One of the highlights of my Memphis in May trip was meeting fellow blogger Robyn Medlin Lindars and her dad. While there, Eddie and I talked about cooking together later in the year. In November, I finally had the chance to cook with Eddie as a member of North-South Smokers in Conway, SC at the 2012 St. Nicholas Winterfest.
The St. Nicholas Winterfest BBQ contest is sanctioned by the South Carolina Barbeque Association (SCBA). There are several differences in SCBA contests and KCBS contests (which I primarily judge). Some of the differences are below. If I missed one, someone let me know!
- KCBS contests have the four main categories that count towards Team of the Year standings – chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket. They can also have other ancillary categories that vary from contest to contest. In SCBA contests, only pork entry scores count towards Team of the Year standings. Most SCBA contests will also have a pork rib and “anything but” ancillary category.
- In a KCBS contest, the meats turned in for judging are generally brought in by the teams. In an SCBA contest, the meat is provided by the contest.
- Each category in a KCBS contest is judged on a scale of 1-9 (whole numbers only) on three criteria: appearance, taste, and tenderness. Categories in an SCBA contest are judged on the following criteria: appearance (3 points), aroma (2 points), texture/tenderness (5 points), taste (5 points), and overall impression (2 points). Also, SCBA judging scores can contain partial points.
- The final score in a KCBS contest is a weighted sum of each of the categories for each of the meats, while SCBA judging is the sum of the average over each of the categories.
- In KCBS contests (not including Challenge series), acceptable fuel sources include wood, charcoal, and pellets. In SCBA contests, gas is also an acceptable fuel source.
- In SCBA contests, pork can be parted once on the cooker, whereas this is not allowed in KCBS contests.
Even though the rules were a bit different, the objective is still the same: cook the best BBQ that you can! I was a little nervous at first, but thanks to Eddie, I was quickly introduced to the team and immediately felt at ease!
The cook seemed to have gone well throughout the night (with few major issues). The turn-in process went very smooth for us, and we were all very proud of the product that we turned in.
The judges were not quite as kind though – while we were in the middle of the pack in appearance (tied for 8th), taste (9th), and overall impression (9th), they did not like the aroma (14th) and texture/tenderness (13th). As a result, North-South Smokers came in 12th out of 17 teams. However, the separation between 1st place and 12th place was less than one point, which is an absolutely insane margin!
One interesting thing about most SCBA contests is that they are primarily used for fundraisers for charity. The public purchases tickets that will allow each ticket holder to sample meat from each of the teams. One of the things I enjoy is interacting with the public serving up BBQ and educating them on the differences in competition BBQ versus more traditional BBQ. While we weren’t picked for the People’s Choice portion of the contest, I still had a great time!
In wrapping up, I want to send out a big thank you to two people. First off, a huge thank you to Eddie Medlin for inviting me to come cook with him. I had a great time! And finally, a thank you goes out to Chad Warner of Yes, Dear BBQ for helping me with some clarification on the differences between KCBS and SCBA contests.