. . . into the new year for ourselves, our families, our friends and our BBQ world. Today starts the wheel turning on this road that is called 2012, let's all try to make it as pleasant a trip as we can.
I'm sure that by now most, if not all, of you know that the KCBS election starts on the 3rd and voting runs through the 13th of January. If you haven't received any e-mails from KCBS in the last three months then you might want to make sure that they have your correct e-mail addy because that's where they'll send your voting link & password for the election. In any case, if they haven't contacted you by the 4th or so, then give them a head's up!
I know that you've heard me talking about what I'd like to see happen if I should get elected to the BoD this year. Earlier this evening a friend of mine from Omaha and I have been exchanging messages on Facebook. He said that he's interested in hosting a judges' pot luck / get together on Friday evenings at some of the comps that he judges. He's thinking of getting a few judges together to visit, discuss BBQ and/or judging and then go out & visit with / meet some of the cooks. Now he's going to start talking to the organizers at a couple of comps to see if they'll let him have some space to set up or maybe even use the judging tent on Friday evening. Next we try get the organizer to send all of the next day's judges an e-invite for the festivities.
This is what I've been talking about!
Just think how much easier this would be if he had the voice of the KCBS Board of Directors behind him.
I'd like to be that voice. The judges' voice on the BoD.
Thank you for considering me,
As most of you know, I'm a member of an on-line group of BBQ affectionadoes known as the BBQ-Brethren. There's over 10,000 members with folks in every state and from all over the world. Every once in a while a bunch of the Brethren get together for a weekend of goofing off, cooking, enjoying friends old and new and, yes, even a bit of drinking and swaping stories. This is known as a Brethren Bash and I'm going to let you get a glimpse of what goes on when you get that many BBQ nuts in one place!
This year we held the 5th Annual Midwest Bash at the Jellystone Park RV park in Lawrence, Kansas during the first weekend in November. This was our 4th year right here at this campground and I think that we'll be back for a long time :>). They have full hook-up RV spots or partial hook-ups, cabins for rent or you can pitch your tent here, too. And they have a big pavillion that we get free with 10 paid reservations - no problem getting ten with this crowd!
My wife and I left Des Moines around 9 am Friday and pulled into the campground at 3:30 that afternoon. The weather was great (for Kansas in November) and there were already about a dozen folks there before us. I dropped my 5th wheel trailer & headed over to the pavillion with my wife, Erma. Now, you've gotta understand that Erma's not a big fan of smoked meats and she's got rhumitiod (sp) arthritis, so she normally doesn't go with me to the comps that I judge. Most of the Brethren have never met my wife - in fact I've been told by a few of them that they doubt that I'm really married, they don't believe that any woman would put up with me for very long!
Any way, as we got down to the pavillion and I started to introduce Erma to the crowd, there were a few remarks like "Hey, there really is a Mrs,!!!" Vern (from Moo Cow BBQ) tried to get Erma to admit that I had hired her to say that she was my wife for the weekend. Boy, with friends like these .....
As the afternoon turned to evening people kept showing up some with travel trailers and some of the local KC folks just drove in for the evening. I was going to TRY to list those that were there, but with over 40 Brethren, plus wives, kids, friends, etc showing up there's no way that I can remember everyone. There was a couple of teams who did very well at the American Royal, a couple of teams who can and do teach cooking classes, a couple of teams who have their own brands of BBQ sauces, rubs and injections on the market and about a dozen judges! Talk about a mixed up cross section of the BBQ world :>).
Right away I started up my Ugly Cheese Bucket (aka the UCB) to smoke some unsalted butter. After it was smoked for about 45 minutes I started to clarify the butter and near the end of that step I tossed in some minced garlic so that I had clarified, smoked butter with a garlic infussion. Then I took the butter & injected it into
- - -
(wait for it)
- - -
CRAB LEGS!!! Ohhhh yeah! The steamer that I brought would only hold three clusters at a time and man, did those babies go fast! Hy-vee had crab legs on sale for 8 bucks a pound & I grabbed ten pounds to take to the Bash - if I would have bought 50 pounds I think that they would've dissapeared just as fast. All in all, I think that I smoked up about fifteen pounds of cheese plus some butter for others to take home (for popcorn, cornbread, etc.)
