Competition 101: Team and Timing

Slabs a' Smokin St. Louis Team PhotoThe single most important thing you need to be successful in a BBQ Competition is an awesome team.  You’ve got to have people you trust, people to support you, people to do…well, a little bit of everything.  SLABS a’ Smokin has an amazing group of people who make up the team.  Beyond Tim and myself we have a huge group of talented and specialized individuals that are incredible at what they bring to the team.

And the most important thing your awesome team needs to be successful is the ability to juggle many balls and have perfect timing.  Competition quality bbq has to be just right.  A few degrees too high or low, a few minutes too long on the smoker…and you’re toast.  And there’s no way to nail it all by yourself.  That’s why these two pieces go hand in hand.

In every St. Louis competition there are at least 4 categories – and in the BBQ Bash there are EIGHT.  I have people that help me brine, marinate, baste, spray, rub, grill, garnish boxes and plates, wrap in foil, reset the fires, add wood, stay up all night and keep track of time.


Turn in times are in 30 minute intervals, so when it’s go time – it’s really GO time.  There are people scrambling and screaming and cutting and spraying and garnishing – and running the entry up to the judges with seconds to spare.

Slabs a' Smokin Team Memphis Team Picture

This is the same for KCBS events as well, where you turn in pulled pork, sliced brisket, sliced ribs and chicken thighs – all perfectly glazed and in garnished boxes – within an hour and a half.  That’s what I mean by every minute is critical.  Cook your pork 2 degrees too much and it’s dry.  Keep those chicken thighs on 5 minutes to long and they lose juice.  It’s a delicate balance.

This is where Competitive BBQ has become a sport.  It really is intense and controlled chaos for hours at a time.  After it’s done we all take a deep breath, high 5, sit down and grab a drink.  It’s exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time.  And THAT is why when my name gets called, I’m so ridiculously excited that I can’t help but scream in delight…as is reflected in every picture taken of me getting a ribbon or trophy.

St. Louis BBQ Bash Trophy

If you haven’t been to a competition – you should.  If you don’t know anyone on a team – well, now you do.  Find SLABS a’ Smokin and hang out with us for a while.  Come witness the exhausting fun of Competitive BBQ.

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