As a competitor first and a judge second, Herb asked me to be a blog columnist on BBQ Critic and to write as a competitor. Like the other bloggers on this site, I have the bug and have had it for years.
In 2007, I started cooking competitively with my brother Don. Together we formed Boondoggle BBQ and to date have competed in nearly 35 competitions - generally in Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. We have also competed in Minnesota and Tennessee with hopes of making it to Texas then Arkansas later this year.
After nearly a handful of competitions in 2007, we realized we were not having much success and our results were not improving. At that point Don and I both decided to take the KCBS judging class with hopes that we'd learn what judges were looking for. I took the class near KC and within a month or so, Don took the class in Omaha. I believe it was our first competition after taking the classes that we received our first call.
Did the class make us better cooks? No, but it probably did help us turn in a product that was more suited for what KCBS judges are trained to judge upon.
Over our next few years, we had some ups and downs as competition cooks. With the help of other team, a few cooking classes, and many personal experiences we learned that just because one cooks each category the same every competition, it does not always mean the quality of the turn in is the same. Bland/Bitter ... Salty/Sweet ... Melt in your mouth/Chewy ... while prepping the meats might be a science, boxing the meats can definitely be an art - and not only visually.
Since 2007, I've judged a handful of times. Unfortunately, I did not judge at all in the 2010 season and I need to make an effort to get out and judge a few times this year. The few times I have judged, I have learned something that can help make me a better competitor simply by discussing entries with the other judges.
I look forward to contribute to BBQ Critic from a cookers perspective, but first thought I should share a short biography of my BBQ experiences. I'm open to suggestion on topics, so if you have something you'd like to hear about from a cooks standpoint just let me know.