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Old School Pitmasters - How The BBQ Inustry Has Changed
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98 Red Kettle
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 12:08 am    Post subject: Old School Pitmasters - How The BBQ Inustry Has Changed Reply with quote

Link from Thrillist
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was an interesting read, from a number of great names!
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good read. Now for some reason I'm craving whole hog Laughing
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good read
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great article
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BigOrson
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find it humorous that to a man, the old guard regards the current trend in competition to be candy-coated ribs instead of real BBQ as an aberration.

I've not competed, so I cannot speak with authority on the subject, but on the face of it I tend to agree with them.

I tried the Johnny Trigg method of the rub, honey, brown sugar, squeeze margarine and Tiger sauce that everyone on the competition circuit seems to be wanting to replicate. I know he's won tons of competitions with his formula, and I don't begrudge him his success. We should all be so lucky to come up with such a winning formula.

However, it just isn't the kind of product I want to serve to my guests or family. My ideal for wet rubs is a simple salt and pepper seasoning, cook them to the proper doneness, and coat them with a sweet and spicy glaze with a good bit of vinegar on the back. If I'm serving dry ribs, I'll be a bit more bold with the seasonings because I know it won't clash with the sauce, even if it is served on the side. If I am entertaining, I usually do both styles to satisfy both tastes.

I'm sorry to have to say so, and I don't want to offend anybody by saying so, but the trend towards the Trigg style of ribs just doesn't measure up to what I think of as BBQ, no matter how many awards he has won with it. If that is the ideal the judges are looking for, I guess I'd just rather be a backyard cooker and not compete. I have every respect for Mr. Trigg and his accomplishments, but in my humble opinion, I could rub, sweeten and cook bacon and produce a better product in a shorter time.

I've been experimenting with BBQ for damn near 35 years (as much as it pains me to say its been that long). I've had more than my share of failures and fewer than my share of successes. I've tried every trendy idea with ribs, brisket, chicken and pork shoulder, but my final judgement is that you understand the meat you are cooking, you understand how to use salt and pepper, and--above all--you understand how your pit works to produce a quality product.

If you grasp those concepts, it doesn't matter how you spice, inject, marinate, or sauce your product. The sauce isn't the boss, the pitmaster is. Sauce can either augment the artisanship of the pitmaster or it can cover up the incompetence of the impostor.

IMNSHO, the only magic in creating great BBQ is a full and complete understanding of how your pit works, where the hot spots are and how to utilize them properly and to be able to not only judge what is quality meat, but also when it is properly done.

I guess in my middle (which is likely to substitute for my old) age, I've just decided that the basics are good enough for me. It isn't even a matter of low and slow. Collagen melts at 375 degrees just as easily as it does at 275. It just doesn't take as long.

I've eaten the hot and fast and I've had the low and slow. If each has been done properly with the right meat for the cooking method (hot and fast needs more fat to keep from drying out), you really can't tell the difference side-by-side.

The difference is the pitmaster and his knowledge of what the pit can and can't do. It isn't alchemy, IMO, it is experience and observation. Takes a lifetime to understand those variables across multiple pits and that is ultimately what you are paying for when you place your order. It's an outrageous thing to say, but it it is true for me and for many others...I'm a fire-bug that learned to channel that fascination into something useful. Yeah, I could have ended up as an arsonist with the wrong guidance, but I turned my understanding of how fire works with meat into a great hobby. Probably the most useful of any of the hobbies I've cultivated ever since.

I know that is heresy to the foodies that want to get back to the grass roots of traditional American BBQ, but they are just going to have to f'ing get over their pretentions. BBQ has been around for 400 years. They've been around maybe for a decade. They can't fit their head far enough up their a$$es to realize the difference. That's how so many mediocre places get such higher ratings on Yelp, et. al that the real deal traditional joints we all seek out.

I hate to make this quote, but it seems appropriate:

"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."
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BUGSnBBQ
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BigO - Ya got a point there (actually several Laughing ). I tried the Trigg method and thought it was horrible. 'Cotton Candy Ribs' was an accurate description of them in the article. It boggles my mind the things these 'Judges' want to taste in these BBQ comps. All this manipulating the meat with weird flavors and techniques seems counter-intuitive to me. I honestly don't think I would enjoy anything they cook at a comp, except for maybe whole hog. But they way it's trending they're probably F-ing that up too, by now. Sure, I like to experiment, but in the end I want to taste the MEAT (or whatever the main ingredient is). That's why my favorite style of (non BBQ) cooking is Italian-ish. Use a few FRESH, HIGH QUALITY ingredients and keep it simple.

