Jessie, The Judginator

Reader, yesterday I became a Judge.

… No, not THAT kind of judge! THIS kind of judge:

That’s right! Yesterday, I became a Certified BBQ Judge, as well as a proud member of the Kansas City BBQ Society, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities. Note: I do not live in Kansas, nor do I particularly like meat. So, how does a veggie-loving girl end up in a Certified BBQ Judge class?

Oh, right.

The BBQ Judge class was held at the BBQ Pit in Norwalk, CT. There, we learned the stringent rules behind being a competent BBQ Judge, including how the meat may be presented, grounds for disqualification (which includes using red leaf lettuce or “pools of sauce” as garnish), and why it is forbidden to talk while judging or to even utter grunts of appreciation. This is serious stuff, folks.

Peter and his brother Dave studying up on the rules of being dee Judginatorrrrrrr:

Some of the Judging rules in the official manual are as follows:

“Any whole numbers 9 (Excellent) through 2 (Inedible) may be used as many times as Warranted during judging.”

“Maintain neutral body language. No facial expression of rapture or disgust. If you need to remove the sample from your mouth, do so inconspicuously into a napkin.”

“If you do not eat chicken skin, at least taste it, then discreetly discard. Continue to judge the chicken.”

Now that we’ve gotten some rules out of the way, let’s look at the food! BBQ competitions are built around the four pillars of meat: chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder/butt, and beef brisket. Each meat is judged in separate judging rounds. I won’t go into specifics, but basically each competitor’s meat is numbered and judged according to three categories: appearance, taste, and tenderness. Winners can take home significant cash prizes, so it’s worth a competitor’s time to make his or her meat pretty, tasty, and tender but firm (much like a certain blogger).

Let’s take a look at chicken first.

The chicken is resting on a type of laminated paper with squares marking off samples from the different competitors. Appearance is judged first, then taste and tenderness. Violations of competition rules result in a score of 1 (disqualification).

Saltines to cleanse the palate between tastes:

Let’s run through the rest of the meat quickly.

Pork ribs:

Pork shoulder:

Beef brisket:

(No picture! Oops. Imagine large slabs of meat. Or just look at the second picture in this post.)

Our scorecards:

(For the record, I am not The Judginator. That was Dave.)

Taking the oath of Yee Judgeship:

Tummies full:

(Don’t Peter and Dave look so much alike??)

I’ve NEVER eaten so much meat at once before. All that protein just sat in my stomach all afternoon and spoiled any desire for dinner – so oatmeal it was! 😀

As a final parting, I leave you with the Kansas City BBQ Society Official Oath for Judge Certification:

I do solemnly swear
to objectively and subjectively evaluate
each Barbeque meat
that is presented
to my eyes, my nose, my hands and my palate.
I accept my duty
to be an Official KCBS Certified Judge,
so that truth,
excellence in Barbeque
and the American Way of Life
may be strengthened and preserved

Q: What would be your fantasy competition to judge? Peanut butters? Veggies? Meats? I think you can guess mine:


  1. Hehe, PhB!! 🙂 That is SOOOOOOO awesome!! What a cool opportunity!! I would love to be a food contest judge!! If I could pick anything to judge… pizza maybe?? I say that now, but after eating greasy pizza for an entire afternoon I might be screaming uncle!! 😉

  2. Oh my goodness, how much fun is this?!?!?! How awesome that you got to participate!

    I would definitely want to be a judge in a cake or pie making contest – yum!

  3. I am not having a good time posting a comment; I don’t know why I’ve had to do multiple tries

    All I want to say is that people are serious about their barbeque and I am serious about hummus

  4. This post is soooo funny! What a good time! I would love to judge at a wine event 🙂 Or cheese or chocolate.
    I really hope I get to meet you at some local blogger meetup this summer. You and Peter seem like a lot of fun!

  5. Whoa – i didn’t know bbq judging was so intense!! haha. looks like a ton of fun, though 🙂

    i’m with you – judging pb would be pretty fantastic. jams might be fun too – or BREAD! 😀

  6. Mr. M always talks about how he wants to do this, we love watching BBQ competitions on TV looks so fun

  7. Before my recent journey into eating healthy I would have said coookie,cake,sweets in general. Now though I’d probably pick BBQ judge,too.
    Congrats! You get cash to do this or is eating all that meat your payment?

  8. Dear Jessie,
    In my mind, you have now attained a level of coolness which I previously thought unattainable. Congratulations, Cool Cat.

    This was the best blog post ever to end my day. It was so fun, so relaxing, and I read practically the whole thing out loud to my brother (he is obsessed with meats). He laughed. We had fun. We like people like you and Peter (and potentially, Peter’s brother). I thought the rules were hilarious. And I’m so impressed with your courage in participating in a BBQ contest–that’s incredibly hardcore.

