I really enjoy the thrill of BBQ and grilling competitions. It is a personal challenge to go out and turn in your BBQ to the judges. Different sanctioning bodies have different rules for judging. Some contests allow the judges to visit the cook sites of competitors so the team can present their entry in person. Others keep the judges away from the competitors and the judges only see a numbered box of meat. That’s called blind judging because the judges don’t know who turned in the box. The vast majority of contests I compete in fall into this last category.
If you ever find yourself in the position of needing to present your BBQ to competition judges, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Keep your cuts of meat nice and clean. Jagged edges look messy and can detract from your final mark.
- If using a garnish, make sure to spritz it with water just before placing the meat on it. That will help the produce look fresh and inviting.
- Look for garnish that’s the same shade of green. For example, take a look at lettuce. It can vary in shades. Use the same shade of green whenever possible.
- If you don’t have enough pretty produce to work with concentrate on the outer inch at the edges that the judge will see. The rest is covered with meat so put your less than desirable produce in the middle.
- Big gobs of sauce are never appealing – use sauce lightly.
- Spritz your meats with warm water just before turn-in time for shine.
- Always remember you have, on average, one bite to impress and leave an impression on the judges. BBQ judging is a tasting contest, not an eating contest and most judges just take one bite of your offering.
- You want your entry to stand out but not in the wrong way. You may like five-spice powder, but it may be too exotic an ingredient for many judges. There is a saying: The judges write the checks. Serve the judges great tasting food that looks appealing and doesn’t give them any reason to take points away.