Also I hear a lot of people complaining about how XYZ Restaurant's brisket or ribs weren't PERFECT on my visit and I'll NEVER be back because 'Mine is MUCH better'. Social media is the biggest culprit. Everyone wants everything absolutely perfect every time and 99% of the nitwits on FB and Yelp really don't have a clue what good BBQ is. They want to be trendy and hip and follow the current pack like mindless sheep. For example - I've seen reviews from the internet 'experts' about how bad Skylight Inn BBQ is. "It sucked. Horrible. All chopped up." etc. I've eaten there and thought it was damn good! Could I make better? Maybe, on a good day. But ya know what? I didn't have to buy the meat, prep the cooker, cook the meat, serve it, clean up, etc, etc.

I'm a firm believer in the KISS method - Keep It Simple Stupid.

OK, I'm done writing my own novel Laughing
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k.a.m.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First let me say that Debbie and I do not cook at home like we do at comps unless we are practicing.
The Trigg method and flavor profile is just one of many ways to cook ribs. If Trigg himself had not divulged what he does to his ribs in competitions no one would know about it and it would not be so popular.
Here where Debbie and I cook the dominant force in the competition world is the IBCA. They do not use certified judges that have gone to school to learn what to look for. The judges are drawn from the public, we do not pretty up our boxes it is meat and foil, no sauce added after the meat hits the box.
The only real criteria the judges are told is aroma, texture, flavor.
They cannot touch the food with their hands, they use cheap plastic knives and forks so your food better be tender enough for that.
They get one bite so what you turn in needs to be appealing to the judges. Keep in mind some of the turn ins will be so spicy that the judges palate is ruined for the rest of the meat they have to taste.
I have never sat down to watch BBQ Pit Masters, in my opinion it is a joke because it is reality tv made for public consumption. In my opinion the show does not represent the BBQ competition world very well because if they played out a competition like it actually goes down their ratings would die a slow death.
For the record: The Trigg method does not fare well in my area.
If you turn in regular back yard BBQ at a comp your chances of a payday are next to none.
We compete to have fun but also need the paydays to continue our hobby, so yes we are pumping chickens and briskets with injections to help retain moisture while they wait to be judged.
There is a trend now with a sweeter cinnamon flavor which I hate and refuse to use. Debbie and I use our own rub for chicken and ribs, brisket gets another rub because ours has sugar in it. We do well with what we have but do have to tweak to stay in the game.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21 14 3:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

k.a.m. wrote:

If you turn in regular back yard BBQ at a comp your chances of a payday are next to none...but do have to tweak to stay in the game.

That's kinda my point. These comps have gotten so trendy with the flavors they want to see, that it seems you get punished for going outside of their norm. Just my opinion, as I've never entered a sanctioned comp. I also don't watch BBQ Pitmasters anymore. The first season was kinda neat, but it went straight downhill from there. It's an unwatchable 'reality' (more like total BS) show, to me.

Case in point - There's a BBQ joint in Atlanta called Fatt Matt's that 'True BBQ aficionados' think is absolute crap. I like the place. It's fun and lively with a small stage where local musicians come and play blues music (even at lunchtime). Sure the ribs are falling off the bone, sauced, and cooked in an electric smoker (and then thrown on the grill for some char), but the vibe of the place is fantastic. It's always packed, so they must be doing something right after 25-30 years. Is it better than Fox Bros, Community Q, or Dave Poe's (local places that the 'experts' say is the best BBQ in ATL)? Overall - Yes, IMO.

OK, I'm done rambling now Laughing Laughing
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21 14 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Twisted Evil And who decided that fall off the bone chicken or ribs is over cooked?
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k.a.m.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21 14 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BUGSnBBQ wrote:
That's kinda my point. These comps have gotten so trendy with the flavors they want to see, that it seems you get punished for going outside of their norm.

