I had an email this week asking me to touch on a sore subject for most every BBQ cook. What happens when you put in all the hard work, time, and money… and you still don’t get your name called at the end of the day?
Should you get mad? Should you think about changing the way you’re cooking? Should you just quit cooking all together?
These are a just a FEW of the things that have gone through my mind over my cooking career.
But if there is one thing I’ve learned talking to BBQ veterans, it’s that it happens to everybody.
I’ve learned to take the bad with the good. Just a couple of weeks ago my team cooked in a contest where we pretty much tanked in one category, and it cost us a shot at making the top ten overall. We weren’t dead last in that category, but we were pretty damn close. We knew it happened before we even turned the blind box in. But hey, sometimes it’s just not your day.
In those situations, I like to remember what one of my BBQ mentors always says, “It is what it is”. You can’t win them all, but you can learn something every time you cook – even if it’s in your own backyard.
When the clock is ticking and everything is moving fast, you might miss some of the little things. And appearance IS important. The points you lose there could cost you a spot in the money. Pictures of your blind box allow you to go back after the dust has settled and analyze the details. It also allows you to remember exactly what that perfect blind box looked like. If you start taking pictures, I promise you will be surprised by how much your blind boxes differ from contest to contest.
Even if you are just cooking at home, I suggest taking pictures to ANYONE looking to improve their BBQ. Grab your phone and snap a few pictures. At the very least, you have something to brag about on Facebook.
Get Ready For the Next One
After my team turns everything in, we start packing up and planning for the next contest right then. It doesn’t matter if it’s next week or next year. We go clean up, have a couple cold drinks, and discuss what we’ve learned that day.
This is a time for serious reflection. Sometimes it gets heated and punches may get thrown. Well, it’s never physical. But words hurt too, WAYLON… words hurt too.
Seriously, we all know that everybody shares in the blame. And the main thing is to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We want to realize our mistakes and come up with solutions to prevent them from kicking us in the rear on the next go.
No matter how bad you think you did – or how disappointed you might be after you don’t hear your name called – always stick around and pick up your scores. Judges might leave you comments… and more importantly… you might be able to recognize a pattern.
But if you do get stuck in a rut, don’t be afraid to seek advice. I’m always ready to learn something new. Really, that’s what this whole thing is all about. And if you look, you will always find someone willing to give you advice.
It might not always be good advice…. But it’s advice.
And the advice I’m going to give you right now, is the same I give myself on the bad days at contests…
Just don’t get discouraged. Stick with your techniques. Identify your mistakes. And cook any chance you get.
The more you cook, the more you learn, and the better you get.