What to BBQ?
If you are looking for a competition BBQ contest, you can check out your local BBQ Network and search for events. The largest is KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society). But a few of the other popular BBQ networks are IBCA, FBA and MBN. These associations will allow you to search for local competition BBQ contests, get dates and discover the costs of entering a contest.
If the competition BBQ contest offers a “backyard” or a “patio” section, I always suggest entering that division to start. It usually costs less, typically doesn’t require as much as the professional division and it will let you get a feel for competing.
Once you find a Competition BBQ contest and submit your application, it’s time to start planning… It takes more planning than you would expect. Regardless how long you have been cooking BBQ, it’s always a good idea to do a few practice runs so you will be in-sync with the turn-in times of the cooking contest.
If you want to judge a Competition BBQ Contest before you cook in one (which I highly recommend), you need to become a certified judge.
Most Competition BBQ Cooking Contests won’t let you judge unless you are a certified judge (and you can get certified typically by attending a 1-day judging class). So if you want to become a Competition BBQ judge, go to the BBQ network website and sign-up for one of their judging classes. These classes typically fill-up quick… so if you’re interested you need to get on it.
Judging will allow you to see what other people turn in, what judges expect and get you really familiar with all the rules. Plus, you get to eat some really great BBQ.
A Few Words To The Wise about Competing in Competition BBQ…
I don’t care how amazing your grandpa’s BBQ sauce is… or how mouth-watering everyone told you your ribs are… the guys in the professional division have spent years perfecting everything – all the way down to how to place the meat in the turn-in box. They know what the judges like and they cook 20, 30 some of them cook 40 weekends out of the year.