Judging in the NC BBQ Association

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A while back, I wrote about 5 reasons why you should consider joining the NC BBQ Association.  I’m happy to report that one of those reasons came to fruition a couple of weeks ago, as the association fully sanctioned its first event in Charlotte at the Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship.  Interestingly enough, there was another NCBBQA sanctioned contest in Washington, NC the same weekend.  But I’m going to focus on Charlotte because, well… I was there.  This post will be dedicated to a high-level explanation of the judging process for an NCBBQA-sanctioned event.

Pig on a spit.

A photo posted by Wayne Brown (@bigwaynerbbq) on

For those familiar with BBQ sanctioning bodies, NCBBQA judging can be considered a hybrid of MBN and KCBS judging.  NCBBQA competitions consist of three categories: whole hog, pork shoulder, and whole chicken.  Each category has a double-blind judging segment (where boxes are re-numbered so that judges cannot identify a team’s entry by number) and an onsite judging segment (where a team of 3 judges comes to a team’s site for a 5-10 minute presentation of the entry).

Each category has three criteria for both onsite and blind judging — taste, tenderness/texture, and overall impression.  The scoring goes from 1-10 on a quarter-point scale, with a score of 1 being reserved for a disqualification.  Entries are presented in half-pan aluminum containers with no garnish.  Sauces are optional but must be on the side if presented — entries may not be sauced after removing from the cooker.  If sauce is provided with the entry, the entry is tasted with and without the sauce.  The taste of the entry without the sauce goes toward the taste score, but the taste with the sauce can factor in to the overall impression score. It was a good thing I came to the contest hungry, because I was picked to judge all three categories.  I judged blind shoulder and whole hog entries, and I went onsite for whole chicken.  I was also a table captain (and sixth judge) for shoulder.  Overall, the entries I got to sample were very good!  I left the contest full and very satisfied. As far as how well the judges’ area was organized, I could not have been happier! The night before (during ancillary judging), we received our assignments for the main day, and the morning began with a recap of the judging responsibilities and information.  Each round of onsite entries went through a brief instructional section outlining what to do and what not to do.

For this being the first event sanctioned by NCBBQA, it went off quite smoothly! I can’t wait to judge my next NCBBQA event — which, by the way, is in Fayetteville NC on November 15th  at the When Pigs Fly All-American BBQ Festival.  It’s not too late to join NCBBQA and get in on the ground floor of this organization!

A huge thank you goes out to the NCBBQA and my good friend Steve Gibbs of Q4Fun for letting me use their pictures as part of this blog.

  • smokinronnie

    Great write Big Wayne!!! U DA MaN!!!

  • Great stuff, Wayne! I have been reading Steve’s write ups about this association. I love the concept.

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  • I was very curious to hear more about this so I’m glad that you posted this. Does every team do all three categories or do they pick one and only one?

    • It’s like an MBN contest (excluding Memphis in May, of course). Teams can do one, any, or all categories. And all it takes is having the highest score in a single category to win the whole thing.

      • Cool. I thought that might be the case but wasn’t sure since I’ve never been to an NCBBQA event yet. Sounds like a fun one.