Compete in a BBQ Competition...
BBQ Competitions are great fun and I encourage you to enter one in your area and find out for yourself how much fun they are. Our book "Competition BBQ Secrets" has helped many teams take Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion and many other high finishes in the four main barbecue categories... ribs, pork, chicken, and brisket. If you want to get your feet wet before entering a big contest, try just entering the "backyard" division in a local competition. That's a category where you will only compete against other beginners and amateurs. It's a great way to get a feel for things before you start competing against the "big boys". And don't forget the other "side competitions" like whole hog, anything but BBQ competitions, pie contests, sauce contests, invitational only contests, Kid's Q, etc.
To get an idea of what your schedule will be like at a contest, click HERE. And, of course, we have a whole checklist of things you will need to bring to a BBQ contest in our book "Competition BBQ Secrets".
Of course, you can always just visit a local contest as a spectator. But I have to warn you... you will not be able to taste the different competitors' BBQ. They usually only cook enough to turn into the judges and maybe a little extra for themselves and a few friends. If you ask nicely, some of them might throw you a bone or two, but don't count on it. Actually, they are not allowed to sell BBQ unless they have also paid a vending fee to the sponsor of the contest. So... there should be plenty of vendors selling BBQ, but you can't go taste testing all the contestants' BBQ.
However... there are three ways that will enable you to taste the contestants' BBQ...
1) You can become a certified judge through the barbecue association of your choice and then
volunteer to be a judge in a contest. This is a great way to learn how the system works and how real competition BBQ tastes. This is a great tip... become a barbeque judge first and then a competitor. The contests always need good,
certified judges and you'll also be able to take home what you can't eat when you are judging.
2) You can become a volunteer helper at the contest. Most of the contests are run by non-profit organizations and they need plenty of help. Here's a little secret... all the contestants are required to turn in a specific amount of servings (let's say 8). 6 of those servings will go to the judges. They take a small bite of each and then throw the rest in their container they brought with them to take home. The other servings go to the volunteers and table captains to munch on after the contest.
3) Sometimes they have what they call a people's choice contest. The contestants submit their entries and the entries are divided up into small portions. When it's your turn, you will be presented with a tray of six numbered samples. You taste them all and rate them on how well they tasted.
To get a schedule of events in your area, I recommend you visit your local BBQ Association web site and check out their calendar of events. Some useful web sites are...
The National Barbecue News - www.barbecuenews.com
Florida Barbecue Association - www.flbbq.org
California Barbecue Association - www.cbbqa.com
Kansas City Barbecue Society - www.kcbs.us
Memphis Barbecue Association - www.memphisinmay.org
Note: MIM no longer sanctions contests. See MBN below.
Memphis Barbecue Network - www.mbnbbq.com
New England Barbecue Society - www.nebs.org
Lone Star Barbecue Society - www.lonestarbarbecue.com
Central Texas barbecue Association - www.ctbahome.com
Texas Gulf Coast Barbecue Cookers Association - www.tgcbca.org
South Carolina Barbecue Association - www.scbarbeque.com
North Carolina Barbecue Society - www.ncbbqsociety.com
Arizona Barbecue Association - www.azbbqa.com
Greater Omaha barbecue Society - www.gobs.org
Iowa Barbecue Society - www.iabbq.org
Mid Atlantic Barbecue Association - www.mabbqa.com
Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association - www.pnwba.com
Utah Barbecue Association - www.utahbbq.org
Western Barbecue Association - www.wbbqa.com (website not working)
Canadian Barbecue Association - www.canadianbarbecueassociation.com
International Barbecue Cookers Association - www.ibcabbq.org
Rocky Mountain BBQ Association - www.rmbbqa.com
National Barbecue Association - www.nbbqa.org
Atlanta Barbecue Club - www.atlbbqclub.com
Georgia Barbecue Association - www.bbqga.com
Note: If you can't find a contest near you in the list above, just type one of the following terms into www.google.com ...
yourstate barbecue contest
yourstate barbecue association
yourstate barbecue society
yourstate barbecue competition
Tip... when competing in a contest, try to use a "regional sauce or rub".
