KCBS Certified BBQ Judge – Meathenge Labs are one!

Yup, you heard it right. I spent over 5 hours today with Chilebrown and his wife Ms. Goofy in a classroom getting fully instructed while eating chicken, pork ribs, sliced/pulled pork and beef brisket. Neat, eh?
The class started this morning at 7:30 in Fairfield California, just 30 minutes from home. I signed up a month ago or more, they don’t come to town often and the chance to attend wasn’t an option. While I did guest judge the 5th Annual West Coast Championships, I felt it was time to make it legal.
Don’t get me wrong, sure it was fun and the food was really good. But it was an instructional class in every sense of the word. We were schooled in every aspect of judging BBQ by KCBS rules. And brother, or sister, that ain’t no joke. These people take what they do very seriously. The sheer volume of respect they have for the teams is huge. They go way out of their way to make damned sure it’s fair.
You sit a specific direction when judging, no talking, no sitting next to friends. You must be on time and if you don’t show? You’re very well bloody likely to never judge again. Green lettuce, parsley and cilantro are your only garnish, use the white part of iceburg and you’re marked as disqualified for Appearance. If the pork rib meat falls-off-the-bone? Marked down, it should come clean with a tug with your teefs. When a judge reaches for a pork rib and two come away? You get 2 and the 6th judge gets none, everyone marks this team as 1 (disqualified) for Appearance. For me, the most important part of the judging is to rule your decision based upon the merit of that BBQ. You cannot judge it based on how well you cook, or whether you prefer something different. I like that part.
Soon I will be receiving my card, a judge polo shirt and a certificate stating my place in the circle of true BBQ competition judges. I’m a greenhorn to judging and competition, but not to good barbecue.
If you’d like to see a few more pictures from the day, please visit KCBS Judging Class 2009.

12 thoughts on “KCBS Certified BBQ Judge – Meathenge Labs are one!

  1. “Here come da judge, Here come da judge!”
    Doc, you have arrived! But, you were always there, anyway! I’m sure your expertise in judging good BBQ was well respected and well taken. Keep us all apprised of what KCBS thought of your participation. Bet you get a straight “A”.

  2. I’m always tickled to see how we formalize everything we do as humans, from restoring cars to judging barbecue – and each specialty has it’s own lingo, too.

  3. I hope the polo shirts are white. Soon each stain will be an indication of your experience as a judge.
    Showing up to judge a competition wearing that mornings breakfast on one’s shirt should, however, be grounds for dismissal.
    Have fun!

  4. Great! But, you realize you’ll never be invited to my house for barbecue. Unless you’re doing the cooking. Hey! Sounds good. OK. Congratulations, and lucky me.

  5. Fascinated by the rules you reported! Glad to know there ARE rules, and not just fancies and likes involved. I’m sure you will honor the society and be a judge worthy of the calling. (And you didn’t even have to get grilled –heh — like Sotomayor!)

  6. Your Highness, I just wanted you to know that you have the best hobby in the world. All Hail Biggles! So did this count as your Confirmation Hearings, Judge?
    Jeez, I bet homework is a pain in the butt…..

  7. Hey Dr., Lori & I took the PM class, it was a blast- we didn’t take pics but I’m glad to know you had that covered…threw our names into the ring for judging Fairfield next month, mebbe we’ll see you there, cheers!

  8. I’m curious if you think the KCBS judging rules correspond to your opinion of what make good barbecue. I ask this because, to me, how the meat and garnish is arranged on a plate has nothing to do with whether it’s good barbecue. But I’m open to learning something…

  9. Hey Weber L,
    That’s an excellent question and a tough one at the same time. On one point, I love their rules. When you’re a judge at a KCBS event, you’re asked to judge the meat on its own merit. Do not compare it to your own que or your own tastes. One of the things you judge on is appearance. It’s not up to your own tastes and opinions. This way, these hardworking teams get judged fairly. Just think what would happen to the judging if you had a judge that didn’t like sauce on their meat? Or did? So, every piece that had sauce, got marked down. That’s not right.
    As far as plating and garnish are concerned, I think it does when you have guests over or want to impress someone. Restaurants do it so the meal not only tastes good, but is pleasing to the eye. Of course it matters most what the food actually tastes like, but if it looks like a pile of dung with sprouts, I wouldn’t go near it.
    That being said, meat does come to the judging table without garnish too. Sometimes the ribs are so perfect in every way, it works. But if you have a pulled pork entry, seeing that in just a lump in the middle of the foam box really doesn’t do it for me. Would be nice to have some contrasting greens in there to make it happy.
    Judge fairly and enjoy the show!

  10. Just took the KCBS CBJ class and would like to use your rib photo on my blog with your permission of course. It is way better than any photos I got. I would of course give credit where credit is due. Would you mind?