FBA News

FBA Board of Directors Meeting – February 2017

Florida BBQ Association

Board of Directors Meeting

February 27, 2017 at 8:00 PM


Present: Jim Elser, Ben Purvis, Steve Brumm, Matt Barber

Absent: Kevin French, Robin Yelverton

Recorder: Connie Washam

Guests: Tim Giebeig, Louis Goldman, Kitty Vierbickas, Lee Thompson Vic Vierbickas, Chris Cannon., Alison Strachan, Quintrel Carr,

Call to Order: Meeting called to order at 8:05


Approve Minutes for January 2016  Steve Brumm, Matt 2nd  minutes approved.


Business conducted by email

Kevin French made a motion to approve the Odessa BBQ Contest.  Connie Washam 2nd and the motion was approved unanimously.


Connie Washam made a motion that Bob Youngblood be approved to replace Lorne Brumm at the Haines City contest February 24-25.  Kevin French 2nd the motion.

Ben Purvis – Yes


From Denis Schmitz , Lead Rep for the National AG Week contest in Crystal River, “I have just concluded a telephone call with Ricky Burts, the Organizer for this event.  His major sponsor who committed to funding the costs for the event has dropped him cold.  They had a change in management, and the new regime has left him high and dry.

This sponsor was the catalyst for holding this event and they have backed out without warning.  Ricky does not want to cancel the contest, but has no ability to find a sponsor this late in the game to take the place of the one who left him in this spot.  He does not have a lot of overhead and can still put on the event, but in order to do so will have to cover the prize money from team registration fees.  He currently has 23 Pro teams registered, and 3 BY.  I believe he may get a couple teams after the Haines City and Eagle Lake events.  He is willing to put on the event, if he can drop the payout to the FBA minimum of $8,000.  He will offer to refund registration fees to those teams that have paid since the parameters have changed.   I would suggest the BY contest be dropped as an FBA portion, because of minimum participation, and save costs.  It can still happen to get the revenue, but not with FBA participation.  Ricky has stated that he will work toward sanctioning again next year, with a full year to guarantee success.  Ricky is a first time Organizer, an FBA member,  who truly believed his sponsor would come through with the promises made.

Please consider giving him an opportunity to carry on and grow to be a successful FBA event.”

Thank you,  Dennis Schmitz, FBA Lead Rep


Connie Washam made a motion to allow a change in the sanctioning agreement to lower the National AG Week BBQ contest payout be lowered from $1500. To $8,000.  Kevin French 2nd.

The motion carried unanimously


Ricky Burts Wrote, “After looking at everything over the weekend, I have decided to cancel the event.  I sincerely appreciate your help in trying to resolve the event.  I am planning on having the event the following year with a partnership with a local youth organization.  I will be emailing the teams that have paid and refunding the entry fees.  I hate that this is the option since I had a great turn out with teams. Within the following year I plan on becoming highly involved with the FBA and also possibly cooking at the competition’s.”


Connie Washam made a motion that due to the cancellation of The National AG Week BBQ contest in Crystal River, by its organizer, Ricky Burts Jr., that we allow the non refundable $75.00, already paid, be applied toward a new sanctioning agreement he plans to submit for 2018.  Robin Yelverton 2nd.

Matt Barber – Yes        Kevin French – Yes      Steve Brumm – Yes


Financial ReportRobin Yelverton

PNC – $19,650.40

PayPal – $5,848.39

Total $25,498.79


BBQ Scores paid up through March. A few rep checks still need to clear.


Membership ReportConnie Washam


781 total members which include Individual, Family, LIFE, Organizer, Restaurant and Corporate.

New members

Individual: James Rhoden, Greg Rhoden, Melissa Gibbs, David Castle, Marc Tanner, Kyle Clyne

Organizer: James P. Mitzel

Restaurant: Daniel Hernandez, Holy Hog BBQ


Get well card sent to Patti DiStasio

Condolence card sent to Pam Giebeig.


Consent Agenda – President

Approve the following Reps for the contests below

Cocoa – Dennis Schmitz, Bob Youngblood and Gary Washam

Davenport – Gary & Connie Washam, Jim Dehne

Odessa – Gary & Connie Washam, Jim

Mulberry – Sheilah & Frank Jones, Jim Dehne, and Bob Youngblood

Perry – Dennis Schmitz, Kevin French, Lori Frazee

Connie Washam made a motion to approve the consent agenda.  Steve Brumm 2nd

The motion carried


Cook Teams – Ben Purvis: It is my hope that our judges go to a contest with a positive mind set. Ideally they arrive in a great mood because they are going to get to eat some fantastic food that the pit masters have been working for up to 24 hours to get just right.  We need positive thinking judges rather than those just trying to find flaws, even if they don’t affect tenderness, taste, or appearance. Celebrate the good.


