2017 Long Beach BBQ Festival - 8/19/2017
After many hours of driving in typical Los Angeles traffic I arrived to the beautiful water-front setting of the 2017 Long Beach BBQ Festival. There were already hundreds of people inside the festival when I arrived. As I entered the festival grounds the amazing smell of smoke from the many bbq bits completely captured my full attention. I headed towards to judging tent where I was not too sure what to expect, being that this was not a KCBS sanctioned event. In fact, this was my first time ever judging a non-KCBS event.
Once inside the judging area I was directed to sit at a table where there were already numbered boxes sitting in front of me. I was not sure how long they had been sitting there, and became immediately concerned that all my food was going to be stone cold; NOT what you want as a judge.
We were advised that only 6 judges would be attending the event so that was also a bit of a surprise because with how big this event looked, I assumed that there would be more than only 6 teams competing. The rest of the judges arrived and we were handed judging sheets with instructions on scoring as well as the scoring sheets for each team. The numbering was a lot different from KCBS because it went from 2 points all the way to 40 points for appearance and tenderness, while taste went from 2 points up to 80 points. I don't know if this is standard for non-KCBS events, but it seems like this way even if teams get low scores in reality, their total points would still be pretty high generally speaking. To exemplify this, if a team did average, they might get 24 points for appearance. In KCBS, that's not even close to possible. To be clear, this competition was ribs only.
Once the judging began, we started with box number 1, passed it around the table to judge appearance. Then, on the 2nd pass around the table each judge took a rib, ate as little or much as they wanted, and then scored the rib. After we scored this first rib we didn't really talk too much to each other. The process repeated itself with each box. We did this 7 times, since there were 7 teams who turned in products to be judged. The whole time we had people recording us with video cameras, taking photos, etc. It was definitely a fun time! I will spill the beans and say that box 1 was a good solid rib and did well as far as scoring is concerned. The 2nd and 3rd ribs were not liked as a whole from our table of judges. Lastly, I will say that there was one rib that we were served that REALLY stood out. I have no idea who turned it in, as this was a blind judging competition, but wow, that was a really nice surprise to get that rib. Overall, it was a great experience to get more judging under my bbq belt. I will continue to judge at every single opportunity I get.