The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 9, 2013

Judgin' barbecue: Class is lead-up to 2013 Roberts Ranch Smokin’ Red Dirt BBQ

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The first event leading up to the 2013 Roberts Ranch Smokin’ Red Dirt BBQ was the Kansas City Barbeque Society certified BBQ judging class Saturday on the campus of Northern Oklahoma College Enid.

Merl Whitebook, KCBS certified master judge, and his wife, Carol Whitebook, came from Bartlesville to teach the class to the 29 would-be judges who enrolled for it.

Enid Noon AMBUCS members prepared the meat class members would sample and judge during the class. AMBUCS members Dalen McVay, Drew Ewbank and Rob Bullis set up the grills outside Gantz Student Center at 10 p.m. Friday.

“We cook a lot with the members of the club,” McVay said.

During class, Whitebook told participants everything they need to know about how to judge barbecue for a KCBS-sanctioned contest. Everything must be up to par, including how the meat is presented.

“Sauce is optional,” Whitebook said. “If sauce is added, it must be applied directly to the meat. It cannot be pooled or puddled in the container.”

He explained that if the sauce runs down from the meat and puddles in the container, that is not a mark against the score.

“Each contestant must submit a minimum of six portions of meat in an approved container,” Whitebook said.

He pointed out the meat should be proportional to the box, neither six tiny pieces of meat nor an overstuffed box.

During contests, care is taken to ensure the anonymity of the cooks, Whitebook said.

“I will not tell you whose boxes you have,” Whitebook said.

He added the society has a rule against judges fraternizing with cooks.

“You have to stay out of the cooking area, or you have to just not look?” one class member asked.

“You have to stay out,” Whitebook answered. “Sometimes you have to walk through a portion of it, but if it’s possible, just stay away.”

Once class members are certified as judges, they can look up upcoming barbecue contests and contact the sponsors to offer their services as judges.

It takes 86 to 90 folks — anywhere up to 100 — to judge the Smokin’ Red Dirt BBQ,” said Lynn Benkendorf, marketing coordinator for Eagle Marketing.

Eagle Marketing is a co-sponsor of the Smokin’ Red Dirt BBQ. There will be $13,000 in prize money up for grabs at this year’s event, slated April 19-20.

The two-day event will feature not only great food, but also music, art and other fun events for children and adults.