Cooks Manual

Cook Teams


  • Each team must have a designated Head Cook, who may not participate competitively with other teams nor enter more than one team in the same event.
  • Each Head Cook or team must be a member of the Association.
  • Each team is responsible for making themselves familiar with the specific rules for each event, such that they arrive at the event prepared to comply with all requirements.
  • The Head Cook is responsible for the team’s adherence to the event’s rules and association competition rules.


  • Each team will be assigned a cooking space. All equipment must fit within the assigned space.
  • Whenever possible, teams should arrange their cook sites in such a way that teams, their visitors, and the public are prevented from making contact with hot cook pits.
  • Each team must provide their own cooking equipment and supplies.
  • Teams requiring electricity must provide their own power, unless it is offered by the venue.
  • Each team must maintain a clean cooking area.
  • Each team’s cook site must have an approved fire extinguisher.
  • Pets are not allowed in cooking/food preparation areas.
  • All materials and garbage must be disposed of by the team. Each team’s entire assigned area must be cleaned at the end of the event.
  • Each team must comply with any and all applicable local and state health and safety laws and regulations.


  • Each team must provide a pit or pits to be used exclusively by that team within the team’s assigned cooking space. No cooking of food entries from two or more teams is allowed in the same pit(s).
  • The heat source for cooking must be from charcoal, wood, and/or wood pellets. Gas or electric is allowed for the heating of water and sauces, and as fire starters.
  • No gas or electric cookers are permitted, unless the association approves it before hand
  • Marshall has stipulated otherwise, for preparing special categories. In any case, gas or electric cookers are not permitted the cooking of any of the championship categories.
  • Electric accessories such as spits, augers, and forced draft are permitted.


  • Violation of Association competition rules or violation of event-specific rules.
  • The use of gas, electric, or other unauthorized heat sources.
  • Disqualification penalties/duration will be determined by the Association Board within 30 days of the event in question.
  • Otherwise the disqualification shall not exceed 30 days from that event.

Competition Food Rules


  • All competition foods not provided by the event organizer must be presented for inspection during a site visit at the beginning of the event before food preparation work can commence. All on-site team containers may be inspected.
  • At their discretion, the Association Marshall or his/her designee may return to your cook site at any time during a contest.
  • The Association Marshall shall make the final decision as to whether any competitive food product is to be allowed.


  • Competition Meats – May not be pre-cooked, marinated, cured, injected, seasoned, etc. prior to the food inspection. Meats may be pre-trimmed.
  • Fire Extinguisher – Required at each cook site.
  • Pit(s)/Cooker(s) – No gas or electric pit(s)/cooker(s) are permitted.
  • Teams with incomplete/unsatisfactory inspections will not be issued turn-in containers until all requirements have been met.


  • Following inspection, all storage, preparation, seasoning, cooking, and finishing of competition foods shall be done within a team’s cook site. All equipment related to the preparation and cooking of the competition foods shall be contained within the boundaries of the team’s assigned cook site. Other than pre-trimming of competition meats, food preparation away from the cook site is not allowed.
  • RVs and enclosed trailers are subject to inspection by the Association Marshall or his/her designee.
  • All meats must be held at safe temperatures, before and after cooking.


  • Unless provided by the event organizer, all teams are to supply their own competition foods.
  • If competition foods are provided by the event organizer, teams must cook/enter the provided meats and may not cook/enter other meats.
  • Association championship meat categories are whole hog, whole shoulder, and whole chicken.

Cooks Meeting Agenda (At Least One Representative From Each Team Must Attend)

A. Team Roll Call
B. Welcome
C. Introductions/Overview

  • Association Marshall

  • Event Organizer

  • Other Association Officials

  • Sponsor(s)

  • Number of Teams

  • Prize Money/Number Places Paid

  • Other

D. Venue Information

  • Water

  • Electricity

  • Garbage

  • Gray Water

  • Ash

  • Grease

  • Restrooms

  • Other

E. Matching Mentors With New Teams
F. Review of Rules
G. Explanation of Categories

  • Judging Criteria

  • Turn-In Containers

H. Official Notification

  • Turn-In Location

  • Turn-In/Presentation Times

  • Official Association Time

I. Closing

  • Questions & Answers

  • Contact Info for Association Marshall

  • Contact Info for Event Organizer

  • Emergency Contact Info

J. Distribution of Turn-In Containers
K. Adjourn
L. Extra Assistance For New Teams

Competition Meat Categories, Entry Requirements, & Entry Presentation

Association BBQ

  • Our Association defines BBQ as pork meat and chicken meat prepared only on a wood and/or charcoal fire, basted or not as the cook sees fit, with any natural/non-poisonous substances and sauces as the cook believes necessary.
  • There are three categories eligible for Grand Championship in the contests – Whole Hog, Whole Shoulder, and Whole Chicken.
Whole Hog Sample Turn In Box
Whole Hog Sample Turn In Box


  • A whole hog entry is defined by the Association as an entire hog whose dressed weight is 90 pounds or more prior to removal of the head and feet, and which must be cooked as one complete unit on one cooking surface.
  • No portion or portions of the whole hog may be separated prior to or during the cooking process.
  • For blind judging, whole hog entries may be served sliced, chopped, or pulled.
  • Entries must be served without sauce. However, sauce “on-the-side” is allowed.


