It was obvious from the packet of instructions for the judges that the organizers of the Big BBQ Bash knew what they were doing. I’ve been invited to judge a few cooking contests over the years. Usually the instructions are to choose which entry deserves first place, second place and so on. The judges can then argue among themselves for or against a particular dish.
At the Big BBQ Bash, the instructions reminded me of contests that are sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, such as the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg. Chris Flynn, one of the organizers, told me they had in fact contacted the folks at “The Jack” for some advice.
The contest was held on Saturday at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson in Maryville. It was a fundraiser for the Helen Ross McNabb Center. The judges were from an assortment of local businesses. Taz Cable had been invited to judge and he asked if I could also be included. It was great to judge “real” barbeque: chicken, ribs and pulled pork. Because I am not KCBS certified, I was only eligible to judge the extraneous categories like “Anything Bush’s Beans” at Sevierville’s Bloomin’ BBQ & Bluegrass festival last month.
For me, a big part of the fun of attending barbeque contests is the names of the teams. I also like to see the huge smokers they tow from one contest to the next. Parton’s Smokin’ Butz BBQ had a great looking trailer. Uncultured Swine had the funniest name and logo. Two well-known local businesses, Alcoa and Sharpie entered teams as well. The judging was blind. I don’t know who cooked the chicken and ribs that I liked best.
The judging was done in a nice room adjacent to The Shed. It could have been used as a green room for the artists or as a smaller performance space. Between rounds, I needed to wash the barbeque sauce off my face and hands. I had to stop and really study the rest room signs before going in. As far as I could tell, the men’s and women’s rooms were labeled in Klingon.