How does the AllSeasoned Dutch BBQ Team normally do a competition…

This post is also available in: frFrançais (French) itItaliano (Italian)

A typical competition for the AllSeasoned Dutch BBQ Team starts on a Friday. That’s when our big guy Edwin or Peter gets up early and collects the different meats at Vlees.nu which we use for the competition. A lot of teams have an option to collect their different meats a bit earlier so they can do their prepping in the comforts of their home. Prepping at home gives you more spare time on the competition and more time to spend with your bbq friends and in case of a bad batch of meat what sometimes happens, you have a heads up where you can try to get good replacement meat.
Due to the long distance between our individual members this is unfortunately not a possibility for us. So unlike a lot of teams we have to do the entire prep on the competition site. And without further backup. Fortunately for us, we like to do it that way! Although there is never a dull moment and you’re always busy we somehow manage to do all this with and have some time to spare which we get to enjoy with our friends.
About the meat,
We normally use 8 whole free range cornfed chicken, where we mostly concentrate on the legs for the competition. The rest is used for an awesome curry we share on Saturday’s.
For the pork we use “Friberne” which basically means “born Frisian”. It’s a special breed of pork that has been fed with a blend of good quality grub packed with herbs like garlic, sage, chestnuts, juniper berries and loads more. This helps the pigs with a healthy intestinal track, so you get a happier and healthier pig.  The main focus of the farmers is the wellbeing of the animals, so from the moment the pigs are born they do their best to keep the pigs free from stress and generally give them a happy life. Even the transport is modified to ensure a stress free ride for the pigs. So a sustainable and durable way of farming. This all helps with the pigs being happy and healthy and gaining a higher fat ratio especially intramuscular fat and packed with awesome taste. So not only a product where we can rely on and use without any reservation, it also tastes pretty damn good!
We get to use 4 sparerib strings complete with the belly on and  2 Boston butts for the pork category.
And for the brisket we get 2 awesome quality USA grain fed black angus briskets. As you can imagine that takes quite a bit of cooling space, so Edwin or Peter brings along our enormous kick ass Orion Cooler and the trailer with all the other gear we need for the competition.

So, time for a drive to the competition area….

We mostly try if possible, to arrive on the Friday.  This gives us plenty of time to setup our tent and gear, so we can have a pleasant Friday evening with our friends and some “Klein Duimpje” beers and some good night sleep too. The Friday nights are very different from the Saturday’s, because there isn’t any competitions stress yet. So there is more time for fun and games and some beers too, and all the work you get done on Friday’s is time saved on Saturday. This isn’t always possible for example due to competition regulations, or simply because the drive takes longer but we enjoy the extra day. Otherwise, just more hard work on Saturday!

You can see us set up our competition area on Youtube in 360 degrees!!:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14pmDYhrNes
Its at the regahfest competition in The Hague.

We bring quite a lot of stuff along, In the beginning we had a truck and 3 trailers filled to the brim with all kinds of gear, at least 6 BBQ’s or more , it was complete chaos and madness! Peter always says knives to men, are like shoes and bags for women. So everyone brought all their knives for all to see, because you can never ever have enough knives. Now we have just enough knives for the job, and it’s in the trailer, so we don’t have to bring along any extra’s from home.
Through the years we managed to trim off a lot of unnecessary gear,  to get to where we are today. According to Vincent Peter and Edwin I still bring too much gear along. So we in general and me specifically try to continue to downsize every competition. That means I have to leave stuff back home and that’s hard! 😊
Besides, there is always a moment where someone needs a particular item and they can’t find it, then they always point in my direction. And I probable did bring it along! But more often than before I answer those questions with the proud answer, “nope, I didn’t bring it because it’s not on my list…”
So even downsizing can bring some regrets, but traveling as light as possible is the right way to go.

