Who/What is KCBS?

THE KANSAS CITY BARBEQUE SOCIETY (KCBS), is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbeque, it is the world’s largest organization of barbeque and grilling enthusiasts with over 25,000 members worldwide.

KCBS sanctions over 500 barbeque contests worldwide. From volunteering to actual event production, their members also offer assistance to civic and charitable organizations who organize events.

This year there are 33 KCBS sanctioned contests in Europe and the UK. This number is still on the rise and clearly competition bbq is on fire and the smoke lingers on!

There are four mandatory meat categories that must be provided and cooked by each team for the event to qualify as a Master Series Competition. These meats are inspected prior to cooking and may not be transported off the competition site after inspection.

The Four KCBS Meat Categories are as listed below:

CHICKEN: Chicken includes Cornish Game Hen and Kosher Chicken.

PORK RIBS: Ribs shall include the bone . Country style ribs are prohibited.

PORK: Pork is defined as Boston Butt, Boston Roast, Picnic and/or Whole Shoulder, weighing a minimum of four (4) pounds at the time of inspection. After trimming, pork shall be cooked whole (bone in or bone out), however, once cooked, it m ay be separated and returned to the cooker at the cook’s discretion. It may be turned in chopped, pulled, chunked, sliced or a combination of any of those.

BEEF BRISKET: May be whole brisket, flat, or point. Corned beef is not allowed.

Each contestant must submit at least six (6) portions of meat in an approved container. Chicken, pork and brisket may be submitted chopped, pulled, sliced, or diced as the cook sees fit, as long as there is enough for six (6) judges. Ribs shall be turned in bone – in. Judges may not cut, slice, or shake apart to separate pieces. If there is not enough meat for each judge to sample, the shorted judge(s) will score a one (1) on all criteria, and the judges having samples will change the Appearance score to one (1) as a penalty.

Judging typically starts at Noon on Sunday.

The four (4) KCBS categories will be judged in the following order:


PORK RIBS 12:30 pm

PORK 1:00 pm


Judging will be done by a team of 6 persons at each judging table, who are at least 16 years of age.

Each judge will first score all the samples for appearance of the meat. The turn – in containers will then be passed around the table and each judge will place a sample from each of the containers in the appropriate box on the judging plate. The judge will then score each entry for taste and tenderness, before moving on to the next entry.

The scoring system is from 9 to 2, all whole numbers between two and nine may be used to score an entry. 9 excellent, 8 very good, 7 above average, 6 average, 5 below average, 4 poor, 3 bad, and 2 inedible.

Total points per entry will determine the champion within each meat category and ultimately the overall Grand Champion.

Because of the long cook times associated with low and slow style bbq, these events are typically held over a weekend. Most teams camp out overnight in their cook sites. This leads to an overall spirit of comradery and deep rooted friendships as well as a competitive spirit that has to be experienced to understand. The fiercest competitor will literally give the shirt off his back to help a fellow competitor.

I started my competition career by becoming a Certified Bbq Judge (CBJ) at BBQ Beers and Fries contest in Hasselt, Belgium 5 years ago. This is great way to learn about the world of KCBS prior to competing. The classes are typically held on Saturdays and you are able to judge at the contest the following day.

Come and join in the fun!

For more information and local contests in your area visit the KCBS official website 

Jed Thompson

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