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Daveg – Certified Barbecue Judge

After shipping the bike from the Seattle area port of Tacoma, I’ve returned to visit my family in Missouri.  I’m going to do a post about shipping the bike and what not to do once I get everything ironed out.  It’s been a huge PITA, maybe someone can learn from it.

My brother Aubrey, his brother in law (another BBL) Andy, and I took a 5 hour class to become a Certified Barbecue Judge at the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS).  The KCBS consists of over 13,000 members worldwide and sanctions over 300 barbecue events all over the USA.  We took the class on Thursday and were judging BBQ by Sunday at the American Royal.  The first half of the class was theoretical describing the rules and some of the more technical aspects of bbq judging.  The second half was the practical component and most fun — the sampling.  We were trained in all the different disciplines of barbecue at KCBS sanctioned events: Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork, and Brisket.  There can be other meats participating in the judging like sausage or desserts, but the previously mentioned 4 are typically present in a contest.

Some of the interesting aspects of the theoretical part of the class were mostly related to how to check for proper “doneness” such as not taking off for pink chicken because the coloration can be a result of the smoking.  Another interesting characteristic contrary to home or commercial smoking is that a properly competition smoked rib should not “fall off the bone”, but when taking a single bite in the middle of the rib, the meat should cleave cleanly by your teeth exposing a moist bone that dries rapidly.

My notes on the proper KCBS bite of Pork rib

The qualities judged are for “Appearance, Taste, and Texture”.  This is done for each category.

One of the most important things that we learned was that each meat sample stands on its own meaning that you are obliged to not rank your plate relative to the others present or your grandma’s recipe.  Therefor it is theoretically possible for multiple samples or entries to have a perfect score on a single plate.

The practical consisted of participating in a judging table and one box from each category to judged.  After the scores were written down, we then discussed our ratings as a class.  We were eventually told that the entire classes’ meat came from Oklahoma Joes in Kansas City.

Just before the conclusion of the class, we were asked to participate in the Judge’s Oath of the KCBS:

I do solemnly swear to objectively and subjectively evaluate each Barbeque meat that is presented to my eyes, my nose, my hands and my palate. I accept my duty to be an Official KCBS Certified Judge, so that truth, justice, excellence in Barbeque and the American Way of Life may be strengthened and preserved forever.

It was one of my most proud moments.

A couple of days following the class, Aubrey and I judged at the American Royal — one of the largest BBQ competitions in the world with over 500 entries with a payout of $12,500 to the grand champion.  This was one of the most exciting and tastyist culinary experiences I’ve had in my life.  It was overwhelming how good the average entry tasted– better than anything I’ve ever had at a friend’s house or a restaurant.  This is not surprising considering that each BBQ team paid somewhere between $300 and $2,500 to cook you a single piece of chicken, a rib, a small pile of pulled pork, and a single slice of brisket… oh yeah, and a chance of major bragging rights and cash.  BBQ judging makes even the best restaurants seem pedestrian.

Below are the pictures form the judging and competition field.

My brother Aubrey sporting his KCBS Certified Judging Polo

I'm at the end of the table ready to get started with judging card in front

The entire hall is filled with BBQ judges. There is more passion for food and BBQ here than in anywhere else in the world at this moment

Bottled water and saltines are the only foreign food allowed to clense your pallet

A judges card set up with brisket. A few of the entries have burnt ends on top of the brisket. I take my job very seriously.

The remains of a round of judging. If you were to clear every entry, you'd be full way too fast

Sausage ready to go

One of the contestant's camps

One happy KCBS CBJ

This was a truly spectacular experience.. one that I hope to repeat.  Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any KCBS events in Mongolia.


  1. Dad says:

    I’m so proud of my children’s achievements! What’s next?

  2. daveg says:


  3. smeg says:

    next post needs an audio clip with throat singing

  4. Erdem says:

    “Bone should dry quickly!” That’s hillarious. It does make sense, but still…
    Looking forward to Asia. I’m enjoying this a lot. Thanks for keeping it up.

  5. tony says:

    You must have that talent to educate your taste buds so quickly. Thought I knew a lot about barbecuing. Learned something again! thanks,

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