One of my BBQ friends recently announced that he “wasn’t gonna change anything” after a disappointing showing at the Westmont Red, White & BBQ competition. Smoke Freaks were equally perplexed with our results from that event, as we had one of our best ever cooks, only to be nearly shut out at awards.
When something that’s always worked stops working, it really starts to get under your skin.
It makes you stop and think about whether it’s time to make an adjustment or whether to just hang in there through the rough patch, knowing (hoping) it will eventually turn around. It’s hard to know exactly when to make that pivot since judging has inherent subjective aspects (like “taste”) and you hit new judges each week.
And how do you ever know what the right answer is?
I’ve heard of a general rule to give it at least 3 cooks before you make changes, and then start with one change at a time. Others stay the course and continue to do what they do best. And some take on bigger risks with larger scale changes.
We’re facing that crossroads with pork this year. We had an early call at the beginning of the season and are cooking better than ever before, yet our scores aren’t what we want them to be. And that’s true even since before I became the pork cook.
We’re getting pretty tired of the status quo, so we’ve started to make some adjustments to pork. The first was a flavor element last weekend that carries into this weekend’s debut of some new Freakage at the Heritage Days BBQ Showdown in Belvidere, IL.