Taste; Taste should be pleasing and represent the meat that it is, because each meat has its own distinctive flavor; Brisket should taste like beef etc.  The spices, rubs or sauces used should be flavor balanced so that they only complements as opposed to overwhelms the meat presented.  There should be no overpowering flavor of spices or sauce.


Tenderness;  Avoid using any tenderness indicators that may have been viewed on Television BBQ shows and then shared in the judges tent.  Such as the fold test with Brisket or that the bone will turn white after biting the rib.  These expectations are nonsense and have little to do with tenderness.   Focus on the sample at hand and whether it has a pleasant eating experience.  Keep in mind, You are judging what is presented as opposed to what you think should be presented.


Chicken: sample the entry as presented.  Leave the skin in place, removing it will significantly alter the flavor and tenderness the pit master intended.  Take a bite, there is no need to dissect it.  The skin should bite through easily and the rest of the skin should still be in place.  The chicken meat should release easily from the sample and should have a tender and pleasant mouth feel as well.  If it is chewy, rubbery, or mushy/too soft it is either undercooked or overcooked.  Tenderness should be based on mouth feel and the chewing experience.


Ribs: Your bite should be from the middle of the rib and deep enough that your teeth gently come in contact with the bone.  Avoid biting the bone but bite to the boneThe meat should release cleanly and easily from the bone, and there should be a relatively clean outline of where your bite was removed from the rest of the meat.  The rest of the rib meat should still be attached to the bone.  The mouth feel and chew should be a pleasant experience.


Pork: Pork should be tender but mushy is undesirable.  If Medallions are presented take a bite to check for tenderness.  There should be no tugging required.  Medallions, chunks, pulled or sliced should have somebody and maintain its integrity but at the same time easy to chew.  Your senses will let you know if it was tender as opposed to mushy and unpleasant  If  ‘bark’ is presented, and it is optional, there is a different guideline for tenderness.


Bark is the dark crust on the exterior of the pork butt.  It is acceptable for bark to be considerably more chewy than the interior meat.  Good bark can be a chewy flavor bomb in your mouth.  Understand what it is and how different it is than the interior meat.  No entry should be judged down because the bark is chewy and has a concentration of flavor.  On the other hand if you are unable to chew it and the flavor is bitter or too extreme judge it accordingly.


Brisket: Brisket is typically presented as slices, burnt ends, pulled and/or chunked.  The accepted standard thickness for slices is roughly that of a pencil thickness.  you should be able to gently pick up the slice from the box and it should stay together as one piece.  It should be limp and hang mostly straight down when held by one end.  A simple pull test can be an indicator for slice tenderness.  Hold an end of the slice in each hand and gently pull until the slice parts.  If it separates before you pull it is likely, too tender (over cooked).  If it takes more tugging it is likely a little too tough (under cooked).  Take a bite, and let your mouth decide.  your first mouth feel impression will guide you.  Does it maintain its body and have a tender chew?  Does it maintain its body and take a little longer or more effort to chew?  Do you have to pull the bite away from the slice with some effort, Is it is undercooked.  The level of effort will determine the level of doneness.

Burnt ends are a optional. If ‘burnt ends’ are presented,  they should be a tender, smoky and meaty bite size piece of the brisket.  There is no size standard for burnt ends.  Burnt ends come from the fattier part of the brisket and will be very juicy.  The juiciness comes from intramuscular fat that is rendered down.  They will be tender and offer little to no resistance when chewing.  “Melt in your mouth” is desirable as opposed to mushy or tough.   However if you feel unpleasant chunks or globs of un-melted fat in your mouth after chewing, those can be undesirable and be judged accordingly.   Remember you are judging what is presented,  not what you think should be presented!


Steve Brumm made a motion to approve the taste and tenderness as written above. Connie Washam 2nd.  the motion carried.

Steve will work on rewriting the judges manual but may take some time.


Judges – Louis Goldman: These are some of the items that our committee is, and will be, working on:


  1.  The Judges Committee has reviewed the revised Taste and Tenderness write up by the Cook Team Committee. Generally, we feel like this is a very good start on a tough subject, however, we would like to have some remarks removed, some items added and others parts edited. A copy of our review has been sent to you by a separate email for your comments.


