You might be a competition pitmaster if …

August 31st, 201428 Comments


Once you have a few years of competition cooking under your belt, you’ll notice that you’ve developed some unusual habits. That is, these behaviors will seem normal to you but very odd to your family and friends. Here’s a list of things that Donna and I will do without a second thought that cause others to go “Hmm . .  .”

The list is pretty long so there are several parts. If you can relate to more than half of this checklist, then consider yourself a seasoned pitmaster!  Feel free to comment on other peculiar pitmaster behaviors you’ve caught yourself doing.

You might be a competition pitmaster if … (Part 7)


  1. You perform the floppy test when buying briskets
  2. You have as many descriptions color and type of animal fat as Eskimos have for snow
  3. You have studied the 4 different and conflicting US agency standards for recommended cooked chicken temps
  4. You know what weight range your favorite meat packing companies pack their meats
  5. You can tell if your brisket was grass or corn fed from the color of the fat on the deckle
  6. You know that Series 300 of the USDA manual is about pork specification
  7. You find it awkward as you don’t know what to say when you’re around vegetarians
  8. You have special tools for making KCBS turn-in boxes
  9. You pick left-handed brisket because it’s rumored they are more tender
  10. You prefer the smell of your pit over your spouse

 You might be a competition pitmaster if … (Part 6)


  1. You memorized the Thermal Death Curves of major meat pathogens such as Salmonella
  2. Though it pains you, you don’t think it is a waste of time to spend hours arranging lettuce and parsley in a Styrofoam box.
  3. You flop-test your briskets in the store meat section
  4. You use “meet” and “meat” interchangeably
  5. You have special tools and accessories used to make your turn-in Styrofoam boxes.
  6. You know she’s the one for you when she said,” You had me at bacon”
  7. You can tell from the color of the fat whether the animal is grass or grain fed
  8. You swear your smokers have personalities and tendencies (runs cold, hot, etc.)
  9. You have various sizes and lengths of hypodermic needles (#10, #12, #14)
  10. You own a large meat vacuum tumbler


 You might be a competition pitmaster if … (Part 5)



  1. You own multiple very expensive thermometers for all types of measurements
  2. Your roll of aluminum foil is too big to fit inside your kitchen drawer
  3. Your co-workers watch your contest calendar and bring Tupperware for Meat Mondays
  4. You own your own vacuum sealer
  5. Your spouse can touch anything except your barbecue knives
  6. You think one brand of apple juice, hot sauce, ketchup, or vinegar is better than all the rest
  7. You think grass fed beef is for hippies
  8. You have several knife sharpening systems which you no longer use
  9. You have your own special knife sharpening guy
  10. You own an Igloo that can fit your dog


You might be a competition pitmaster if …(Part 4)

Pitmaster's "Devil Meat"

Pitmaster’s “Devil Meat”


  1. You call chicken the “devil meat” because it’s difficult and time-consuming to trim.
  2. You scare your vegetarian friends with bacon wrapped asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms.
  3. You know she’s the one for you when she said, “You had me at “barbecue.”
  4. You know she’s NOT the one when she said,” I’m Vegetarian.”
  5. You think of Home Dept as a BBQ supply store.
  6. At the Zoo, you wonder how each animal tastes BBQ-ed.
  7. Same thing at the Aquarium.
  8. You know at least 9 ways to spell barbecue (barbecue, barbeque, barbique, Bar-B-Q, BBQ, Bar-B-Que, Barbie, Bar-Bique, Bar-B-Cue).
  9. You have pet names for each of your smokers.
  10. You cringe when you see any kind of pre-marinated meats when grocery shopping.


You might be a competition pitmaster if …(Part 3)



  1. You’ve had the mangled wreck of what remained of your canopy after the gusting wind was done with it.
  2. You’ve bought an entire of case of parsley at Restaurant Depot for a contest.
  3. You’ve cooked in some other place and wondered if you needed to change your “profile”.
  4. You’ve survived a grease fire in your pit and still have hair on your forearms.
  5. You’ve heard the story of the pitmaster who set his vehicle on fire driving down the freeway because the vehicle carpet caught fire from the heat of the residual coals in his ash can.
  6. You’ve seen the shower water turn brown in your first bath after a two day back-to-back contest weekend.
  7. You’ve been DQed at a contest for a foreign object found in your box.
  8. There’s a “BBQ” sticker(s) on your car.
  9. You buy vehicles that have room to transport your smokers and not based on your family’s needs.
  10. You catered the barbecue reception for your son’s or daughter’s wedding.


