Our team competes in professional BBQ contests mostly limited to KCBS (Kansas City Barbeque Society) State Championship sanctioned events in and around the Washington DC / Northern Virginia area. We will normally travel up to 4 hrs to attend events which could be in New York, Maryland, DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and/or North Carolina depending on the prize money and or our desire to win.
Sometimes we’ll enter local non sanctioned KCBS events such as Chili cook-off’s and local BBQ contests for the fun of it. We’ve also been known to be diverse in what it is we are competing in with respect to not just traditional BBQ entries, but also side competitions such as peoples choice, anything but contests, seafood, smoked fish, BBQ sauce, dessert dishes etc as well as any other competition we feel we can do well in. It’s all about family, good food, having fun and being challenged.
As for the traditional BBQ categories we compete in there are 4 categories in KCBS that we strive to master. These four categories are not your average back yard BBQ but rather BBQ at its finest level of Presentation, Taste and degree of Tenderness. I say degree of tenderness because in competition BBQ your meat falling apart or off the bone is not always a good thing depending on what category it is. Those three things are what we are judged on so each turn in is truly a gourmet BBQ experience and may not be what we would normally fire up on the back deck with friends.
You can visit the KCBS site to see complete rules and details per each category but here are some examples of these categories in presentation trays you can look at below.
These are NOT our turn in boxes, What? did you think we would give that away at least with these you get an idea what the boxes look like. They are simply 8” x 8” take home trays that you would get to take home your leftovers at most restaurants and we dress them up a bit with garnish. As you can see here the garnish has rules as well nothing but green lettuce and parsley, no Kale or red leaved stuff, that will get you DQ’ed for that category with a no score, but you can chance your presentation score by not adding any garnish if you like as it is not required. Would you take that chance? We don’t either.
Examples on the four KCBS BBQ categories is as follows:
Here you will see chicken thighs, but you can turn in any part of the chicken you wish. Here is that “would you take that chance” thing again. Most teams turn in thighs because they are not as dry, and tend to be consistent when cooking. They make for good presentation, but who knows, something different might be the ticket to win over the judges!
Here we have some St. Louis style ribs. As you can see the protruding bone gives the idea they are tender and ready to be snatched up by someone who is hungry. You must have at least 6 ribs in a tray, one for each judge. More than 6 is always welcomed as the table captain will get to sample as well.
Possibly one of the hardest meats to be consistent on as there are so many ways to serve. Pulled pork, burnt ends, money meat, sliced, just to name a few. Sauced or no sauce? You will see where we are going with this, as pork can be a real challenge. But if you watch your scores you will start to see a pattern.
Bar none, the most challenging meat to cook and cook consistently. But brisket is the best BBQ you will ever have when done the right way. This meat requires a good rub, good technique, excellent fire control and the right combination of smoke and heat along with lots of patience! This “guy” is not something you throw on the pit for an hour and wait for the dinner bell, it takes a long time to cook and master this meat.