Here is where you are getting off track Bugs.
In IBCA there is no set criteria for flavors. All the judges have different tastes. My ribs may score high in one comp and two weeks later 20 miles down the road score low.
The judges are ordinary folks off the street, most of these folks that judge like the three flavors at Chili's or bourbon glazed from outback, they have no idea what good back yard BBQ is because they are conditioned to what the restaurants serve.
Our rub is pretty close to Big Ron's if I had to pick one to compare to.
Our rib and chicken glaze that we make compliments the rub, most folks that eat it love it and we do use it at home for guests and party's.
When I said back yard BBQ I was referring to what we do to the meat as far as injections and brines for preserving the moisture and flavor.
You have to be able to cook good cold BBQ and retain moisture for at least 2 hours sitting in a Styrofoam box if you make final table.
This past weekend Debbie and I competed here are some pics of the turn ins.

Second place chicken.


First place ribs.


First place brisket.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21 14 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smokin Mike wrote:
Twisted Evil And who decided that fall off the bone chicken or ribs is over cooked?


I did... Must have missed you when I sent out the memo. Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21 14 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

k.a.m - I wasn't trying to start any chit, just voicing my opinions (and you know what they say about opinions and a-holes Laughing ). See -Your food looks fantastic, like something I would want to eat. It's not all coddled in lettuce, spices, sauces, and god-knows-what-else. I hear what you're saying about how it will sit for awhile and needs to stay presentable. I wasn't knocking you or anybody else that competes, just venting about how competition BBQ doesn't really reflect real world, backyard cooking, IMO. Maybe I'm wrong (happened once Laughing ), but isn't that the premise of these comps? Something any ordinary Joe can cook in his backyard? Judges get one or two bites and that's their take on it. When I eat ribs I'll eat a half a rack (or more) and if they're so intense with flavor I won't eat but a few bites and that's my problem with competition BBQ. On the other hand, I see that need. Can a judge eat 40 racks of ribs if he eats more than a bite or two? Probably not Laughing Again - JMHO and I'm not starting any chit (UNLESS YOU WANT SOME, BIG BOY!
Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing )
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21 14 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smokin Mike wrote:
Twisted Evil And who decided that fall off the bone chicken or ribs is over cooked?

I say cook 'em like you like 'em. The rule in my house is - 'I cooked it. If ya don't like it, there's a McDonald's down the road' Laughing
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21 14 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OKBBQEA wrote:
Smokin Mike wrote:
Twisted Evil And who decided that fall off the bone chicken or ribs is over cooked?


I did... Must have missed you when I sent out the memo. Wink


Doesn't matter.. I would've chucked the memo in file #13. Laughing I'm kinda anti-establishment in case nobody has noticed.

BUGSnBBQ wrote:
I say cook 'em like you like 'em. The rule in my house is - 'I cooked it. If ya don't like it, there's a McDonald's down the road' Laughing


Now that's exactly how I feel Bugs. Whatever floats your boat whether it be fall off the bone or so tight you need a pair of vice grips to get it to pull. Cool
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21 14 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BUGSnBBQ wrote:
k.a.m - I wasn't trying to start any chit, just voicing my opinions (and you know what they say about opinions and a-holes Laughing ). See -Your food looks fantastic, like something I would want to eat. It's not all coddled in lettuce, spices, sauces, and god-knows-what-else. I hear what you're saying about how it will sit for awhile and needs to stay presentable. I wasn't knocking you or anybody else that competes, just venting about how competition BBQ doesn't really reflect real world, backyard cooking, IMO. Maybe I'm wrong (happened once Laughing ), but isn't that the premise of these comps? Something any ordinary Joe can cook in his backyard? Judges get one or two bites and that's their take on it. When I eat ribs I'll eat a half a rack (or more) and if they're so intense with flavor I won't eat but a few bites and that's my problem with competition BBQ. On the other hand, I see that need. Can a judge eat 40 racks of ribs if he eats more than a bite or two? Probably not Laughing Again - JMHO and I'm not starting any chit (UNLESS YOU WANT SOME, BIG BOY!
Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing )

