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First KCBS comp- issues on judging. Normal?

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Posted by Dan in Norcal on July 31, 2012 at 14:33:20:

We entered our first KCBS competition last weekend and I guess did pretty well for a couple of rookies (6th in chicken, 8th in ribs, 12th in pork and 16th in brisket out of 18 teams). I was concerned when after I trimmed the chicken, we had a pretty big variation in size so the box sure didn't look all pretty and symmetrical like some teams turn-in wherein the chicken thighs all look like pillows. That being said, I was shocked when 2 judges gave it 9's! Happy dance... Til another gave it a 6 (the rest were 8, 7, and 7). I get that in taste and texture you can have wide variations because each piece can cook differently (because they weren't trimmed down to a uniform size, they did finish at slightly different times), but how can 2 judges look at the SAME box and come out with 2 wildly different scores????? I thought such a spread wasn't supposed to happen in appearance. Isn't the table captain supposed to step in? Or do they only step in with a 4 point spread or higher?

One mitigating factor: this was the first BBQ contest (Siskiyou Beef Country Cookoff) thrown by the organizers and so maybe this kind of thing happens until the reps get things ironed out and judges get experience? (Note: supposedly all the judges were 100% KCBS certified, but since most were local, I bet this was a bunch of first time judges).

Is it the new normal to trim the chicken to look like pillows or round little muffins? Or do some teams trim 'em to a uniform trapezoidal shape and still win? I prefer this as it still looks like chicken to me, but if that ain't what wins, then I guess I'll go through the trouble and trim extra meat off even though it seems such a big waste.

BTW, what an expensive hobby! Holy cow! And talk about coming home totally drained Saturday night after getting 2 hours of sleep Friday! It was nice to here our name called twice in the top 10 (no walk), but missing out on some money but less than a point in chicken sure hurt! I do have to say all of the teams we met were gracious and willingly offered advice and help when they could. Y'all got a great community here.

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