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Here come the judge(s)

Memphis in May

It’s barbecue time!

The streets of downtown Memphis are filled with the delicious aroma of smoky barbecue wafting up from the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Contest. For an insider look at the judging process, I called Michelle O’Guin, Chair of Barbecue Judging for Memphis in May.


First and foremost, when does the judging training process begin?


“Judges are trained and certified through the Memphis in May training program that happens every November.”


And who can apply?


“Anybody can apply if they just like to eat some good barbecue.”


“There are two types of judging in Memphis in May BBQ. There is on-site and there is blind judging. During on-site judging the judges will actually go to each team that they are assigned to go to and listen to their presentation and sample their meat there. In the blind area, the judges are seated at a table and they don’t know what teams that they are judging.”


And what are the judges looking for?


“The three criteria that are factoring into both on-site and blind judging are appearance of entry, tenderness of entry, and flavor of entry.”


“The two extra criteria for on-site judging are area and personal appearance and presentation.”


How many judges does it take to judge a World Championship Barbecue Contest?


“On average we have approximately 285 judges per year judging the total 245 teams in the park. Judges that get judge both on-site and blind in a day, which happens often, will get to judge up to almost 9 different teams in a day.”


Judging sign-ups begin in August, I may just have to visit Memphis in May’s website to sign up for next year!


This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. May the best team win!





Jennifer Chandler graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris at the top of her class. She is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks.