An Inside look at a KCBS Competition
Since 1982 competition smokers have gathered to compete for the title of Grand Champion of the Great Lenexa BBQ Battle. Over the past 40 years it has grown from the twelve to 168 competitors in this year’s Battle. Also known as the Kansas State Championship of barbecue, this competition is a Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned event. For those interested in what it might be like to compete in such a competition, what follows is a look behind the scenes.
A little background on the Kansas City Barbeque Society, or KCBS. If you are looking to get started in competition smoking, chances are good that there is a KCBS sanctioned event going on in your state or maybe even your country. Check out Marco Agostini’s post about competing in a KCBS event in Italy! It’s by no way the gold standard, as different regions have their own interests, styles and most notably meat categories. However, it is worth mentioning that fairness and equality amongst contestants is of primary importance to KCBS. It’s even in their creed: “Rules are designed to be fair and equal to all cookers. Integrity of the Contestants, Judges, KCBS Contest Representatives, and Organizers is essential.” Some reassurance that a KCBS sanctioned event will be run with a high level of professionalism.
Double Blind Boxes
All contestants are given identical boxes for submission, marked only with an identification number. This double blind process ensures that competitors do not know who is judging their submission, and judges do not know who prepared the meat they are tasting. The boxes submitted for each category must have at least six portions of meat, one for each of the six judges tasked with evaluating the entry. Judges give a number score between 2-9 on the three areas of Appearance, Tenderness/Texture and Taste. An entry’s overall score is the sum of the six judges’ scores for these three areas. Jason and Megan Day of Burnt Finger generously let us observe their boxing of their entries.
The boxes have a specific set of rules for KCBS contestants to follow as well. No food sculpting, or use of toothpicks, skewers, foil. All are forbidden and grounds for instant disqualification. In fact no foreign material other than approved garnish, not even a small sauce container, or excessive amount of sauce for that matter. Just the entry meat and a modest garnish. This keeps the entries somewhat neutral in appearance and free from any potential identifiers. All in the interest of keeping the contestants anonymous and the judging blind.
Ribbons, trophies and prize monies are awarded to the individual categories and the contestant with the highest score of the four KCBS meat categories wins the title of Grand Champion…and in the case of the Lenexa Battle, the Kansas State Champion. A big congratulations to Burnt Finger for their first place win in Beef Brisket. Way to go guys! Click here for a complete list of scoring results.