Saturday, competition starts…
So it’s competition day, and we’ve set up our tents and tables and such.
Normally around 10:30 you can ask the KCBS reps for the meat inspection. (if they haven’t asked yet already)
The meat inspection Is there for health and safety and to ensure a level playing field and that all teams abide the rules that are set by the KCBS. So they inspect the temperatures of the meat (without probing) and see if the meat is the proper cut, raw and without injection, seasoning and such. This normally only takes 5 minutes or so, but it’s an essential step in the competition.
It is possible to trim the meat prior or during the meat inspection, just no seasoning or injections and such yet.
I has happened that a new team for example brought along the wrong cut of meat, this could end up as a disqualification during the meat inspection! Luckily there are always other teams who are willing to help out with either meat, or by having the right connections where they set you up with the proper cut of meat through a butcher or sponsor..

After you’ve passed the meat inspection you can start flavouring the meat, with seasonings, dry rubs, marinades whatever rocks your boat. I wont go into details here, that would be an entirely different story…. Since we haven’t done any prepping work yet, we need to get to work ASAP!
Depending on who calls dibs on the work table first, Vincent starts his science on carving his Boston Butts, Peter starts with his tedious trimming of the briskets, I start working on the Spare ribs, and Edwin sits down for his beloved chicken. Sits down? Yup he sits down for at least 6 hours, because that’s the amount of time he needs to make lollypops out of chicken drums. Let’s just say his art takes time, and for that we like to call him our chicken magician… Besides, he’s the only one mad enough wanting to do the chicken, might as well let him have it!

During the prepping work we still have plenty time to walk around and see our friend at the competition. We always enjoy a good conversation either with our friends or with the interested people who wonder the competition area. What’s not to like, we get the chance to talk about our passion for good food and amazing BBQ and we get to show off our equipment!

Saturday evening,
We always cook a spicy and good curry to feast on where everyone is invited, but there are a lot of competitions where there is good food available for the competitors. For instance our friend from the Belgian team The Filous, always serve a good beer to go along with the real deal Belgian fries at the Beer fries and BBQ competition in Hasselt.  They set a very high standard which other organizers try to match. (And successfully so I might add!!)
It’s the most fun time for the teams, not a lot of audience, all you BBQ friends are there, and maybe a few drinks too? It’s the time where legends are born, the biggest stories are told and who knows, maybe even some secrets are being shared. Probable none related to BBQ though, not many have secrets. It’s all very good fun and laughter. These nights are what fuels the love for competition BBQ, at least it does so for our team. Good times with good food, BBQ and our amazing friends from all corners of the world, it’s simply awesome.

Night time,
Depending on the cut of meat and team preference to do low and slow or the currently popular high and fast method, its either time to put on the meat or not, but either way, its time for a well-deserved drink and gather around a fire or two!
Because most visitors will most likely head home around this time, its quality time with friends and your new yet to discover friends.  It’s pretty easy to make friends with the same interest on a BBQ competition area! This time lasts till 2300, then it’s quiet time.

Quiet time is a rule by KCBS that prohibits: “excessive noise, including but not limited to that generated from speakers, such as radios, CD players, TVs, public address systems or amplifying equipment, will not be allowed during quiet time, designated to start at 11:00 p.m. on contest nights and will last until 7:00 a.m. unless otherwise determined by the event.”
Those who disregard the rules are in danger of risking a DQ (disqualification)….

Thanks to that specific rule we can all get a good night sleep, assuming you sleep instead of mending flames….

We are a fortunate team to have insulated smokers from Backwoods Smoker. It’s a vertical vault type water smoker that are very widely used by a lot of competitions teams in the USA. And that’s for good reasons, they work like a charm! When we did the World Food Competition in the USA in 2016 we had 2 smokers at our disposal. We felt like true kings on the hill! We were shocked to see at least 30 other teams working with at least 2 smokers from Backwoods smoker!!!
These smokers burn very economical so when it comes to keeping the fire going it’s pretty easy! To be absolutely sure of it we are fortunate to combine it with the pure ease of putting our smoker on cruise control with a Flame Boss. The Flame Boss is our digital pitmaster, so without the need to attend the fire ourselves we can sleep throughout the night. And if there is an emergency, the flame boss app will notify us to wake up. It works so good that ever since we use it we get to sleep!