No, I don't need any chit Bugs. Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21 14 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sadly, as a mobile restaurant [ vendor/food truck] I find myself needing to cook to please the local masses [ to a POINT ] Just last weekend, I was at a wine tasting /food truck festival [ quite the mix, eh?? Embarassed ] where this lady ordered ribs...then grabbed a fork and went to eat at our fine dining area [ read plastic tables and chairs ] I was QUITE proud of the comp style ribs I was sending out the window, when she returned with ribs in hand, saying "look at how pink they are, are these raw?? And I have to bite at them to eat them...it comes off the bones but isnt falling off"... Embarassed Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil I assured her they were done after 5 hrs on the pit and she walked off...I dug down into the pan for some of the earlier batch which were deemed to be tossed but do keep the "good" ones off the metal pan- getting all shriveled up etc. put on a plate and delivered to her drown in sauce...she LOVED them...to which I quietly murmured as I walked away " thats sauced pulled pork lady, watch for bones"....
Also, I do a LOT of pulled / chopped Brisket as thats what people want...Maybe its because their used to tough chitty brisket in these parts?? But there too, I was slicing Brisket which most ended up going to the chopped/pulled pan as thats what the people wanted [ other than those who know real BBQ, but again - this was a lot of high falutin' fancy people used to overpriced meat medallions and lawn clippings for $50-$100/plate....."sipping" gallons of wine [[my a$$]] Wink ]
Yes, the BBQ craze has hit the high end joints where they use a couple hundred dollar "smoke infuser" to a piece of crock pot pork under saran wrap etc. and where a griddle on a gas stove " gives the meat that deep smokie flavor"...to quote all those food network stars.... Crying or Very sad
To pay the mortgage, sometimes one MUST give the people what they want....I aint missed a mortgage payment in the 5 years I've been doing this full time[ or any prior payment!! ]
"The customer is always right" ...[usually....sometimes..or at least once in a while....if you want to survive in ANY business ]
I slice my brisket for myself and staff, no sauce required, same with my pork n chicken...Sauce in an accouterment' [ fancy wine drinker talk there..lol ]- I make 9 to please about every corner of the continent....None of them suck IMHO, but arent required either!!!!
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22 14 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr Tony's BBQ wrote:
overpriced meat medallions and lawn clippings for $50-$100/plate....."sipping" gallons of wine

ROTFLMAO Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing

Thanks, I needed my giggle for the day!
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22 14 1:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smokin Mike wrote:
Twisted Evil And who decided that fall off the bone chicken or ribs is over cooked?


Those people trying to show you that you could still have a great product, cooked long enough to be fully cooked, and not so cooked that it could have been cooked yesterday and reheated today.

Then you have those that advertise "fall off the bone ribs" on TV and radio adds, and Joe Public is not really educated, they are happy to eat Uncle Mikes ribs, cooked on his Weber Kettle, with matchlight charcoal and a quart of charcoal starter fluid, where the meat went on before the starter fluid burned off, and you get that great gasoline flavor, even over the Emeril's rub!

If you want to serve ribs that are cooked to the point of being pulled pork with bones in, then go for it! But it is a horses for courses situation when cooking for competitions, you can cook one of two ways, 1) the way you always cook, or 2) the way the judges give you the best scores... it's always your choice!

There are a lot of competition cooks who don't like what they turn it for the judges, and wouldn't cook that way for family and friends, (k.a.m. and Johnny Trigg are two of many examples, Johnny won't eat his own competition ribs), you can keep cooking the way you cook as per 1), and competitions will cost you money, time etc. and the returns will be personal satisfaction about the way you cooked. OR you can cook for the judges and take home some trophies, some money and the satisfaction about the way you cooked.

Unless you are lucky in that your personal 1) is the same as 2), you are going to change your cooking, if you want to try and offset some of the costs of competing.

Locally I try and keep competition costs down to $600 - $750 per competition, competitions more than 100 miles away can push costs quickly towards $1,000 a competition.

Locally there are 8 competitions within the 100 miles and there were 8 that I couldn't go to, (that were 350 - 450 miles away), to drag all your kit those distances and not make money, just seems silly to me!

JM2C

If you are cooking for yourself, please the crowd you are feeding!

If you are cooking for the public, please the crowd you are feeding!

If you are cooking for competition judges, (however well trained or not), please the crowd you are feeding!

All looks very similar if you ask me... please the crowd you are feeding! Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22 14 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't know how to say that as eloquently as you did SoEzzy but you made my point. I keep hearing this theme over and over about how competition chefs wouldn't serve to the general public what they serve to judges. Somebody somewhere deemed that ribs shall have some tug and a clean bite. I suppose if that's what you got to do to win the contest then that's what you got to do. But in my non-competitive cooking life all I can say is my guests and I love our ribs and chicken cooked a little beyond the tug stage.... and I'm not talking about meat mush. I just get a little agitated when a cooking preference doesn't get the nod of approval because that's not the way it's done in a comp. That was my point.
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