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nmayeux 08-15-2006 05:19 PM

Competition Lessons
This could be one of those threads that could be continuously added to, but I did learn a few valuable lessons this weekend. Enjoy:

1. Don't try your first contest by yourself. I really missunderstood the amount of work, especially with the bad weather.

2. Bring it, because you will probably need it. Zip ties, parachute cord, extra injector, strainer, etc...

3. Be very patient with the spectators. It seems that "your space" is actually public space! My one regret is being short with a couple who wanted to samply my pork while I was putting together the turn-in box. If nobody explains it to the public, then how will they know how to act? Don't expect common sense...

4. Be generous with the other competitors, and they will be generous back. I did not understand how helpful my competition really was. There was only one team that had a couple of prima-donnas, but everybody else treated me like I was partner rather than a competitor. I made a lot of new friends!

5. Practice, practice, practice! Even though we had practiced, two of our turn-in boxes were a disaster. Pretty much throw the lettuce and meat in the box, and try to keep as much rain as possible out! We never tried to put one together under stress, and it showed.

6. Write out your schedule. I was amazed at all the PDAs, dry erase boards, Excel spreadsheets, notebooks, etc. It really makes a difference, especially when alcohol is involved.:mrgreen:

7. Expect the unexpected. We budgeted our time for brisket on several that we had done at about the same size. For some reason, this one didn't get stuck:evil: ! The damn thing was done an hour and a half early. Pretty frustrating...

Bub-Ba-Q 08-15-2006 05:27 PM

That first one is a real slap in the face. Now that you have done it, things will be easier. There are alot of things to make it go smoother. Ask or use trhe tools you think neccesary to accomplish that. I personally use my gut and experience as a schedule.

Was nice meeting you and hope to see ya again. Maybe Covington Ga?


nmayeux 08-15-2006 05:34 PM

I sure hope so Bubba. You and your family really made this a great first experience. I must admit, I really enjoyed watching that little girl run you and your wife! She sure was a cutie.

Bub-Ba-Q 08-15-2006 05:53 PM

Thks!!! She knows that she is queen of the castle. As much as I am there to compete, I really enjoy the people. Makes it all the better when my family can be around. I am acually looking to by a trailer so that we can be a little more comfy on the road.


G$ 08-15-2006 06:44 PM


Originally Posted by nmayeux
This could be one of those threads that could be continuously added to, but I did learn a few valuable lessons this weekend. Enjoy:

I love info like this. Thanks for sharing.

ggriffi 08-15-2006 07:38 PM


Thanks so much for your thoughts. We are just a little over 2 months away from our first comp so I read this with great interest. I agree with everything but would like to add one thing that I am doing for practice. The first practice I did with 2 briskets, 2 butts, 6 slabs of bb's, and 12 thighs just to see how everything fit on my grill. Everything fit fine and tasted even better! However my timing was off a bit, so this past weekend I did just chicken and ribs to work on how long these really needed. I am going to cook these again this weekend to just make sure. After that I will do butts and briskets twice, once to get an idea for the timing and second time time to verify. Then three weeks before comp I am going to do a full cook but I am going to start this at about 8 or 9 a.m. using the timing that I have figured out for everything from the earlier practice sessions. My reason for this is that this will be the first time I will be cooking all at once since the very first practice, so if I need a little longer time for things I will have a better idea. Then the weekend before I will do everything just like I plan for the comp, starting Fri. night.

This might be overkill and might not work for a lot folks but this is just my plan for now, always subject to change though.


nmayeux 08-15-2006 08:22 PM

Sounds like you are on your way! The only thing that I did different, is that I cooked my chicken on a Weber kettle. I used the charcoal baskets to cook indirectly, but at a higher temp than the rest of the meats. The chicken was great, and the skin was very crispy. However, I'm not sure it was the sauce or the rain, but we could not get the sauce to flash out like a glaze. Anyway, good luck, and I'm glad I could help!

MilitantSquatter 08-15-2006 08:28 PM

Well said Noah.... Practices were great for us too even under contest timelines, but there's not better test than doing it for real..

ggriffi - good luck with your plan... It will payoff for you....

Sawdustguy 08-15-2006 09:26 PM


Don't forget to use the search key here. There is a ton of information on the forum. It would be a shame not to utilize it.

Jeff_in_KC 08-15-2006 11:02 PM

One thing I learned from Poobah was that it'll take about six contests under your belt before things REALLY just kinda "click" and so forth. Damned if he wasn't right! He was actually dead on for us. We did well in our 5th (two 3rds) but felt a bit "off". Even though we got no calls (the GAB... 207 teams), we felt really "together" the next contest, our sixth. The seventh, we did awesome and finished 3rd out of 45 teams. We've gotten in 12 contests now and are still learning but I don't have to use a timeline like I used to. I just kinda got this internal clock thing going that says "Time to make the doughnuts". Oops... that was a commercial. Anyway, you get where I'm coming from I hope.

ModelMaker 08-16-2006 06:55 AM

My Gawd GGRIFFI!! I hope you have a lot of hungry neighbors thats a ton of food your plannin on cookin up!!
Good luck though.

Sawdustguy 08-16-2006 07:54 AM


Originally Posted by ModelMaker
My Gawd GGRIFFI!! I hope you have a lot of hungry neighbors thats a ton of food your plannin on cookin up!!
Good luck though.

That is pretty much right on the money for a competition. Some teams cook more, some cook less. We do about the same except we do 24 thighs. Remember you are trying to pick the best of what you have made. On average it cost about $100 for meat for competition with ribs being the most expensive of the bunch. We ask our visitors to show up after turn-in and we take home enough for about one meal.

The_Kapn 08-16-2006 07:58 AM

Moderator's Note.

This tread Road Mapped.
It has excellent potential to be a useful thread.


nmayeux 08-16-2006 08:13 AM

Thanks for road mapping this thread. Also, as far as the amount of food that you cook, the more food, the more choices for turn in. Out of three butts, we used the pulled from one, and the bark from another. By doing more than one, it gave us several choices to pursue. We cooked a lot of food, and brought home very little. SDG hit it with about enough for one meal. Our friends and spectators cleaned us out, and were very appreciative. This was one of the unexpected plusses.

Kirk 08-16-2006 11:06 AM


Originally Posted by nmayeux
3. Be very patient with the spectators. Don't expect common sense...

Ain't it the truth. I've only done one fairly small local comp, but I couldn't believe what some spectators would do or say. One guy actually reached into the bowl I was using to sauce my pork and tried to grab a hunk without even asking. He got yelled at. My patience is tested by stupidity but it ends at rudeness. I guess the lesson here is to expect the unexpected from the public and set up your prep area so that you can have a little seperation from passers by.

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