Madison Ribberfest Pro Division
KCBS judges take
their job seriously
Dentin enjoy tasting, camaraderie
MADISON, Ind. (Aug. 12, 2005) When the power
went out at Lee Ezmans home in Louisville two years ago, he and
wife, June, decided to drive to a barbecue cook-off in La Grange, Ky.,
rather than sit around in the dark. The Ezmans toured the contest, meeting
judges and teams and, of course, eating barbecue. Lee was so impressed
that he decided to become a Kansas City Bareque Society-certified judge
and take part in area cook-offs.
judges Jim Dentin (center with hat)
and Lee Ezman (second from right)
examine an entry.
To judge at a KCBS-sanctioned contest, one must attend
a half-day class presented by the organization. The classes, which cost
$30, are scheduled at various locations around the country throughout
the spring and summer. Ribberfest organizers brought KCBS representatives
to town in April to hold a class. Ezman drove to Illinois one weekend
to attend a class.
Judges learn contest protocol and the KCBS rating system each
dish is rated on appearance, tenderness-texture and taste on a scale
of two through nine, with nine being the highest possible rating. A
score of one is a disqualification. Contests require a ratio of one
judge per competing team. Judges are seated at tables of six, with one
designated as the table captain.
by Don Ward
captain Richard Schmidt shows an
entry to a table of KCBS judges.
Each judge receives a small portion from every contestant.
To ensure fairness, the samples are judged blind and marked only with
teams assigned numbers.
The rules are very clear, said Ezman. If a team sends
their entry to a table and the six pieces arent completely separated,
they get a score of one.
Ultimately, how an individual rates a piece of meat is subjective, but
much of the class is spent sampling meats and learning tips on judging.
The teachers are master cookers, so theyve got a lot of
experience from both sides," Ezman said. "You get a lot of
clues, like if a piece of meat is rubbery, its undercooked and
probably gets a lower score.
After completing the class, judges must pay annual dues of $35 to join
Judging seems to be a win-win situation for organizers and judges alike.
These are people who just love to judge. They come from all over
the Midwest and dont get a dime for it, said pro division
cook-off co-chair Shawn Auxier.
Ezman, a sales consultant, now judges four or five events contests each
year in Kentucky and Tennessee. This will be his second Ribberfest.
Ezman said he enjoys the privilege of sampling the finest portions of
barbecue by professional cookers.
These teams dont hold anything back," he said. "They
come to win, so they send their best to the judges. Before I started
judging, I thought I was getting good barbecue at restaurants in Memphis.
For more information or to order tickets, call
the Madison Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-559-2956
or visit: www.madisonribberfest.com.
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