The Secret Life of a
A few weeks ago I was privileged to be trained by Adam from the Australasian BBQ Alliance in how to be a BBQ Judge. And last week you know that I attended the Brisbane ‘Low & Slow’ BBQ Festival, but what I didn’t tell you was that I was actually a judge. It was my first time and it was a great insight into The Secret Life of a BBQ Judge!
Firstly, the competition was sanctioned by the Australasian BBQ Alliance which means that it was run according to their rules and regulations. From my background as a teacher/trainer and having administered an untold number of assessments, I was really impressed with how well this test of Queensland’s best BBQ’ers was run.
Firstly, judges are given a certain time at which they are to arrive at the venue. This is to make sure that they get there early enough to be briefed by the Officials at the competition. There is a special ‘Judge’s Room’ or sometimes a Judge’s Tent where the judges wait. This is kept separate to the hand-in area so that the judge’s can’t see the competitors and what they’re handing in. These are handed to an Official in identical white Styrofoam-style containers. The Official checks the box, closes it up, writes a number on the top with a marker and records the number secretly. The only people who ever know which numbers correlate to which teams are the Officials.
The meats will then start arriving at designated times: the meats are decided upon by the promoter when they are planning the event. An Official brings the boxes into the Judge’s Room and hands them to the Table Monitor, a judge selected to present the boxes of BBQ to their table. On the table itself, there are several things. Firstly, there is a paper place-mat, divided into six sections. In the top corner of each section is a smaller box. Each judge has their own place-mat and also their own score card. They are given one score card per meat and on it they write their name and Judge’s Number as wall as a score between 1 and 10 for each competitor’s meat for Presentation, Taste and Texture. There are also paper towels and water bottles. The paper towel is really important to make sure that the judge’s don’t lick their fingers and therefore keeping everybody’s cooties to themselves. I got in trouble for this three times.
The Table Monitor stands at the head of the table and reads out the number off the top of the box. The judges write this number in the top corner of the appropriate box on the place-mat and on the scorecard. When everyone is ready, the Table Monitor opens the box, presenting the meat for all judge’s to see at the same time. The judge’s write down their presentation scores and then the Table Monitor takes the box around the table so the judges can each take a portion. The Table Monitor then sits, takes a portion for themselves and fills in their scorecards while an Official takes away the box. This is repeated until the scorecards have been filled. The scorecards are then handed to an Official to be recorded.
There is a good break between hand-ins to make sure that the competitors all have a good amount of time to prepare their next box. During this time the judges are allowed to mingle. However, it’s not a good idea for them to use this time to go photograph the competitors at work for their blogs… I got in trouble for this too…
And so the pattern is repeated until all the different cuts of meat have been handed in, tasted and scored. At this point the judges are dismissed and it’s over to the Officials to compile all the scores and work out the winners and places.
The judges are then free to wander around photographing the teams, the vendors and the sponsors. Though it turns out you should really ask the vendors and sponsors first before you start photographing their wares… Guess who got in trouble for that one???
Make sure you come on down to the Burleigh BBQ Competition this weekend for some more shenanigans and some world class ‘Q!