Vern and Shane brought out their big (about two feet across!) disc/wok and were frying up anything that they could put batter on - pickles, chunks of smoked cheese, jalapenos, shrimp - you name it & they fried it!
We had non-stop food from Friday evening untill Sunday morning and everything that I tried was great at the least. I think that one of the motto's of a Bash is that if there's too much food then there was just enough! No, wait - I stole that line from Bubbs Knapp, but it applies here, too.
A few of the "side" activities included a Scotch sampling and discussion group, a cigar smoke-in and the First Annual Spam Cook-Off (which was won by Steph (from theSlabs.com) with her Spam Oriental Potstickers.
I want to mention that this is a family-friendly Bash and a lot of people brought their kids with them, there must have been around a dozen or more of the little critters running all over the place. There was drinking but no one got out of hand and a good time was had by all - cooks and judges included! :>)
... I just joined Facebook and I'd like it if a bunch of you could go to my page "Dave Compton for KCBS Board of Directors" and give me a "like" on that page. This will help me get a seperate URL for the campaign page.
Thanx a bunch - as soon as I can get this election stuff sorted out I've got a couple of stories that you might find interesting.
A big "THANK YOU" to all who did this & helped me out! The link to the Facebook campaign page is;www.Facebook.com/DaveKCBS
Thanks again for youur support - I can't do this without YOU
...here's some of the things that I'd like to see happen:
I'd like to see the names of ALL members of the committees listed, not just the Board member who chairs the committee.
I'd like to see an END to the "No Report" each month that was happening quite a lot up until recently.
I'd like to find a way to get more regional representation on the BoD - the members have asked for it, so why don't we have it?
I'd like to see e-mail blasts that go to ALL members (cooks, judges,Reps, organizers, everyone) whenever there is a rule change or clarification. If they can do it to sell you a T-shirt then they can do it to let you know the important stuff, too. Notices in the Bullsheet are great but an e-mail blast gets the info to everyone right now and really doesn't cost very much to send.
I'd like to see e-mail blasts that remind us of the little things that are sometimes forgotten. Things like "Don't lick your fingers when taking meat out of the box to judge", "Don't judge down because the lid of the box has some sauce on it, it might not be the cook's fault", "Keep in mind that not everyone loves your choice of perfume or deoderant - please don't over apply".
I'd like to see a program that encourages and rewards judges who cook with different teams once a year or so.
I'd like to see more cooks judge a comp every once in a while, just to keep up with what the judges are looking for.
I'd like to see a program sponsered by KCBS where the organizers send out an e-mail to all cooks and judges inviting them to a get together on Friday evening. Maybe they could use the judges' tent for a pot luck, maybe just a meet & greet, or even an invitation to the judges to come on out with your name tags on & introduce yourself to some teams.
I'd like to see a program of continuing education offered for the judges, maybe a graduated system where judges can be rewarded for their knowledge. If we are all on the same page then judging scores will be more consistant. Getting all 8s & 9s in taste is a good thing - even getting all 5s & 6s tells the cook something. What drives a cook nuts is the 9,7,5,4,8,9 score - all he can say then is "WHAT the #@?!"
I'd like to see FEWER closed door sessions and back room deals. I know that some things (disipline, etc.) need to stay out of the public view for the most part, but after any investigation the results could be released.
I think that we need to get some idea of just what "AVERAGE" ( #6 ) on the score card means. Is it average of all of the BBQ that I've eaten in my life? Average of all of the compitition BBQ that I've tasted? Average of all of the retaurant BBQ that's out there? Where does the McRib score (ok, I'm joking on this one)?
