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One of the joys of living is SC is that you usually don’t have to drive far to find good BBQ, but you still have to pay for the meal. And those meals aren’t always the pit master’s best effort, designed specifically to impress you.
What if there was a way to regularly eat the best BBQ made in our state and not have to pay for the meal? What if with every bite you took you knew the pit master took great pains and efforts to give you his very best product?
Sound too good to be true?
Well, there is, in fact, a way.
Just this past weekend, Heather and I took the first step in that direction. We joined other members of the SC BBQ Association at a Judge’s Seminar in Conway in our efforts to become certified SCBA judges.
The seminar was led by Lake High, president and co-founder of the SCBA. Lake commands the room and is both comfortable and witty in his role. He took us through two hours of content, weaving the technical details of scoring systems and Association objectives with personal stories and reflections. He lifts up the SCBA tacitly by pointing out the absurdities of other systems, making a few things clear along the way:
Don Adkins followed after a lunch break and shared stories about the SCBA and shared with us some of the technical details of using the website, signing up to judge SCBA events, the message board and more.
Garland Hudgins, owner of Carolina Outdoor Cooking, also addressed the class and spoke about judging from a cooker’s perspective and how all they really want is a fair contest. He threw in a few tips for the cookers in the audience. He also shared with us information about a BBQ class he teaches once or twice a year.
His next class will be February 7, 2015, from 8 am – 4:30 pm and while anyone is welcome, the focus is on competition BBQ. It is clear that Garland knows what he is talking about and we recommend his course if that is something you are looking into.
Now, I’d like to share with you the process of becoming an SCBA certified judge and show you the roadmap to a lifetime of great BBQ.
(Yes, each of those does, in fact, cost money, so I guess, on some level, you are paying to eat, but that is a mere technicality…)
Now, taking those two simple steps makes you a “novice” judge. With this new title, you are able to sit in on any SCBA competition in the state – and there are about 30 this year. But that doesn’t mean you get to influence the competition; you are here to learn.
At the competitions, novice judges sit with a Master Judge at their own table and learn how to judge. This is the point at which the real learning begins. Master judges lead each table, instructing novices on the everything from the simple how-to’s of filling out the SCBA judging sheet to the nuances of scoring each category on the judging sheet: Appearance, Aroma, Tenderness/Texture, Taste, and Overall Impression. We will report more on this process following each of our turns at the novice table.
After 4 times at the novice table (and assuming you show some proficiency in the role), you will then receive your apron and certificate as a Certified Judge of the SCBA. At this point, you can serve in future competitions as a “real” judge.
You can continue on from there to attain higher rankings as a judge in the SCBA.
1) Senior Judges – senior judges will have paid their dues and met the following standards:
2) Master Judges – master judges will have paid their dues and met the following standards:
So, unlike judges of other competitions, you can rest assured judges in the SCBA are well-educated in the details of the process, the importance of the cookers, and in the act of judging the BBQ itself. What you get as an SCBA judge is a real education in BBQ, particularly as you rise in the ranks.
The fact that you have to actually cook with a team to become a senior judge or with at least three teams to become a master judge really shows the value the SCBA places in learning the whole process.
So think about becoming an SCBA BBQ judge and get an opportunity to eat the best of the best SC BBQ made especially to impress you.
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