  1.  We will also be reviewing the issue of Judge of the Year. It appears like the existing criteria favors judges who live in the heartland and attend a majority of our contests in the central FL area. Another item is who knows what new judges are referred by existing judges. The process, unfortunately, appears to be a popularity contest
  • We would like to know if there is a great interest to continue the JOTY program
  • If so, we would like to review the criteria for the program.  (Possibly eliminate the Judge of the Year program)
  1.  Master Judge Program:
  • It would be hard to actually require judges to participate with a cook team by a certain number of contests judged. However we should recommend that judges who want to become MCBJ cook with a team by a certain number of contests.
  • Revue of the Master Judge Program Cook Team Participation form. Possibly add the number of hours spent with the cook team, the number of contests judged before the cook and comments by the head cook on their feeling about the quality of the judge.


  1.  “No Show” judges. This seems to be a consistent problem at almost every contest. Sometimes there are additional judges, not on the confirmed list, that will fill in. Sometimes the TCs do double duty. The Reps have done a good job handling this issue but our committee feels that FBA should take some positive steps to keep no shows to a minimum.
  • The Contest Organizer’s Manual, last updated in April, 2009, is silent concerning no shows. and also when the organizer gives the lead Rep the “registered judges” (?)  list. Also communication with the confirmed judges is not covered. This manual should also be updated.
  • A week before the contest, at a minimum, an email should be sent giving the lead Reps email address if a confirmed judge is not able to attend the contest.
  • Consider adding instructions to the Reps Manual. Reps should have the confirmed judges list and the emails should go directly to the lead Rep
  • Previously, our  committee offered the suggestion of a No Show List that could be shared with the Organizers before they pick their judges with the names staying on the list for a period of one year.
  • We would be very happy to work with the Reps Committee


  1.  Scoring. We took the starting point of 7.5 away and now just offer the scoring system. Most judges who have been judging for a period of time have developed their own system of how to score. It was difficult to decide what is average but we all know what excellent BBQ is – so for the judges manual and new judges should we suggest a idea of where to start? I personally want every box presented to me to be a 10 in all three categories and if it is not then I score down accordingly. This is much easier than determining if he box is average and then how much above or below average it is. I feel that this generates a much more accurate score which is what the cook teams are looking for.


All of the items above should be addressed in the Judges Manual. At the present time the FB doesn’t have any scheduled  Judges Training classes. It would be nice to have this accomplished before the next class. Please let me know if these are items that the BOD wants the Judges Committee to move forward on, if the BOD wants to add more items or would rather not move forward on some of them. And if we are going to rewrite the manual who will be doing the editing?


IT Committee – Gary Washam:

Following are significant IT Committee tasks worked and/or completed during the month of February 2017:


  • Website
    1. Updated Event Calendar with new events, updated information / event details
    2. Installed Sign-Up Sheets plugin for functional testing to support concept of FBA taking over judge signups. Compatibility problem with the current website theme was identified and analyzed with two web designers for possible solution.  Updating the plugin on the development site resolved the conflict and it is now fully functional as an alternative for handling judge registration for contests.
    3. Installed and tested caching plugin on development site to speed up website page reloads for more responsive website.  Will implement the cache on the production website.
    4. Ed Shemanski identified a picture compression plugin that may help speedup website loading.  Will be tested on the development site for compatibility issues before moving to the production site.
    5. Website dropped offline for part of one day due to security breakdown at Bluehost.  This affected Scorecard for Haines City on Friday before the contest, but the server was restored and tested by Will Cleaver before Saturday and the contest ran smoothly thereafter.
    6. Score results data disappeared from the new site for Apopka and Winter Haven.  Will Cleaver investigated the issue and restored the data from backups.  Believe the problem was associated with the Bluehost security breakdown and should not occur again.
    7. Began testing Member Press on the development website for functionality and conflicts, supported by Will Cleaver.  Made additional formatting changes to existing EXCEL membership database to enable importing it into Member Press.  Implementation of Member Press will require changing online registration process pages and links to PayPal.  Will also require software modifications to current judges contest tracking to access data from Member Press vice the current Google spreadsheet maintained by the Secretary.  Expect to do first membership import in next two weeks.
  • Scorecard
    1. No changes to core program operating from old website.
    2. All contests running smoothly with existing implementation.
    3. Reviewed table routing requirement with Will Cleaver to reduce cost for implementation.  Will Cleaver verbally offered to implement simplified approach for $750.
    4. Reviewed spreadsheet provided by Jim Elser related to table routing and provided feedback to Jim and Kevin regarding its merits or problems.
    5. Forwarded functional specifications for table routing and judge assignments to tables for Scorecard to BOD members as requested for review.  Received no feedback or comments.
    6. Get quotes for implementation of judge tracking and table assignment – no progress.
  • Code Audit
    1. No progress
  • REP Equipment
    1. No changes to REP equipment.
    2. Distributed new score cards to Lead REPS (all but Steve & Lorne) at Apopka contest.  Plan is to continue using existing inventory until depleted.
  • Misc
    1. Restaurant Depot contacted and process verified for all FBA members to shop there.  Just need each member to ask for temporary pass and identify themselves as member of FBA, provide FBA mailing address and phone number.  Restaurant Depot only provides 4 physical cards per organization and will not provide cards to each FBA member. IT committee will continue working on getting the membership database
    2. Researched the issue of FBA assuming responsibility for registering judges for future contests, including inputs from Ed Shemanski functional analysis.  Explored three online tools (Eventbrite, JudgeBBQ.com and SignUp Sheets) to support this and developed overall analysis and comparison of the three options and presented to BOD and REPS for review.