I think that there needs to be some re-training of some of the CBJ Instructors - - - IF some of the things that I've heard are true, and I did say "IF".
I think that there are some very good programs that the KCBS does very well (public education about BBQ, philanthropy,etc.) but we should always be looking to see what else can be done to further the goals of our organization. But at the same time we should examine each request for money and every program that we have to see if it is in the best intrests of ALL of the members.
I'd also like to let you know that I'm running with three other men who are very passionate about BBQ and the KCBS. their names are Steve Farrin, Jeff Stith and George Mullins. We are each running because we think that there are things that need changing in KCBS. We have set up a web site where we introduce ourselves and our platforms and we will keep updating it as we get closer to the election. Here's a link to the site:http://www.changekcbs.com/index.html
Please feel free to let me know anything else that YOU would like to see happen - after all, it is YOUR organization!
And please remember to vote this year
I've decided to run for the KCBS Board of Directors this year.
First of all, I started out helping a buddy of mine cook on a team back in 2006 for around 5 or 6 contests. I've since cooked with two other teams (one time each) and I've become a KCBS Master CBJ, having judged over 60 comps in 5 BBQ seasons.
I'm not a Rep or a contest organizer, I don't write books or put on cooking classes - I'm just a guy who loves BBQ and wants to help KCBS to become a better organization.
I'm a judge who has a desire to get the judges and cooks to know each other.
I'm one of the very few judges that I ever see on Friday evening or staying for the awards and I want to see more of us there.
I'm a guy who has introduced at least 6 CBJs to teams so that they can get their Masters badge. I'm a guy who wonders why none of these folks knew a cook & what can we do to solve this.
I'm sure that if a judge gets to know a few cooks that judge will want to see his/her new friends get a call at the awards - it gives me a thrill to watch it happen! At the American Royal this year I spent a lot of time visiting with a lot of my friends, two of which (Tippycanoe and R Butts R Smokin') took the Grand and Reserve in the Invitational! Let me tell you it was great seeing FRIENDS get the top calls! I'd like to see a whole bunch more CBJs get to know these cooks and find out that they are pretty good people.
I'm a guy who would like to get a program where judges can see what all of the rule changes are - the Reps get advisories all the time, why not the CBJs? I'd like to get more judges involved in the decision making proccess of our organization. I'd like more input from the judges on what rule changes THEY would like to see.
In the near future I'll be posting more about what changes I'd like to see in the KCBS. In the meantime, I'm hoping that I can win your support and your vote. Last year less than 25% of the eligable voters cast a ballot in the KCBS election, so remember that every vote counts!
KCBS # 22569
There's been a lot of talk (some good, some bad) about the so-called "animosity" between cooks and judges lately. I should know - I started some of it :>). I really feel that there is more of a lack of communication between the two groups and that they have a lot more in common than they have in differences. One way to help solve this would be for the two groups to get together and exchange names, ideas, maybe even phone numbers (gasp!) and get to know each other as people rather than as "cooks" or "judges".
Here's one way that we do it in Iowa:
For the past two years a central Iowa BBQ team (Smokehouse 72) has sponsered what they call a "Frost Buster" compitition in the early spring of each year. There's no entry fee and no prize money - just a bunch of folks who love BBQ and want to get better at it. The thing about this comp is that the judges are encouraged to come out either Friday or early Saturday to visit with the cooks - right up until it's time to build the boxes!
That's right - we "fratranize" with the teams!!!
We come out and talk to the cooks before, durring and after they are preping & cooking their entries. The only thing that the judges can't see is the actual building of the turn-in box. We can (and do) ask plenty of questions about any and every thing involved. Most of the cooks will answer all of the questions, some will hold back a secret or two - no big deal either way.
All four KCBS meats are cooked, turned in and judged just as though this were a real comp with prize money and everything with just a couple of exceptions: all of each teams entries will be judged at the same table and the judges can (& do) make notes on the score sheets about the entries. Now comes the real fun part .....
