sampled September 2, 2012
This was my third KCBS judging stint at the annual Bedford Blues and BBQ Festival. As there are not many KCBS events in Texas, this is billed as the KCBS Texas State Championship. This year there were 59 cooks competing, up a bit from the 51 last year. We had plenty of judges present, I'd guess about 60 or so. The judges meeting kicked off at 10:30 am with the usual instructions, CD, and the BBQ oath. The food began to arrive at noon and continued non-stop til 3:30 pm. Overall, I was disappointed with the quality of the entries I sampled this year. I had one piece of chicken which was exceptional, but the ribs, brisket and pulled pork were all very average. Discussions with the other judges after we had turned in our score cards showed I was not alone in that evaluation.
After the 4 main meats, about 2/3 of the judges departed, and us hardcore types stuck around to try sides, sauce and desserts. Since we had a much smaller judging crew left, they split us up on sauce and beans and our table received 10 samples of sauce. Again, several were "OK", but nothing stood out, except in a negative way! One, I swear, was just ketchup. Maybe one of the cooks was just screwing with us, but I don't think there was anything in that cup but store brand ketchup! Another was so thick it was gelled and laid on my plate in a pile! A pile of sauce. Ick. I wish I could have taken a photo of that, but we're not allowed to take pictures of entries. Potato salad was up next and this was one of the better categories of the day. The fact that a sponsor had kicked in a $1000 prize probably helped that a bit. The one that stood out to me had bits of bacon and grilled shrimp. Yum! Desserts were last and as they came in there were oohs and ahhhs from the judges. We were even lobbying for specific entries, "Hey, we wanna judge that cake!" Some of them really looked great. We ended up with only two dessert entries to judge at our table, and the standout was a peanut butter cream chocolate cheese cake. It was as good as it sounds.
I left a full and happy man after a fun afternoon of sampling some pretty good food with some really nice folks. Once again the facilities at Bedford were great. We dined in air-conditioned comfort and the KCBS staff did a great job of running the fast moving events. I hope to be back for number 4 next year!