Competitive cooking is about food, competition, and most of all, passion for the craft! From an outsider’s perspective, competitive cooking may just look like one large barbecue outing, but there are so many more interesting nuances. From the various categories running concurrently, to the meticulous timing of the grilling, there’s a lot to learn. Here are a handful of things you may not have known about competitive outdoor cooking:
1. Types of Events
Generally, there are four different types of competitive cooking events. Group events usually involve the community and some type of fundraiser, and are much more casual. Promotional events are through marketing programs and/or celebrity endorsements, and have more flair than anything else. Commercial events simply offer mass quantities of barbecue for sale, and seem like a huge, delicious buffet. Finally, Major Competitions are for the serious grilling and smoking enthusiasts who have worked tirelessly at their craft.
2. “Olympics” of Grilling
The so-called “Olympics” of competitive cooking is usually referring to the American Royal Barbecue, held in Kansas City once a year. There are close to 500 teams that compete each year, and the event covers more than 20 acres in Kansas City’s historic Stockyards District!
3. The KCBS
One of the most prevalent sanctioning bodies of barbecue is the Kansas City Barbecue Society. A KCBS contest always consists of the same four categories – chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket. Each entry in these competitions are blind judged, and are scored on appearance, tenderness, and most importantly, taste.
While many think about the prize money in competitions, the costs can sometimes be overlooked. Those looking to compete in a sanctioned event will need to set aside a small budget in order to do so. Most KCBS-sanctioned cook-offs average around $100 for the entry fee. Once entered, the costs of all the food you’re buying can start to add up, along with other essentials, like spices and sauces, presentation items, cooking gear, and much more.
5. What to Bring
Here are some essentials to bring to your typical barbecue competition: smoker, a couple pork butts, a couple briskets, many pieces of chicken, and at least three racks of ribs. Also, any sauce you plan on using, spice rubs, marinades, charcoal and/or wood for cooking. Finally, you’ll need cooking gear and accessories, plenty of ice, and anything you plan on using for presentation of your food.
Written by Ian Baranesky of The Smoker Broker
The Smoker Broker is the go-to resource for competitive-grade smokers and grills and all things BBQ in Canada. With a passion for BBQ and great experience, they carry the best BBQ products to sell to stores and direct to consumers. As the exclusive Canadian distributor for Yoder Smokers, the Smoker Broker looks for the highest quality grills and accessory products to bring to the public.
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