These BBQ contests usually have judges that live in the general local area of where the contest is held. You want to please the judges, right? So, why not use a local, regional sauce? A good way to find out what the locals like is to just ask around. Visit the local BBQ restaurants and ask the owners or customers. Try some of their BBQ out (that's the fun part). Ask if you can buy some of their sauce. Ask people on the street or ask people at a contest. There are some regional "specialties" that everybody is aware of, but these are only a guideline and can change quickly or get blurred at state borders...
Texas - BBQ is mainly beef brisket slow smoked with mesquite with a hot sauce.
North Carolina - BBQ is usually pulled pork with a thin vinegar & pepper based sauce.
South Carolina - Similar to North Carolina, but the mustard based sauce is popular there too.
Tennessee (Memphis) - They like a sweet sauce in TN but are known for their ribs with nothing but a spicy dry rub.
Kansas City - They like a ketchup based sweet sauce on their ribs.
Georgia & Florida - Mixture of all of the above! We like them all down here!
Alabama - They are sort of like FL & GA, but with one specialty sauce - the white sauce. If you are going to the Ft Rucker, AL barbecue contest, try a white sauce to tickle the tongues of the Alabama judges! Here's a great article on white sauces...
White Barbecue Sauce - Sweet, sour, tickling and tangy
BBQ sauce is generally a basic mixture of tomatoes, sugar and vinegar. Tomatoes used can be in various forms such as tomato sauce, paste, puree and even
ketchup. Sugar adds sweetness to the barbecue sauce and can either be corn syrup, honey or molasses. The addition of vinegar, on the other hand, lends a sour flavor to the bbq sauce and can be in the form of beer, white or flavored vinegar,
wine or citrus juices. In general, bbq sauces can be used throughout the barbecue process from preparation to cooking.
Bechamel sauce or White Barbecue Sauce has a long and illustrious history. It has been a pet of the French food connoisseurs, since 1651. One of the mother sauces of French cuisine, the white sauce is nowadays made by whisking scalded milk gradually into a white flour-butter roux. However, it can also be made by whisking a kneaded flour-butter beurre manie into scalded milk. The thickness of the final sauce depends on the proportions of milk and flour. White Barbecue sauce, unquestionably adds a delicate flavoring to your meat dishes.
White Barbecue Sauces of Alabama are different from most other barbecue sauces in the use of their bases. These sauces are predominantly mayonnaise based, unlike the traditional and ubiquitous tomato. Chicken, turkey or pork - these white sauces are taste uppers beyond imagination. Like its tomato- and mustard-based cousins, white barbecue sauce comes in shades ranging from porcelain to putty. There are also differences in consistency. Some sauces flow like fat free milk, while others are more reminiscent of a creamy dressing. As for the ingredients, well, purists such as Myra Grissom, owner of Miss Myra's Pit Bar-B-Q in Birmingham, insists there are only four items who play the role: mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, and coarsely ground pepper. Perking up salads or topping pulled pork sandwiches or grilled fish whatever you are up to these sauces are great.
Smuggler's Run White Grilling Sauce and Big Bob Gibson White BBQ sauce are sauces that can be recommended, without any hesitation. Mayonnaise, Egg Yolks, Water, Corn Syrup, Vinegar, Salt, Spices, Calcium Disodium, Cider Vinegar, Onion, Garlic, White Pepper, Salt and Xanthium Gum are what goes into the making of this taste bud rocker.
Big Bob Gibson White BBQ sauce comprises distilled vinegar, sugar, salt, spices, egg yolks, mustard flour, paprika and garlic. Poultry, pork, seafood, and wild game-Big Bob, goes with them comfortably enough.
Chris McCarthy is the owner of InsaneChicken's Hot Sauce and BBQ Sauce Catalog and a hot sauce enthusiast. InsaneChicken sells hot sauces, bbq sauces, bbq rubs and salsa's from around the world. The site also has a Recipe of the Day section and a Hot Sauce and BBQ Blog.
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