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View Full Version : Making the Grade with Judges



peculiarmike
09-11-2008, 02:09 AM
I like what I cook, and I cook what I like. And that is what counts. It's taken since 1975 to get here. And I get a lot of compliments. And I'm still learning, you can never stop. So I figure I'm doing OK.
As for judging. It is BLIND judging, no way to know what belongs to who. It's a damn shame you ol' boys don't get certified and do some so things would improve. Otherwise, there's just me and some others out there.
I read a huge whine on the BBQ Brethren site about how bad the judges are, it's probably still going. Several folks whined about the fact they turned in the best they had ever cooked and it got LOW marks. Know what I told them??? Guess what? If that was the best you ever cooked you have a LOT to learn and the marks you got directly reflect that. Apparently, it wasn't all that good. Hard to swallow, but it's the truth.
I judge and a large percentage of what is turned in is not the best. A small percentage is very good and meets KCBS criteria. Those are the folks who win. And they do it at different locations with different judges, consistently. Because they know what they are doing.
And, apparently, so do the judges.
:twocents:

Fatback Joe
09-11-2008, 07:38 AM
As for judging. It is BLIND judging, no way to know what belongs to who. It's a damn shame you ol' boys don't get certified and do some so things would improve. Otherwise, there's just me and some others out there.
I read a huge whine on the BBQ Brethren site about how bad the judges are, it's probably still going. Several folks whined about the fact they turned in the best they had ever cooked and it got LOW marks. Know what I told them??? Guess what? If that was the best you ever cooked you have a LOT to learn and the marks you got directly reflect that. Apparently, it wasn't all that good. Hard to swallow, but it's the truth.
I judge and a large percentage of what is turned in is not the best. A small percentage is very good and meets KCBS criteria. Those are the folks who win. And they do it at different locations with different judges, consistently. Because they know what they are doing.
And, apparently, so do the judges.
:twocents:

Not to open the whole can of worms that comes with talking about judging, but I have to agree with the part about the guys that win consistently..........there is something to that. From the post I see on different forums it seems like the guys that complain the most are the ones that just do 1 or 2 comps and want to complain when they get shut out.......not always the case but it seems like it more often than not. I have only done 4 comps so far, so I definitely feel like I am still learning waht it is the judges want, primarily on the taste front. I have accepted that what I think is good and what they do are too different things. Goes back to what you hear quite often at comps........at least from the winning teams......"this isn't how I would do it at home".

My first comp I was set up next to the guy who got GC.........I learned a lot from him there.....he offered me some chicken to eat......with the disclaimer of "this isn't what I like to eat at home"........same story with ribs........you get the idea....and for the most part I wasn't impressed with what he let me try.....I like what I made (for the most part :msn-wink:), he was GC and I was something like 28th out of 43. But I learned that it doesn't matter what you like when it is comp time, it is what the judges like and you need to be able to give that to them.........if you don't like it go somewhere else kind of thought.

A guy I know that judges was at my 3rd comp.......after the comp he stopped by to BS and said "let me try your sauce"........he tasted it, said how good it was, and then said you won't do well consistently because it is not "traditional BBQ taste"......F me....traditional, who cares?.......well, I hadn't done well in chicken (mid pack) at any comp really (yeah all 3 lol)so I decided to play with that for the next comp.......went "traditional" with the sauce and have a ribbon on the wall for it.......everything else done the same.........and if it weren't for one damn judge may have won chicken. LOL Fing judges.

Sorry to ramble and write a book that really isn't even on topic wit the thread......guess that peculiar post touched on something in me.
Anyhow......as an unseasoned competitor, it sure seems like to me that if you can figure out the flavor they are looking for, the rest is just about putting out a consistent product......do that and you will do well more often than not.

BTW I beat Mike Davis in ribs at my 2nd comp........stupid judges. :smack:

Chargrilled
09-11-2008, 08:44 AM
As for the judges, nice post Mike. I think they go through the training that it takes to judge food and you have to know what they are looking for. I dont think anyone should or is being critical of judges if they are they should take some classes and see what it's all about (also to know what they are looking for, I believe this is HIGHLY recommended for those that are entering comps to place high).

The only honest person to eat my food and give me the truth is my lovely wife, if it sucks she has no problem telling me so!!!!:roflmaoha0:

But one day I will be judged in comps and that is fine, I will be going into the comp with the attitude of having a blast and learning from others, thats it. Doesnt matter what I place, at least not to me, I dont think Mills thought he had the best Q the first time he took 1st place??