    Hmmm my dream contest to judge would probably be…hold on I have to think about this… OK! GOT IT! Mushrooms. Different dishes of sautéed Mushrooms (including any and all exotic kinds). And including fungi, too, naturally. 😀

    1. *polishes fingernails in her coolness* hehehe 😉

  9. Ha ha, you always surprise me with unexpected topics and experiences 🙂 I know what I want to judge – chocolate! Oh, and soup! And bread. And loose leaf tea. And maybe yogurt. Oooh, ice cream! And salads. Oh dear, too many things! Hooray for tasty food 🙂

  10. So much fun! I would love to judge a chocolate competition…I can just imagine how delicious that would be.

    You are so pretty Jessie!

    1. Aww, thanks Ameena! 🙂

  11. Jessie! You gorgeous rib-attacker! Wow, a judge!!! Seriously, you rock for this! If it’s even possible, my love and admiration for you have doubled! Haha!

    I’d love to be a judge for roasted veggies, or cheese, or sandwiches, or hmm…I should look for a more expensive item…sashimi? haha, is there such a thing? Probably not!

    1. Haha! You’re right, Christie! I was preparing a few posts to go up while I was in China, and like the butterfingers I am, I hit “Publish” instead of “Save Draft”. Oops! You have quick eyes, because I don’t think that post was up for more than a minute!

  12. A bbq judge?! You are my hero!! There would be so many yummy things I’d like to be a taster for.. almond butter is probably #1! Ice cream would be fun too 🙂

  13. This looks nice, but, like you, I would have trouble eating meat again for some time!!

    So I could be a judge for drinks and beverages, like tea or wine (but mostly tea) or some kind of very light food, like… oh I don’t know, fruit maybe? 😀

  14. A food judge is the best kind of judge — or at least the most fun! 🙂 My fantasy competition to judge would have to be cheese. Yum.

  15. I have never heard of anything like this, but it sounds so cool! You are too cute. Congratulations on your PhB haha.
    It looks like a lot of fun. I would love to do something like this with different fruits, veggies, nut butters, or anything made with coconut. Yes, coconut is my first love.
    And yes, Peter and Dave do look a lot alike.
    Glad you had fun love xox

  16. wow girl! good for you for having the courage to be a bbq judge. not that i’m vegetarian but i’m totally picky with my meats. you’re more adventurous than me with that. some of those rules are pretty funny…teehee. thanx for sharing 😀
    i totally did a double take at the picture of Peter and Dave. dumb question, are they twins or do they just really look alike?
    fantasy competition to judge definitely would have to be seafood 😛 have a great day girl!

  17. Judging food is pretty much my DREAM job, and I’m sure pretty much the entire world feels the same way 😛 If I could judge anything, it would hands down be some sort of dessert competition. I’m thinking…PIES! Or ice cream. Clearly I’m the picture of health, haha.

  18. What a great post. Please try to be nice when I post a BBQ dish. The “Judginator” that is priceless.

    I think I would enjoy being a judge on Top Chef…That would be cool!

    Enjoyable read. Thank you!


  19. I love that you were a judge at a BBQ contest of all places! It looks like so much fun though…I do love some bbq-ed pork….

    I would love to judge a PB contest…but I bet I would get full so quickly. Now ice cream. That I could do.

  20. I would love to be a dessert judge, haha! It would be soo great getting the chance to taste delicious cheesecakes, pies, creme brulees!!! I am going to stop now before I run out and get a whole pie for myself 😉

  21. That is too crazy. I can’t even believe that kind of thing exists. I would love to be a PB or chocolate judge, even combined together. A little of this, a little of that!

  22. Haha, all that looks like a lot of fun! I want to be a BBQ judge too 😀 I would LOVE to to judge cheesecakes, ice cream, hamburgers, pizzas, pastas… oh well, any food 😉

  23. Hahhaa, this is so much fun! I love that you got to participate in such a great event. I would love to be a BBQ judge! OR dare I say, a PhB!
    I think I’d be best at judging cakes and cookies. I have a trained palate when it comes to dessert!!

  24. This is hilarious!!! Congratulations on your new appointment as a certified BBQ Judge. Who knew it was such an intense process?? (Answer, not me!!)

    If I could be a professional judge, it would be for baked goods — any and all, especially if they contain chocolate. And I like to think I have pretty high standards when it comes to desserts. 😉

  25. How fun this looked!
    If I had to choose, I might have to go with some dessert..maybe brownies! Of course the dietitian chooses something super unhealthy.

  26. being a food judge sounds like fun!!! i would like to try my hand at cookies or cake or pie. sweet stuff, obviously!

  27. OMG – This was so funny and those rules are pretty hilarious!! You are so cool Jessie, when I saw what the post was about, I just had to laugh out loud!

    I would die of happiness if someone invited me to judge a tuna sashimi contest – just tuna and I swear I’d pass out from rapture if they had tuna belly too *sighhhhhhhhhh*

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