To all cooks,judges, and contest organizers: WE NEED YOUR IMPUT !!!
There has been a great deal of controversy over the "leftover policy" established at some contests. We would appreciate it if the organizers, cooks, and judges would share their thinking on the leftover policy at the contests they organize, cook and judge.
Many contest organizers allow leftovers to be taken by the judges and support staff. Some will not allow the leftovers to be taken by judges, but still allow it to be served to employees and support staff, which suggests a double standard.
As judges who were raised by our parents not to waste food, it troubles us to see huge amounts of food tossed into a trash barrel. We also feel that this is an insult to the cooks who have spent large amounts of money and many hours selecting and preparing expensive meat in the very best way they know how.
Arguments can be made both for and against this policy, but we do not feel sound reasoning can be made to justify wasting food. If we, as adult consumers, are allowed to take our leftovers home from a restaurant, then why not from a BBQ contest?
Some of the reasons we have heard for not allowing take home are listed below with our responses:
Reason #1: It has been suggested that the take home food many not be properly handled and could become dangerous to consume. Our response: If a person is capable of being responsible for their restaurant take home, isn’t it reasonable to assume that the contest food is due the same intelligent handling by the person accepting the food? If the objection to take home is of a legal nature, then those choosing to take their leftovers should sign a waiver of liability, thus holding the contest and cooks harmless. (In our humble opinion, since we live in such a litigious society, this should probably be done at all contests anyway.)
Reason #2: If the judges are allowed to take home their leftovers they may not properly sample the food, because they will want to take home as much as possible. Our response: Whoever would be of this thinking has probably never been seated as a judge. To sample six entries of chicken, six samples of ribs, six samples of pork, and six samples of brisket requires a judge to use some serious thought on how much of each entry to sample. In a typical contest, if a judge ate every bit of every sample provided to them, it is entirely possible for a judge to consume roughly 2 pounds of meat. There aren't many people who are capable of that feat without becoming physically ill from overeating.
Reason #3: The local health department will not allow food to be removed. Our response is a simple question: Does the health department allow food to be taken home from a restaurant, and if so, what is the difference?
If the organizers, cooks and judges would share their experiences and rationale, and also whether the take home policies affect their interest in contests, that insight may help alleviate issues in the future and help to promote understanding and empathy between us all. After all, we all share the same love: great BBQ!
Thank you for your time and opinions.
Richard & Debra Piper