Sitting down to eat and judge BBQ

By: Staff Report
Image courtesy of Southern BBQ Network The Southern BBQ Network will hold a training class on Saturday, May 13 in Newberry.

NEWBERRY — What is that aroma in the air? It’s the smell of barbecue smoking on a grill that has caught your attention. If this aroma makes you want to dive into a big plate of bbq, devour a plate of succulent ribs or grilled to perfection bbq chicken and tender juicy brisket, then you’re someone who loves bbq.

Know what’s as good as eating bbq? Being a certified barbecue judge and setting down on a Saturday morning to a table with samples of all of your bbq favorites prepared by the best BBQ competition cookers in the South. You can be a judge, simply by joining the Southern BBQ Network.

What is the Southern BBQ Network? We are a non-profit organization that supplies certified judges to contests throughout the southeast. SBN only judges contests that benefit the local communities and charities. To become a certified BBQ judge, just attend our training class on Saturday May 13, 2017 in Newberry, South Carolina, 29108 at the Central United Methodist Church at the corner of Caldwell and Friend Street. Once you have completed the class you can then start judging the next week at Clinton, South Carolinas “Smoke on the Rails” competition, benefiting their “Clinton Community Cares Utility Billing Assistance Fund.” You can also judge at any of the upcoming competitions that the SBN sanctions.

SBN judges an assortment of meats ranging from whole hogs, pork butts, different varieties of pork ribs, All kinds of chicken (Cornish hens, free range, whole chickens prepared (uncut, halved or in pieces) and Beef (Brisket, steaks, tri-tips, etc.). Why do you need to attend a training class for barbecue? Well, to start off there are certain guidelines and rules with the judging process that judges need to know. There are three categories used in judging and they are Appearance, Taste and Aroma, Texture and Tenderness. Each of these have to be studied in detail and samples tested in order to determine the quality of each meat and render a skilled judgement.

Appearance deals predominately with the presentation. The best way to demonstrate this is does it look like something you want to eat!

Aroma simply means what kind of an aroma does it have, smokey, spicy or none at all. The class teaches what sort of an aroma to look for. Taste composes a variety of things to consider with the class looking at both positive and negative features. What spices were used, sauces, can you taste the smoke, too much, too little and so on.

Texture and Tenderness are closely related and deal with the skill of the cooker. The class teaches the cooking techniques needed to determine if the product was property prepared.

Once the person has the concept grasped, then the scoring methodology is explained. The organization uses a “double” blind scoring process. This assures that both the competition cookers and judges do not know whose products are being judged. SBN has judges score on a one decimal point scale of 1.0 to 10.0 with ten being the best score. The categories of Appearance, Aroma and Taste, Texture and Tenderness are “weighted “with Appearance being the lowest in value and Texture and Tenderness being the highest. The reasoning being the ability to prepare the meat is more difficult than making it look good. Score sheets are collected, reviewed and then entered into a computer program that calculates the scores. Detailed reports are provided to the event coordinator so they can announce the winners and to the cookers to show how they placed in the competition.

How do you know what is the quality of the training? The organization’s trainers have extensive experience over many years in both the actual competition and conducting training classes. This class is being conducted by Jack Waiboer. Jack is our President and an original founder of the Southern BBQ Network. Jack has been instrumental in the formation and development of the organization and has conducted SBN classes for over five years across the South.

Why is proper training important? Judges need to have the knowledge of BBQ to provide results so that cookers know they receive fair scores. Cook teams are competing for prize money, respect and a chance to enter the SBN Cook Team of the Year competition. They have to have confidence that their meats are being judged by judges that know the quality of the cooked meats.

But most of all it is fun! Where else can you sit down on a Saturday morning and have excellent BBQ for breakfast and enjoy the friendship of fellow judges!

If this sounds good to you then plan to join us at the SBN training class on Saturday, May 13 at the Central United Methodist Church at the corner of Caldwell and Friend Street in Newberry. Class is from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with lunch provided. The fee for the class is $ 25, plus $35 for annual membership (you must be a member to judge). Seating is limited. Persons interested in becoming a certified BBQ judge can sign up on the SBN website at by clicking on the “Certification Classes” picture, for more information contact Mike Wright at or at 843-425-4186.

Image courtesy of Southern BBQ Network The Southern BBQ Network will hold a training class on Saturday, May 13 in Newberry. courtesy of Southern BBQ Network The Southern BBQ Network will hold a training class on Saturday, May 13 in Newberry.
Southern BBQ Network Training Classes May 13

Staff Report