:twocents:

PigCicles
09-11-2008, 10:29 AM
As for the judges, nice post Mike. I think they go through the training that it takes to judge food and you have to know what they are looking for. I dont think anyone should or is being critical of judges if they are they should take some classes and see what it's all about (also to know what they are looking for, I believe this is HIGHLY recommended for those that are entering comps to place high).

The only honest person to eat my food and give me the truth is my lovely wife, if it sucks she has no problem telling me so!!!!:roflmaoha0:

But one day I will be judged in comps and that is fine, I will be going into the comp with the attitude of having a blast and learning from others, thats it. Doesnt matter what I place, at least not to me, I dont think Mills thought he had the best Q the first time he took 1st place??

:twocents:

If you want brutal truth honesty ... put your food in front of a bunch of kids. If it sucks they won't eat it.

SmokyOkie
09-11-2008, 10:54 AM
Something that seems to be missing from all the posts above is the matter of individual taste.

I gotta disagree with you Mike, I've met a lot more KCBS judges that are clueless as to good Q than what I've met that know as much as you or I.

In not only my estimation, but that of most all successful competition cooks that I've polled, it stacks up about like this.

If you classify judges as either Famous Dave's fans (sophisticated McRib lovers) or seasoned BBQ analysts. it's about 90% FD lovers and 10% knowledgeable folks.

I have heard a good many comments from KCBS certified judges along the lines of"There's no such thing as a good spare rib." or "I hate spare ribs", and ranging even as far as "I really don't much care for th 'smoky taste' on my meat"

Cooking competition winning food is every bit as much a game as it is using culinary expertise, and second guessing the judges is a very large part of it. Most any successful comper will tell you that what they win comps with is not what they like to cook for themselves and friends.

You, mike are the exception to the rule. You know what real Q is, and are also a judge.

I beleive that KCBS would have trouble fielding a truly qualified team of judges for any good sized comp. There just aren't that many out there, and most are cooking, so they can't judge.

Last but not least, while the folks at KCBS have tried hard to set standards for judging, the bulk of what judges need to possess cannot be standardized, and if it was, it would totally stifle the creativity that makes great Q. No one can define taste standards, and in the end, taste is tha primary deciding factor. While appearance is a lesser factor, it cannot be standardized either.

If eveerything was indeed standardized, then all you would have would be a bunch of folks cooking everything exactly the same and only trying to see who does the best job of the exact same thing. Think about it. They have in fact, via their standardization, turned the chicken category into a chicken thigh contest, and there's a whole lot more than thighs to BBW chicken.:rant:

Chargrilled
09-11-2008, 10:59 AM
"the bulk of what judges need to possess cannot be standardized, and if it was, it would totally stifle the creativity that makes great Q."


Wish I could have come up with that, very well said.

I was also thinkin the best judges are prolly cookin, makes alot of sense.

SmokyOkie
09-11-2008, 11:14 AM
That's just the only sense I've been able to come away with in my very short venture into competition cooking.:twocents::shrug:

Fatback Joe
09-11-2008, 11:22 AM
Cooking competition winning food is every bit as much a game as it is using culinary expertise,

I agree!!! I have been frustrated and confused when I get the comp results back, but I look at it as a game of figuring out what they want and trying to deliver.........so far I enjoy it. Seems like once you figure out the flavors, texture, and get the presentation down, it becomes more about just making consistent turn ins from comp to comp.

Willkat98
09-11-2008, 11:52 AM
Seems like once you figure out the flavors, texture, and get the presentation down, it becomes more about just making consistent turn ins from comp to comp.

If you tape six $5 bills to the underside of the turn in box, I find it gives it just the right "texture"

Fatback Joe
09-11-2008, 12:27 PM
If you tape six $5 bills to the underside of the turn in box, I find it gives it just the right "texture"

