most of these have no more than a handful of vendors so they can attract good cooks by guaranteeing them a profit, and they are making fine food, but it is not made exactly the same way as the meat served to the judges.
The Kansas City Barbeque Society has a good article on how to get ready tor your first cookoff. What are the judges looking for? Here's this judge's definition of Amazing Ribs. The judges base part of your score on presentation. A website called BBQ Critic has a section called Judge My Box where teams can show their turn in presentations and people comment on them.
A great way to learn.