Judging BBQ: A science and an art, always for good causes

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Judging barbecue is not simply pulling a chair up to a table and sampling different cuts of the pig: It is both a science and art that requires a lot of testing, tasting and training. South Carolina Barbecue Association’s (SCBA) co-founder Lake High says that when he and Walter Rolandi initiated the SCBA in 2004, one of their top priorities was to make South Carolina the capital of the barbecue world.

JB McCarty was the grand champion winner at last year’s Bands, Brews & BBQ.
JB McCarty was the grand champion winner at last year’s Bands, Brews & BBQ.

“Barbecue was invented right here in South Carolina, in fact, in Port Royal.  And we’re the only state that has all four basic barbecue sauces: vinegar and pepper, mustard, light tomato and heavy tomato.” One of SCBA’s strategies is to use the association not only to promote barbecue, but also to train groups of judges to help regulate the core of judging and set higher standards for the cookers. “Our system of judging puts all the cookers competing on the same playing field,” says Lake.

Lady’s Island residents Quentin and Barbara Tedder have been trained by the SCBA and have judged at more than 25 barbecue events over the last three years, but this year they are “marshaling” for Bands, Brews & BBQ, benefiting Friends of Caroline Hospice.

“We’ve judged this event and cooked at this event in the past, but this year we were honored to be named Marshals. SCBA Marshals help coordinate the cooks and monitor the SCBA judging,” says Quentin.

The fourth annual Bands, Brews & BBQ is a two day event hosted by the town of Port Royal and  will be held on February 22-23. Friday night will feature chicken wings, music and brews.  Saturday afternoon will be the first sanctioned event of the year for the South Carolina Barbecue Association as cookers compete for the best BBQ and ribs and begin collecting points to become the 2013 South Carolina Barbecue Champion.  “And the cookers compete seriously for the coveted prizes that are awarded by the best trained barbecue judges in the nation,” states Lake High.

Says Quentin, “The training to be a SCBA certified judge is rigorous and precise. The emphasis is on consistency and fairness.  You must first attend a seminar and then judge at four events, sampling meat, and learning how to score but your first scores don’t count. Then you are awarded an SCBA Certified Judge ranking.  We became Senior Judges and Marshals last year and our goal this year is to become Master Judges, the highest judging status in the SCBA.”

Being a SCBA certified judge is not a paid position, but it is a gratifying one.  “We’ve been to so many SC towns we’ve never visited before. Each town’s festival benefits a great cause, specific to each community,” says Barbara. “We’re so excited to be the SCBA Marshals in our hometown at Bands, Brews & BBQ which benefits Friends of Caroline Hospice.”

Quentin agrees, adding “We’re looking forward to seeing a big crowd in Port Royal Friday night at the Wing Throw-down and then Saturday afternoon at the barbecue event. This is an opportunity for the public to sample ‘Que from some of the best cooks in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Plus there is live music and entertainment for the kids.”

Bands Brews & BBQ is a major fundraiser for Friends of Caroline Hospice, a nonprofit organization that offers end-of-life services. The organization does not ask for money from its patients or rely on insurance or government programs. Its main form of fundraising is through donations and community events, including Bands, Brews & BBQ.

4th Annual Bands, Brews & BBQ

• Friday, February 22, 6-9 p.m.: The Wing Throw Down: Each cooker will prepare wings in the style they choose for public sampling and judging. The party will feature live music until 10 p.m.

• Saturday, February 23, 12-4 pm: BBQ Competition Day: Festivalgoers sample barbecue and ribs from cooking teams from across the southeast, competing in a sanctioned SCBA cook-off.

• Tickets: Tickets may be purchased for $20 each day (or $35 for both days) on-line at friendsofcarolinehospice.com. Tickets will also be available at Carolina Wings & Ribs, 1714 Ribaut Road; Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, 701 Craven Street; Lowcountry Produce Market & Café, 302 Carteret Street; Q on Bay, 822 Bay Street and 94.5 The Coast in Habersham.

  Call (843) 525-6257 for more information. To compete, visit the SCBA or Friends of Caroline website for a registration form or contact Maura@friendsofcarolinehospice.com.