Originally Posted by NickelsWorth
As a rookie, I want to spare the other rookies out there the lesson I learned very hard after competing in a city picnic, best of chicken and ribs event.
I was stoked about this event! I would be using a rub my team mate and I developed along with a BBQ sauce recipe I have been developing for months, and on the third rendition of now, for the team. Now the rub was not rocket science, however it was from scratch and consists of some special secret ingredients, but the sauce has been a huge effort. I have been working with a 7 time World Champion BBQ competitor and winner twice, who we are fortunate to have local, revising and perfecting this sauce. Here in lies "the rub" or "how I got sauced"! And to top it all off, my team mate and I decided to compete against each other with our family as our teams, my team mate using the off-the-shelf stuff and me using our team's sauce and rub.
The lesson I want you to learn is, before you go to great efforts in making a batch of your sauce for a competition, find out who or what kind of judges will be judging the event. Not by name, but, for example, city mayor, council members, professional, certified, or "who have never done it but were day trained to suffice", etc.
If you happen to know that it will be a panel consisting of the sorts like city mayor, council members, directors of whatnot (all great people and there to have fun), then do not go to the effort of making a batch of competition sauce, save this kind of sauce for the professional events, not the city picnic or streat fair. It is a waste of a huge amount of effort in precompetition prep.
For events like city picnics, with the mayor, directors, council members judging, just go buy a bottle of your favorite, sugary, thick sauce and use it - i.e. Sweet Baby Rays like my team mate used. Maybe tweek it a bit so you can say it's yours, but don't do too much to ruin it. And also don't go to great efforts to make you special rub either; Old Bay, Johnny's, Lowrey's, or the like will do.
This is the lesson I learned the hard way. They went immediately for the sweet, home backyard variety, off-the-shelf sauce and the generic flavor of the off-the-shelf bottled spice. I placed 7 out of 7 in both categories and didn't even place in the top 5 in either category - admitting that the chicken, although moist, tender, and looking great, I had no chance in placing because it tasted too salty due to my way of seasoning, I screw that up. But the ribs, that was where I was extremely disappointed, but I was only one of two that didn't use store bought BBQ sauce....the other guy didn't place in the top three, I think he was fifth in ribs. The winners used the proven, of-the-shelf sauces.
Do your reseach and, if going to a competition at a picnic, just go to have fun and not compete as if on a professional circuit, it will be much more rewarding.