Saturday, September 22, 2012

Art of BBQ

(Tulsa) - Here is an example of how not  to run a BBQ competition -- at least from the perspective of a judge who will not go through that again.

It all starts with the application process -- two parter -- the email and then the actual "application". All of this is done but with very little initial acknowledgement. There is the waiting -- Mr. Petty told us it's the hardest part and in most cases he's right. In the case of this contest it lasts from the initial contact all the way until two weeks before the date of judging. That's when the confirmation email comes -- or doesn't.

We all know and have all implicitly agreed that organizers may organize as they see fit. It's just the lay of the land and if they choose to do it badly then we, as judges, have two choices. We can either just grin and bear it or we can decide not to attend that particular event in the future. And if enough judges are of a like mind then they will either have a high non-CBJ percentage (and ultimately fail) or they will change the way they do business. This is another unwritten yet implicit agreement in the organizer-judge relationship. We cannot complain about it -- but we can blog about it.

It was the same last year with this one even though we didn't realize it until it was almost upon us. The confirmation came last year as well with two weeks to go. Evidently they want experience in judges. They take all applications until it is upon them and then pick the most experienced judges from the lot. And it worked -- there were a lot of masters in the room and it seemed as if very few had under 15 contests. Don't think there were any under 10.

The judging venue
Last year it was at ONEOK Field but apparently the custodians of that facility didn't want the event back. It was moved to a bar in the Blue Dome District -- which apparently decided it the last minute that it didn't want to be involved either. It was moved across the street into a vacant building at 1st and Elgin across from McNellie's. Cool building. The fellow said it was for sale but he didn't say how much. It's probably a lot.

Judges parking was set aside -- it said so right in the emailed info packet. Didn't say anything about how that cat was going to charge us 5 dollars. Yeah, it's just 5 dollars. But after spending $75 in gas for the round trip it seems like free parking is a reasonable expectation. Doesn't it? 

They guy who charged us to park is in that truck
Karen and Ralph are always game and willing to roll with the punches. Today would be no different and they did an outstanding job. We're told there is some turnover with regards to reps at this contest and it doesn't surprise us. It'll be interesting to see how long even-tempered and affable folks like the Williamses stick with Art of BBQ.

The food -- it was mostly pretty good. Above average even. Tulsa is not a difficult place to get to and so it draws cooks many of whom are already living nearby.

Ultimately it was a positive experience because of the fellow judges and the good food and the cool reps. Not gonna do it again though. They can have their Art of BBQ. We're gonna find a different place to judge that weekend.


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