I judged my first barbecue contest today! It was the Smoke on the Water USA Barbecue Championship in North Little Rock. The contest is considered the world's richest and it kicks off the competition season for many competitors.
Here's BBQ Pitmasters star Harry Soo. His site was right next to the judging area.
This was a Kansas City Barbeque Society contest, the largest barbeque certification agency. For those not familiar with KCBS competitions, teams compete in four categories - chicken, ribs (pork only), pork butt, and brisket. We judges grade six samples of each category. So each judge samples six pieces of chicken, six ribs (or racks, depending on presentation), six pieces of pork and six pieces of brisket. I gotta tell ya, even just sampling a bit or two of each, it is A LOT of food!
The entries we received at the table I was at were stellar. Each piece of chicken was wonderful, we had some great ribs, very good pulled pork and good brisket (one sample was phenomenal). I was looking forward to the pulled pork least - it's something we get a lot of here in Memphis - but every entry just floored me. It was so good!
The contest was held right on the banks of the Arkansas River in North Little Rock.
If you like barbeque, I highly suggest checking out a KCBS contest near you. Or look into a certified barbeque judge class. It's a great way to spend a day!