Whole Shoulder Sample Turn In Box
Whole Shoulder Sample Turn In Box
  • A whole pork shoulder/whole shoulder entry is defined by the Association as the portion of a hog/pig containing the arm bone, shank bone, and a portion of the blade bone, which must be cooked as one complete unit on one cooking surface..
    No portion or portions of the whole shoulder may be separated prior to or during the cooking process.
  • Boston butts, picnic shoulders, and pork hams are not valid entries.
  • For blind judging, whole shoulder entries may be served sliced, chopped, or pulled.
  • Entries must be served without sauce. However, sauce “on-the-side” is allowed.


Whole Chicken Sample Turn In Box
Whole Chicken Sample Turn In Box
  • A whole chicken entry is defined by the Association entire chicken – broilers, fryers, or roasters, but not Cornish hens – which must be cooked as one complete unit on one cooking surface.
  • No portion or portions of the whole chicken may be separated prior to or during the cooking process.
    For blind judging, whole chicken entries must be served bone-in, separated into the appropriate number of servings, and include both white and dark.
  • Entries must be served without sauce. However, sauce “on-the-side” is allowed.


  • Turn-in times and the official the Association time are announced at the cooks’ meeting.
  • There may not be official notification of approaching turn-in times. Teams are responsible for turning in their entries on time.
  • The designated turn-in table for entries opens five minutes prior to the announced turn-in time, and closes five minutes after the posted turn-in time. Entries in line at the table prior to closing will be accepted. Late (or early) entries will not be accepted. The official Association time will be strictly observed.
  • Entries must be served without sauce. However, sauce “on-the-side” is allowed.


  • Garnish of any kind is not allowed for both blind judging entries and on-site presentations.


  • Entries must be submitted in event-supplied presentation containers unless otherwise stipulated.
  • A minimum of six, separate, identifiable food portions must be submitted.
  • In the case of chopped or pulled meat, there needs to be a sufficient amount for each judge to take a sample.
  • Teams may submit more than the minimum six portions.
    Meat may be presented in more than one style.


  • Meat entries must not be sauced.
  • Teams may turn in one sauce per category “on-the-side” in event-supplied containers.


  • Sauced meat.
  • Garnish.
  • Marking or sculpting of food that could identify the cook/team.
  • Identifying or distinguishing marks placed in or on the container by the contestant.

Judging Methods

Association JUDGING

  • Our Association uses two judging methods – a double-blind judging system and an on-site judging system.
  • For its competitions, the Association uses trained judges who ensure the objective evaluation of entries, in accordance with Association guidelines.


  • Entries are given ID numbers as they are turned-in.
  • ID numbers have no correlation to the contestants’ identities or the contestants’ event team numbers.


  • Each cook team is visited by three on-site judges.
  • The team will present their meat entries to the judges.

Elements of Evaluation


Evaluating overall flavor of entry, based on judges’ sample bites, to reflect pleasant taste, balance of meat/smoke/seasonings, etc., or taste faults (salty, burned, etc.) without sauce (if entered)..

Evaluating meat’s texture, based on judges’ sample bites, to reflect tender, chewy, though, moist, dry, mushy, etc.

Evaluating the overall impression of entry, based on judges’ combined impression of appearance, tenderness/texture, presentation (for on-site), and taste with and without sauce (if entered).

Scoring Range




8 7 6 5 4 3 2


MEANS: Outstanding Great Good Slightly Above Average Average, OK Slightly Below Average Faulted Significantly Faulted Awful, Inedible

Technical DQ*

*Only given by an Association Marshall

Scoring System


  • Each blind entry is evaluated at a table of six judges. On-site judging is conducted by a group of three judges.
  • Each judge provides scores for the four elements of appearance, tenderness/texture, taste, and overall impression. A judge’s score is the total of his/her points given for all four elements.
  • The scoring range for each element is 10 points (highest) to 2 points (lowest).
  • A score of 1 represents a disqualification and may only be given by the Association Marshall.


  • The total entry score is a combination of blind judging scores and on-site judging scores.
  • The total blind judging score is the total of the five highest blind judges’ scores; the lowest score is discarded.
  • The total on-site judging score is the total of the two highest on-site judges’ scores; the lowest score is discarded.
  • The scoring system weights the three evaluation elements –Taste (1.667 multiplier), Tenderness/Texture (1.333 multiplier), and
  • Overall Impression (1.000 multiplier).
  • The maximum possible score per judge is 40 points. The lowest judges’ scores in both blind and on-site judging are discarded, thus the highest possible total entry score is 200 points (40 points x 7 judges = 280 points).


  • Places are determined by the order of judging points.
  • The entry with the highest total points will take 1st place for that category, second highest number of points takes 2nd place, and so on.


If a tie occurs, the discarded low scores are added back, and places are determined in this order:

  1. The highest total points (appearance + tenderness/texture + taste + overall impression) from all nine judges.
  2. The highest total points of taste scores from all nine judges.
  3. The highest total points of tenderness/texture scores from all nine judges.
  4. The highest total points of overall impression scores from all nine judges.
  5. This highest total points of appearance scores from all nine judges.
  6. Decided by a random draw agreed supervised by the Association Marshall.


  • Grand Champion is awarded the Category Champion with the highest score.
  • In case of ties for Grand Champion, ties will be broken using the same process as used for breaking category ties.

Authentic. Traditional. Real.