If only it was that easy or cheap............I would probably get marked down for using the wrong kind of tape or something anyhow. :misbehaving:

peculiarmike
09-11-2008, 12:31 PM
I will stand by the fact that the winners win consistently at different locations around the country with totally different people doing the BLIND judging at each location. At the end of the season the real que cookers are there on top at the KCBS awards banquet.
Competition cookers are not cooking for you or me. They are cooking to a set of standards set by the sanctioning body, generally KCBS. Without rules (standards) there is no game.
And judges are required to judge on those standards. Granted, there are some dinks out there who do not comply. But they are the MINORITY. And almost always they get set straight by the other 5 judges and the table captain at their table. I never hesitate to say something.
And if something has so much heat it burns out my taste buds, or is just plain awful, my individual preference comes into play. I don't like bad que and score it accordingly. And I know it when I bite into it.
Having judged a few comps I find the average judge to be knowledgeable of the KCBS standards and looking for those things in each sample. That's ALL you can ask of a judge. And yep, each judge is an individual person.
And there is no talking about the samples among the judges at a table until all judges at the table have completed their sampling and recorded their scores. If there is talking the table captain and KCBS reps are not doing their jobs, something I have never seen.
Say a comp has 40 teams. 6 judges per team = 240 judges & 40 table captains. Suppose before they judge they all meet and decide today they only like sweet sauces, or salty, or heat????? Get real. 240 individuals.
Didn't score well at a comp.? Guess what. It ain't the judges. Look inward.
Now THAT'S kinda a hard thing to do. It's easier to ...............
:twocents:

(And this is all I have to say on this subject. Get certified. Judge some comps.)

SmokyOkie
09-11-2008, 03:06 PM
Cook a couple comps, come to the realization that other than rib texture and what you can't do, there are really no specifiacations or standards. There cant be.

And I'll stand by the fact that it would be next to impossible to find those 240 truly qualified people to judge the comps.

The ones that score consistently well are the ones that have figured out the game, and what usually wins is what appeals to the masses as opposed to the true BBQ aficionado.

And, as to being a blind judging, they way they renumber the boxes is to ad a digit or two to the team number. If someone wanted to, it wouldn't be hard to figure iout who's was who's. If the judges knew which table to send it to it could easily be abused.

glued2it
09-11-2008, 03:28 PM
How often does one actually cook for true BBQ cooks.
I know when I cook at home for a number of people, I'm cooking for people that all they know is Famous Daves.

If they new what real BBQ was, They would be cooking it themselves.

If you owned a BBQ Restaurant, what type of customers would you have?

The cooks cook and the judges judge. Based on not needing to know how to cook before becoming a judge, how can one expect to be judged by a BBQ profesional?

They set the guidlines/standards (or whatever the heck you want to call it)for you to exercise your skill.
If you can't cook to specific request then you have no skill.
That makes a "smoke and hope", like randomly hitting pool balls and seeing if the go in the pocket.

A good pool player can set the q ball on dime from anywhere on the table.:msn-wink:

tectulsa
09-11-2008, 04:58 PM
My thoughts are comps are a summer replacement for deer hunting. An event where you stay up all night in the smoke with friends and consume a large quantity of adult beverages. Who cares whether you win are not where else do you get to sit around with other like minded folks and trade tips face to face.

SmokyOkie
09-11-2008, 06:14 PM
How often does one actually cook for true BBQ cooks.
I know when I cook at home for a number of people, I'm cooking for people that all they know is Famous Dave's.

If they new what real BBQ was, They would be cooking it themselves.

If you owned a BBQ Restaurant, what type of customers would you have?

The cooks cook and the judges judge. Based on not needing to know how to cook before becoming a judge, how can one expect to be judged by a BBQ professional?

They set the guidlines/standards (or whatever the heck you want to call it)for you to exercise your skill.

If you can't cook to specific request then you have no skill.
That makes a "smoke and hope", like randomly hitting pool balls and seeing if the go in the pocket.

A good pool player can set the q ball on dime from anywhere on the table.:msn-wink:

So what's your point?:roflmaoha0:

Nobody is contesting whether or not there are standards, the only question here is whether or not it is possible to set standards that define what is championship product and what is not. I contend that it is not possible because taste is the primary consideration, and taste cannot be standardized.

If I had a BBQ restaurant (which, by choice, I never will), my customers would consist of people who like what I like and first timers that perhaps do not, but don't know it yet. That would be the case because I would be cooking to suit my tastes and I think there would be enough people that would share my tastes to keep me in business.

ds7662
09-11-2008, 07:07 PM
If I had a BBQ restaurant (which, by choice, I never will), my customers would consist of people who like what I like and first timers that perhaps do not, but don't know it yet. That would be the case because I would be cooking to suit my tastes and I think there would be enough people that would share my tastes to keep me in business.

Well said and excellent point!! :thumbs up: