People eat with their eyes…as if I didn’t already know that after competing 11 years on the professional BBQ circuit. Sometimes we have to re-learn things we already know to reinforce them. I believe that our success at the National BBQ Festival in November should be credited to TLW’s presentation of our ribs and brisket. I can only take credit for the ribs that I selected and of course the cooking of them. They were especially meaty…but the rest was due to her creativity…
Friday, after our finish in the middle of the pack of the Invitational event, we had a discussion with two judges, one our good friend Bob Lyon from the Seattle area. TLW asked them how they came up with their presentation scores, which amount to almost 25% of the total score for each entry. Many points were mentioned that we always keep in mind, but one stood out. Since the turn in boxes at this event were bigger than those usually used, the boxes should still be very full. In the Invitational, we did not follow this advice, and in thinking about our presentations, we could have added more samples.
In Saturday’s Open event, we kept that concept in mind and had no problem with putting in plenty of ribs, since all of our slabs were awesome. Below is a picture of our turn in box. During Friday’s contest, TLW put in one layer of ribs, but on Saturday two layers really filled up the box. And the judges must have liked them giving this entry the first place nod.
We had a major problem with our chicken. It came out of the pit much darker than usual. In retrospect, we ran out of honey that we usually use to sweeten our sauce and replaced it with maple syrup…could this have been the culprit? It took a great effort for TLW (and a lot of cuss words) to find enough pieces of chicken to fill the box…We were decidedly unhappy with that sample even though the day before, chicken was our only top ten finish.
When it was time to turn in our brisket, we ran into another snag. Our four briskets all seemed to be slightly overcooked…even though TG thought they were at perfect temperature. After cutting in to all four, TLW had about ten slices that were acceptable to her…but alone in the box they looked pitiful. So, she cut pieces from fatty parts that we usually don’t turn in…but love to eat. With about 30 seconds left, she placed them in the box jigsaw fashion and figured that all was lost. Much to our surprise, the judges gave us first place…amaziing!
Now whether you compete or not, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you incorporate good presentation into the food that you feed your guests. Looks do count!