As the use of the web grows, so does the use of forums, blogs, etc. where people converse, share opinions, etc. It's wonderful. For barbecue enthusiasts it provides us a platform to discuss our love other than on weekends when competing/judging and we're too tired to think straight. It's wonderful.
Lately, from what I've been reading, nothing seems more controversial than the judging and subsequent scoring of appearance. Interesting point of note, that I know of, all of the sanctioning bodies that train and certify judges have only 1 category where they train pretty much exactly the same, and it's the Appearance category. Judges are trained that it is subjective, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that what you're scoring is how appetizing the entry is to you (the beholder). That's it. Allow me to reiterate: how appetizing the entry is to the beholder. The one key word in this: appetizing.
The question each judge should ask themselves each time they gaze in the box is a very simple question:
Is this entry appetizing?
The answer comes in the emotion stirred. If the beholder has an uncontrollable urge to grab a piece and take a bite, then by all means that's a perfect score (in KCBSland that's a 9, MBN is a 10). Everything else is a step down from there, each score defined by the different sanctioning bodies.
There's been very little argument/discussion about the above. However, there has been lots of discussion and some heated debates about what is and isn't appetizing, and what should and shouldn't get high scores in the Appearance category, and why.
Everyone, judge and cook alike, should know that this category is probably the most subjective category out there. What is appetizing to one person may not be appetizing to another. It gets to human psyche. I'm sure that all of Pavlov's dogs didnt salivate every time; some probably weren't as motivated as others. It's nature.
One thing I would caution both judge and cook alike is this: please stick to your training and the definition of the category, which is (as stated above): is this appetizing.
There has been a growing trend lately (fueled by BBQ Pitmasters TV series) of muffin pan chicken. While some (dare I say most) people find the little round pieces of chicken beautiful and appetizing, there are a number of other people that dont find it appetizing whatsoever.
I think you'll find that pork that is cut or sliced tends to be regional in its appeal and what is and isn't appetizing.
Some clever cooks have a sense of humor and proudly display it when using the money muscle in their pork presentation. Just know that some people find it appetizing, and others dont.
I'm not here to debate which is right or which is wrong. I just want judges to remember their training, and cooks to understand that it's about appetizing and what is and isn't appetizing. It's that simple.
Remember, as judges, we're not here to give bonus points for effort. If you find it (whatever it is) appetizing, sco