We give the teams their scores verbally! Yep, each team is called in one by one and each judge gives his scores to the team while looking the cook right dead in the eye!
"I gave you a 7 in taste because ..." "You got a tad mushy on the pulled, that's what cost you a 9" ... et cetera.
Now, the cook can chime in any time that he wants to and ask any question that comes to mind - like "What do you mean the flavor was off - how was it "off"? ... "What can I do to make this 7 in appearance into an 8 or 9?"
See??? No more of "Why did he gave a 7?" This gives the cooks the answer to "What the #@(&! was he thinking?" And it also makes the judge justify his scores to the cook. All in all, not a bad deal!
Last year we had this at an RV campground where we all got a good camping rate because Ray & Jay (Smokehouse 72) know the folks there ... also because they were invited to the chili pot luck Friday night and were given some of the left overs by the cooks :>). In fact I do believe that they right then & there invited us back for the next year's "Frost Buster" in Colo, Iowa. We all had a blast, cooks and judges got to know each other, each got a tad more insight into where the other guy was coming from, and we found out that we didn't have to have the "animosity" between us!
Maybe some one else out there can take this idea & run with it. Maybe some contest organizer will talk to the cooks about sending an e-mail blast to the judges inviting them out on Friday evening or staying for the awards Saturday afternoon. Maybe we can all work together for the betterment of our sport.
Well, it's been almost a month since I read the front page article in the August 2011 edition of the KCBS Bullsheet and I'm still puzzled by & fuming over it. Maybe you read it, too. The one where Dawn was talking to another CBJ about going down & helping out at the tornado relief effort in Joplin? Where the CBJ said, and I quote the article here, "I wanted to volunteer, but you know how teams feel about judges."
BULLSHEET!!!!!! Where the fark did THAT come from?????
Maybe I haven't been paying attention over the past 5 bbq seasons, but I fail to see the so-called "animosity" (another direct quote from the article) between the cooks & the judges. Yeah, there's always the "What was judge # 4 thinking when he gave me a 7 on taste?" that you hear and there's quite a bit of good natured ribbing that goes on - but "animosity"?
Maybe they we're talking about the "animosity" that Bubba & Herb had when they flagged me down at Nevada, Iowa this weekend to tell me about the potluck dinner that would start at 7 pm that night? Or maybe it was the "animosity" that Tyler & Becky had when they saw me walking through Excelsior Springs, Missouri a couple of weeks ago and invited me to stop & visit? Or was it the "animosity" that Steph and Kyle always show at any comp that I see them at? Or the "animosity" that Randy had for me at Nevada when we hadn't seen each other since early June? The same with Andy & Kim, or Todd, or Ryan? Or damn near any of the other cooking teams that I know? Curt? Jorge? Rob? Marc? Chris? Scott? Anyone???
While I fail to see this "animosity" that the article talks about, I do see a disconnect between judges and cooks because they don't know each other. For the most part, the only time that a cook sees a judge is Saturday morning when the judge is on his way to the tent, and at that point "fraternizing" is a no-no. The rules say no fraternizing on the day of judging until judging is completed and that is where a lot of judges have a misconception, they think that they can't talk to a cook at any time, ever.
That would help explain the fact that I have personally introduced at least 6 CBJs to cooking teams (for their Master's) because they didn't know any teams. I'm pretty sure that if a judge walked up to a team on Friday evening and said that they were judging tomorrow & wanted to see what happens on this side of the turn-in table, well, I'm thinking that 95% of the teams out there would invite them in, sit them down & try to pick the judge's brain for what THEY wanted to have served the next day. After all,the cooks know that if the judges don't like the entry then the scores are going to tank! Some of the disconnect also comes from the cook's side of the table when all they see of a judge is when he comes in carring a cooler, not even saying "Good morning & good luck!", and then leaving right after the judging. The only thing worse (and I've seen this!) is when a CBJ comes up to a team & asks if they have any "extra" ribs to get rid of.