New Contest Liaison – Dennis Schmitz

No news from any of the contacts previously listed as possible new events.


I had one positive contact, in Charlotte county, who absolutely wanted to sanction, but it was within 200 miles of Tavares and he could not change dates for this year.  He will try to find an open date for next year and contact us again.


Jim Elser provided a contact in Gainesville today, will get with him.


Not a new contest, but I have been told Valdosta has sent in request to sanction for 2017.


University of Florida has again asked for assistance with their wing contest before the spring game and we will help again.  Still not interested in sanctioning.


**With the recent loss of Crystal River, perhaps we need to add a statement somewhere in the sanctioning agreement that they have read the Organizer’s Manual and understand the time lines required to conduct a sanctioned event.  And it might be a good idea to require sanctioning fees be paid before the event goes on our calendar.


Rep Committee –  Dennis Schmitz and Lorne Brumm

No Report

Marketing Committee – Matt Barber

Working on the new promotional brochure which will include a membership application to just cut off and mail in.

putting a post on the FB page to solicit more marketing committee members.  hope to have something for approval by the next board meeting.

Old Business – President

  1. Request the Cook’s Committee and the Judge’s Committee to finish reviewing the judges’ handbook and update the definitions and criteria for judging tenderness and appearance. (see below)
  2. Status of Rep manual rewrite by Rep Committee.
  3. Membership Cards, Benefits.
  4. Turn in boxes table placement

*Connie Washam made a motion based on the quote from Will Cleaver of $750.

Steve Brumm would like to see exactly what all is included in the proposal. Gary Washam will write up exactly what will be included in the monies we will outlay for this addition to ScoreCard.  *Motion was tabled the motion until then.


  1. Fun Cook – date, location, organizers, new ideas (no action can be taken at this time)


New Business

  1. Sonny’s Showdown Invitational 2018 Judges

Last year we voted to accept non FBA non certified judges.  A short judges seminar was presented.  4 FBA judges and then two judges from other organizations.  Many of those invited judges were also Charter members of the FBA.

Steve Brumm made a motion to accept the same judge placement (4 FBA judges and 2 invited judges from other sanctioning organizations) as was done at the Sonny’s invitational last year.  Connie Washam 2nd.  Motion has carried.


  1. FBA handling the selection of judges. There is not one set way for this to be handled.

Steve Brumm made a motion that we authorize Gary to test a new judges application system at a contest.  Ben Purvis 2nd.


Jim Dehne as a contest representative, would not have the time to organize the judges selection for a contest he was assigned to.

Vic Vierbickas: likes the idea for FBA to automate the judges selection.  he has already been approved for Tavares, Cocoa, if we were to go with a list like this would it be a first come first serve.

Marty Hyde: Likes the new taste and tenderness but believes at a contest the judges are zoned out, best to make a 20 minute power point presentation.  maybe will get their attention.

Judge selection is the weakest link in the FBA right now.  Look out past Tavares and Cocoa.

Jim Frazee: on the selection of judges it’s not just a computer program need more thought.  Organizers already have judges selected.


  1. Score Packets, paperless. possibly email the contest results to the participating teams. Most teams like a hard copy to dissect.  It is possible to post the results quickly but right now we are running scorecard on the old website.  but as soon as we move the entire scorecard on the new site, it’ll take about an hour to post after awards.  Until we figure out a timely alternative, FBA will continue to print out the score packets. 


  1. Requirements to hold a FBA State Championship: Jim Elser will put some thoughts together and requests that board members do the same and send out to the BOD. We will revisit this next month.


**Matt Barber would like the marketing committee to review the Contest Organizers manual.  It has been several years since its last update.


Comments from members:

Marty Hyde: GBA handles all their judge selection.  A notice of the application window is sent out to the judges.


Next BOD meeting March 27, 2017 8:00 PM


Call in number 1-712-451-0294   Access Code: 184732


The meeting adjourned at 9:30 PM