You might be a competition pitmaster if …(Part 2)



  1. You’ve put your small child into a grill or smoker and taken a photo and thought it was cute.
  2. You can’t stop buying smokers, sauces, rubs and BBQ gadgets.
  3. Your family only buys BBQ stuff for your birthday and for Christmas.
  4. You never eat at BBQ joints anymore and neither does your family and friends.
  5. You dream of going to Austin and eating at Franklin’s.
  6. You have a second refrigerator just for BBQ.
  7. You track meat prices, gas prices and charcoal prices by the pound.
  8. You cringe whenever anyone says “falling off the bone”.
  9. You dream of owning a BBQ restaurant or catering business.
  10. You want to start your own line of rubs and sauces


You might be a competition pitmaster if . . . (Part 1)




  1. You always visit the meat section in a supermarket, even if you aren’t buying meat.
  2. All of your friends know you hate it when they confuse grilling and real barbecuing.
  3. Your kids are tired of eating your next experiment in BBQ.
  4. You have more BBQ tee shirts than any other kind of tees.
  5. You have a designated area in your garage for charcoal.
  6. You brag on Facebook about how many bags of charcoal you bought on sale for Memorial or Labor Day.
  7. You know the target weight of your trimmed chicken thighs.
  8. You distrust pre-cut St. Louis ribs because you know how to trim ribs better than a professional butcher.
  9. You’ve used a hammer and screwdriver to remove bark from your wood chunks.
  10. You plan your vacations around BBQ contests.

28 comments... read them below or add one

  1. Shawn Westerhoff says:

    Are you supposed to take the bark off your wood? What is the benefit of doing this?

    • Harry Soo says:

      Some pitmasters prefer no bark on their flavoring wood chunks. I remove the bark if it’s covered with moss, gunk, or fungus. If the bark looks thin and clean, I don’t bother

  2. Rick Rogers says:

    You have every BBQ gadget known to man, including a few you "invented" yourself.

    • Harry Soo says:

      Awesome Rick. We pitmasters certainly like our toys! Feel free to post some crazy ones on SYD Facebook!

  3. Jim Highfill says:

    You have taken over the spice cabinet and the counter with dry rub "experiments", leaving no room for regular spices.

  4. So True. Made me laugh.

  5. Eddie Lutfi says:

    LOL! So true.

  6. Jeff Richardson says:

    You start hoping a new charcoal sale is coming when you get down to only a 400 lb of supply left

  7. Your clothes smell like smoke…after you wash them.

  8. Ed Pitts says:

    I not only have a refrigerator just for BBQ, I have a house for the smoker, refrigerator and big supply of charcoal and wood. Don’t know how to post pictures.

  9. David Adams says:

    Everything you make is awesome, The rest you call "Burnt Ends"

  10. Andy Chubb says:

    You scream at any man woman or child that opens your cooker.And then freaking out when asked(What’s the big deal).

  11. Orrie Griswold (Bakersfield Smoke) says:

    You describe the grime that has built up inside of your pit as "Love"

  12. Orrie Griswold (Bakersfield Smoke) says:

    You see Niel Strawder on a T.V. commercial and tell your friends "I beat him one time in Pork" but never mention the 30 times he beat you.

  13. Orrie Griswold (Bakersfield Smoke) says:

    LoL, You might be a Pitmaster if you are reading Harry Soo’s "You Might Be a Pismaster If" forum and making comments on it.

  14. Here Honey, close you eyes and taste this…..

  15. rocky deanda says:

    are you having any BBQ seminars in Houston?
    it’s always good to learn techniques from every corner of this nation!! keep on smoking !!!

  16. David Adams says:

    You might be a Competition Pitmaster if… You personaly scrape chicken skins cuz it’s to disgusting to pass off on your team mates 🙂

  17. Johnny P says:

    I’m not even a competition pitmaster and I probably qualify for half of these! However, I can’t say that I have ever constructed a rub as good as one of yours Harry! Your Slap Yo Daddy rubs are the best in my book! As for the list, I loved the zoo and aquarium ones…

  18. Drew says:

    If you buy all of your ingredients at several different stores so nobody can figure out exactly what you’re doing.

  19. JGT says:

    Harry I am Out law jerky, Ihave two commercial dehydrators and 4 smaller ones,but , no commercial kitchen (bummer)Iam also the SALSA KIng 2yrs running in local competition,My next endeavor is BBQ in which I rate myself as ( Fair) Hope to make one of yourclasses in Cali from Az. Iam just finishing a book (Wiley’s championship BBQ) by Wiley Mccrary,Have youseen it ,If so (opinion) THX, JGT

    • Harry Soo says:

      Hey JGT,
      Got the book for Fathers Day. Have not read it yet but it seems interesting.
      Hope to see you in one of my classes these days!

  20. You have more commercial cooking equipment in your home than most restaurants do.

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