Cooks and judges need to meet and get to know each other, they might be surprised just how much they have in common. But for that to happen the judges need to come out & visit on Friday evening. The cooks can't come to us - we have to go to them.
So that we can end this so-called "animosity".
This Fourth of July weekend I helped to judge a contest at the Sam's Club in Overland Park, Kansas. I could have picked another contest for that weekend (in fact there was one about 12 miles from my step-daughter's house) but I looked at the list of teams cooking this one and out of 30 teams I knew 14 of them, 5 or 6 of them very well. So I decided that this would be a great time to combine visiting with friends and judging what I just knew was going to be some top notch food into one great weekend!
One of the teams was hosting a pot luck that I got an invite to, so I showed up about 6:30 pm Friday with a large platter of various flavors of cheeses that I had cold smoked earlier that week. There must have been 50 people or more who showed up and so many different foods that I lost track of who brought what - but it was all very good! Every one had a great time eating, laughing, talking, and yes, having a beverage or two :>)
After the pot luck I wandered around visiting & meeting new friends untill about 11:30 pm. Now, let me explain that KCBS rules say that there is to be NO fraternizing with the teams (or drinking) the day of judging until judging is over. I take that to mean that I had better be gone from the comp area & on my way to my fifth wheel trailer by midnight; that's my personal deadline. Anyway, I was pulling out of the parking lot right at midnight, heading for "home."
The next morning (Saturday) I was up & at Sam's Club a little after 9 am, well before the 10 am meeting. I'm kinda on the large side and I like to grab an end seat if I can. It not only gives me more room but my fellow judges aren't so squashed together, either. The weather forecast was just one word for Saturday: HOT!!! And we were judging on an asphalt parking lot under a big tent with no A/C. We did have two large fans set up, one at each end of the tent with one blowing air in & the other pulling air out. So we did have a breeze and that sure helped a lot! Before we started the judging the organizer, Mike Lake, asked if I could help him roll up some of the tent side panels for more air - I was all over that :>)
Now, on to the judging. Out of 30 teams there were at least 20 who had won a Grand Championship in the past and the quality of the food reflected that. Almost every entry earned at least a 7 in each criteria: appearance, taste & tenderness/texture. If I remember right I gave at least one perfect (9-9-9) score and quite a few got all 8s & 9s - this was a very tough field of cooks. About the only really bad entry was one box of ribs that just had no flavor - kinda like most of the resturaunt ribs out there - and they left the membrane on!
All in all, this was one of the best comps that I've judged. The cooking spots were decent sized, power seemed adequate and there was always someone coming around to pick up the trash or ask if you needed ice or anything. There was plenty of room in the judging tent, the fans did a good job, lots of bottled water on ice. The judges were all there on time, the meeting started on time, everything went just like it should ... which doesn't always happen :>)
-- Dave Compton
I remember the very first BBQ competition that I judged. It was in Marshalltown, Iowa way back in June of 2007 (geez, I'm on my 5th year already!) and I was one nervous puppy, let me tell you.
I'd cooked with a team (Q'n for Fun) 4 or 5 times by now and I thought that I knew what good BBQ was supposed to look & taste like. The fact that I couldn't make it look or taste like that is beside the point. :>)
I was judging with my buddy, John, who is a Master CBJ and a comp cook and he's the one that got me started in this sport/hobby/obsession. We got there early enough to get seats at the same table and he started introducing me to some of the judges that he knew. I made it a point to introduce myself to the Reps and our Table Captain and let them know that they had a newbie in the house. I asked the T.C. to keep an eye on my scores and let me know if I was way off from the other judges' scores because I didn't want to be giving 6s and 7s if everyone else thought it should be 8s & 9s or vice versa.
