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Pacific Northwest BBQ Association

Want to competed in a PNWBA sanctioned event? Here's a brief run down on what is required in order to compete as well as suggestions.

Required

  1. Read the Rules! This is referred to by cooks, judges and head judges.  View the rules by clicking here.
  2. Designate a head cook,. If you have more than one person on your cook team. The rules do not allow people designated as head cooks to competed in the same event other than their designated team.
  3. Fire Extinguisher - We require, to meet or exceed most fire department safety requirements, an approved 2A40BC or 3A40BC (or larger) fire extinguisher. Be sure not to purchase or bring an extinguisher that is too small or you will be required to obtain one prior to being allowed to compete.
    1. Extinguisher, if purchased within 1 year of the event, must have a copy of the receipt attached to the extinguisher or be provided upon request during the inspection at the event site by the head judges or
    2. Extinguisher must have a service tag attached showing certification that is less than 12 months old. 
    3. Needle on the fire extinguisher must be in the green area.
  4. Hand Washing Station - We require, to meet or exceed most health department safety requirements, that each team have their own hand wash station with free-flowing warm water, soap a catch basin and paper towels in their cook area.  
    1. The warm water dispenser can be as simple as a 5 gallon beverage dispenser that has a lever style spigot (push button style does not allow for free flowing).
    2. Catch basin can be as simple as a 5 gallon bucket.
    3. Trash can for paper towels recommended.
  5. Dish Wash Station - Used to help clean, was and sanitize cooking utensils and items that food will be in contact. 3 basin, dish soap and bottle of bleach Basins can be as simple as bus totes obtained at a food warehouse
  6. Bleach Bucket and cloth rag - Used to keep food prep areas sanitized.   A simple small bucket or a small bucket available at food warehouses marked as bleach are fine. Be sure to have a clean cloth rag and bottle of bleach (can be same bottle used for dish washing station).
  7. Digital meat thermometer - A thermapen or similar digital thermometer to check food temperature is required. The head judge will ask, during inspection, that you turn the thermometer on to verify it works
  8. Competition meats - Be sure to make sure the meats that are brought are allowed for use in the competition. For example, a pork chop can not be used for the pork category or a beef rib can not be used for pork rib category. 
    1. Meats may NOT be pre-cooked, pre-injected, brined, cured or seasoned before the meat inspection.
    2. Meats may be pre-trimmed.
    3. Meats must be held at 40 degrees or colder for food safety and may be measured during meat inspection.
    4. Coolers containing meats should be filled with ice to maintain safe meat temperature.
    5. All coolers will be subject to inspection by head judge.
  9. Special Category Food - If there are additional contest categories, inspection for food and items for the special categories will be made to make sure it meets within the criteria of the event.
  10. Cooker - The cooker(s) used to cook your meat categories must use a head source from charcoal, wood and/or wood pellets. Gas or electric stoves are only allowed for heating water and/or sauces. Electric accessories, such as spits, augers or forced draft are allowed.  Have adequate ground protection barrier under cookers to keep grease, ash and similar off the grounds at the event venue.

Plan Appropriately

When it's your first cook, you may be tempted to only cook one or two of the meat categories. Since you're there, plan on cooking all the meat categories, even if you do not think you may have a strong finish in one or more of the categories.  This can be critical in events that have reached enough teams to become a qualifier for two of the most prestigious BBQ events in the US - "The Jack Daniels Invitational" and the "American Royal" . In order to remain a qualifier, a minimum number of entries for all 4 meat categories must be turned in on time.  So if they are at the exact minimum, your lack of turn-in for a category would cause the event to no longer be a qualifier that would affect all teams who competed in the event.

Make sure you have all the required items checked, double-checked, packed, then triple checked before heading to the event.

When at the Event

While you may be competing against other teams, you'll find that there is a great camaraderie among the cooks. We all want everyone to do well and to walk up to the podium to get recognition for doing well during the event.

To help in your success, try to find a neighboring cook who can answer questions you might have. Be polite and aware that they may a prep process or materials that they prefer others to not see as well as they may be busy at that time. 

There will be a meeting between the head judges and teams after the team inspections. Be sure to find out where and when. Plan to stay after the meeting to go over rules with the head judges and get questions answered. At the meeting, the head judges will go over the event, turn in times and location, locations for garbage, ash and grey water and such.  At the conclusion of the meeting, the head judges will hand out boxes used for turn-ins and bar codes that are used to identify the boxes turned in as being from your team.

As it's your first event, pay close attention to the times that each meat category must be turned in. Be sure to turn in the CORRECT meat for the turn in window. Nothing hurts more than accidentally turning in Ribs when it should have been Chicken (It's happened to the experienced cooks too).  We suggest timing how long it takes to walk from your cook site to the turn-in table, allowing for the fact that the public may be walking around, becoming unintentional obstacles. 

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