Wake up time….
The hot and fast teams start their fires arounds 5, and we wake up around 7ish..
That means we get to join in on the 7:07 breakfast of champions!
At the magical time of 7:07 it time for a tradition where we raise a glass of Jack Daniels, for good luck and good laughs with the fellow competitors and share some breakfast. It’s also the end of quiet time, so crank up the music! In our case this means lots of guitar is required….

All teams start to check their meats, and the presentational boxes are being prepped.  It’s key to have a planning when to do exactly what.  An entire book can be written about that, but its easy to see why certain teams are good at scoring, they owe a lot to consistency and routine.
Having a routine minimizes errors, and will help you get through the competition.
Right around this time is where the competition related stress and adrenaline starts to flow. A truly marvelous time that balances somewhere between a happy mood and a very disgruntled mood, all depending on how well the meat turned out to be….
A lot of visitors start to roam the competition grounds, judges report in, and do their best not to fraternize with the teams. Most BBQ teams know or are befriended with a lot of the judges and vice versa, but at this time a friendly wave or a simple “Hi’ will have to do for now. It’s not until the judging is done that judges really get to see and talk to the teams. A strict set of rules set forth by the KCBS but again for good reason. Fraternizing could me misunderstood, so best to avoid it until judging is done. It’s a small world and a specific small traveling circus like of feel, so you get to know most of the players.

Plus most teams are to busy to really sit down and have a chat, it’s game day!!

So standard it’s At 12 time for the chicken to be turned in.
1230 the pork ribs,
1300 the pork, and at 1330 the brisket.
Maybe even an ancillary dish…

By the time we are done with our turn Ins, we are pretty much and hopefully happily exhausted.
So we sit down for a well deserved drink and we start to form a battle plan. (this time probable something without alcohol because a long drive awaits)
We need to clean all used gear like the smokers, the tables, all the stainless stuff, our knives, oh man, it’s at that time you realize you DO bring along a lot of stuff, because now you have to clean it all!!
After cleaning all that stuff it needs to go in the trailer, and it’s always a tight fit. And besides the fact that we ‘d rather be doing the jig than cleaning and packing, there is also only a few hours or so till roughly around 17:00 hours, because then the award ceremony begins….
So this is a time where a lot is going on, and where routine helps a lot.  Teams that minimize prepping on site are usually the first to be packed and ready. I can happily say we are getting faster and faster! Our gear is shrinking and improving, due to an EZup tent we are certainly a lot faster than before!
Other teams and friend are always willing to lend a hand for the big stuff like tents, and the heavy lifting, but most of it you do it yourselves. Because everyone is pretty tired about now…

So award time,
Everything is packed and in the trailer minus some chairs you might want to sit on during the award ceremony. So you pick a spot and have a sit. Hopefully you get to be called for, or you might get a chance to walk and collect an award. Heck who knows you might even be called as last to be the overall winner! (We’ve not had the chance yet, Reserve grand Champion is the highest honors we had so far!)
With BBQ being a judges sport, your gut feeling on how well you did does nothing for your score unfortunately… It’s the judges that do their judging to their best ability, and there is nothing you can do about it. So whatever happens, happens. We’ve had occasions where we thought we did really good and where scored down, and vise versa.  So it sometimes happens you’ve thought you’ve done crap, but you score with it!!

During the ceremony as a competitor you get to feel some tension and excitement,  and hopefully you get to experience a lot of joy too, because it’s truly awesome to hear your name being called out. As in all sports, most get some form of disappointment for not being the first as there can only be one. (and I hope it’s us! 😊)
Iif we make it as a team to get to collect an award we go as a team, because in our case it’s truly a team’s effort. What a indescribable feeling to win something you worked so hard for, it gets you hooked on more competition BBQ wanting to do more. And that grin that sits on your face lasts at least a drive homebound. And if we didn’t win, we as a team are also pretty happy for our friends to be called for and see them win!

Coming season we are doing 8 competitions, so come see us. You can find our schedule at www.allseasoned.nl
Feel free to ask us anything if you have questions, and otherwise drop in to say hi!

Hugo Bartels
haxquiz@gmail.com


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