Now, I'd been warned that there would be 2 to 3 pounds of food put in front of me that day so I had better not eat breakfast and pace myself if I didn't want to be overly stuffed before we were done judging. BUT ..... when that first chicken box opened and the tantalizing smell hit my nose - well, it was all that I could do not to grab that box from the Table Captain & dig right in. Somehow I managed to restrain myself, but it wasn't easy! After we got all 6 samples on our plates it was time to taste, evaluate & score each entry. And that, my friends, is a whole lot harder than it sounds. We had some thighs that must have been dipped in honey (I'm not big on sweets) and we had sliced chicken breast that was very moist & tender. One was tough and dry. Each entry has to be judged on its own merits "as presented by the cook" and no comparing entries to each other! I did the very best that I could do to judge each entry fairly and to the best of my ability.
As a cook, I knew how much time, work and money went into these contests, and as a judge I'm not supposed to think of this. The only thing that I'm supposed to worry about is this a good example of what the cook was trying to create? I must have done ok because our Table Captain said that my scores were right there with the other judges most of the time.
I think that I learned more from talking to the other judges in between categories than I did in the judges' class. After 50 or so contests I'm sure that I learned more by talking to the other judges. "What did you think of number three?", "Number six was all about chili powder - nothing else!", "Number two was one of the best ribs that I've had all year!", "Number four was going good with his sliced and pulled pork - then he ruined it with those chunks!". Like I said, you can get an education at a judging table.
One of the big surprises, at least to me, was that there were a few entries that just flat out were not what I would call competition quality. Not many, but still a few. At the time I wondered why anyone would turn in something like that after paying the entry fee, buying the meat, doing all of that work - why, why, why?
Now, five years and 50 contests later, I understand that sometimes things just don't go right no matter what you do, but you're gonna keep on trying until you get it right.
Hello out there! This is the first time that I've tried this "blog" business, so bear with me,ok?
I'm into my fifth year of KCBS judging and it's still about the best "hobby" that a guy could have. Think about it; I get to travel around the midwest visiting with some of the nicest people in the country and eating BBQ that John Q. Public can only dream about.
I started this journey when a buddy of mine by the name of John Parks (Q'n for Fun BBQ Team), who was a Master CBJ even way back then, invited me to a comp that he was cooking in State Center, Iowa. I hung out all that day helping where I could but mainly getting in the way of John & his wife, Mary. Then came another comp & I went with John on Friday morning, setting up EZ-ups, hauling water, unloading smokers, lifting that bale, toting that barge, etc. After we got all set up we had a chance to go out & visit with the other cooking teams. We had a few beers, met a lot of new friends, tasted some of the side dishes that everyone seems to do sooo well! Then it was back to "our" spot, starting the cookers, getting dinner going, doing the final preps on the compition meats, eating, loading the big meats in the cookers, but this time I wasn't in the way so much! By the time that my third comp came around I was actually helping John & Mary a bit instead of getting in thier way.
After I had helped (?) out at 2 or 3 comps I took the CBJ class at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa that was taught by Mike & Theresa Lake. We learned what was expected of us as judges, how to tell if the box contained illegal meat or garnish, what the scoring system meant, how the KCBS defines different meats, what the Table Captains & Reps jobs are and a whole bunch of other things that a judge really needs to know. What we did NOT learn was anything about a "flavor profile" or how an entry "should" taste - that's all very subjective for each judge. We're NOT supposed to judge as to what we like, but rather to judge if this was a good example of the style that the cook was trying achieve.
And what could be the most important thing of all - at least to a cook - judging the box "as presented" by the cook. To me that means that if it's in the box it's gonna get judged! When you build that pork box you'd better make sure that the slices, chunks or pulled is "up to snuff" or leave that part out of the box. It also means that if you turn in wings, then I should ask myself if these are some dang fine wangs, not beotch that I didn't get the candied thighs that seems to be the norm. It's all about "As presented by the cook".
That's it for this episode of a newbie cook turning into a newbie judge - see ya later!
-- Dave Compton
Editors Note: Here is a video of Dave Compton giving a lesson on how to smoke cheese. I've had the pleasure to experience Dave's cheese at several BBQ contests. Tasty stuff! Very interesting video, too. Enjoy! HK