Most KCBS competitors prefer to cook chicken thighs, bone-in. You are allowed to use any part of the chicken, however, as long as you include a minimum of 6 servings of that item. It is customary to turn in chicken with skin-on, although it is not mandatory to do so.

Source: any grocery store.


Most KCBS competitors turn-in St. Louis-style ribs. These are pork spare ribs that have had the brisket bone removed (aka rib tips), leaving a neat-looking rack of ribs. Baby back ribs are another option…there is no right or wrong. For the purpose of this contest, you may choose to cook what you feel most confident with, or what you simply prefer to eat yourself….it’s personal preference. Ribs must be on the bone…you may not turn in “country-style” ribs. As with all turn-in categories, you must include a minimum of 6 portions so that each judge has a taste of your meats. You may turn in more if you like.

Source: Sam’s Club, Costco, Smart & Finale, Restaurant Depot, grocery store.


Tri-tip is not one of the four meats sanctioned by and turned in at a KCBS contest. For the purpose of this “backyard” contest, it has been included as one of the meats because of its short cook time. Tri-tip is not necessarily a meat familiar to even professional cook teams, so if you have any questions about how to cook a tri-tip, feel free to contact Harry, Donna, or Ira for some helpful hints.

Source: any grocery store. If you want the same tri tip that Harry used to win 1st place in the tri tip championship in Santa Maria in 2009, you can contact John Fueling from the Corner Butcher Shop, 2359 Foothill Blvd., La Verne | (909) 596-6345 | Open: Mon-Fri: 11 AM to 7:30 PM ~ Sat-Sun: 11 AM to 6 PM


Rubs and Sauces

One of the challenges that new competitors face is learning about flavor profiles that are pleasing to judges. Taste is subjective, even with judges. Some prefer a sweeter rib, for example, while others may prefer a rib that is more savory or that has a bit more kick. What you are striving for is balance. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to experiment. There are literally thousands of possible dry rub/sauce combinations, so it is very difficult to advise. Many, if not all of you competing in this contest have taken Harry’s class, and therefore have a great rub recipe to at the very least use as a reference point. You can modify any recipe to suit your taste. Many professional competition teams are generous with regard to divulging what some of their favorite products are. If you like, you can research this online and find these items for purchase online as well.


You will need to get your own garnish.  Be sure to bring 1 head of romaine lettuce and 4 bunches of parsley.  I will show you how I make my Slap Yo Daddy Lazyman box after the cooks meeting.

Gear Checklist

There are many items competitors quickly learn are essential to have at contests. Some of the things you want to have on hand are:

  1. Disposable, powder-free, latex gloves (Costco, Sam’s Club, Smart & Finale, Restaurant Depot, online)
  2. Disposable aluminum pans…both half-pan size and full-pan size (Costco, Sam’s Club, Smart & Final, Restaurant Depot
  3. Charcoal
  4. Charcoal chimney starter
  5. Wood (The Woodshed, Orange County, The Home Depot, Online… Fruita Wood or Baxter’s)
  6. Cutting Board(s) (disposable cutting boards are great and widely used at competitions. You can find them online… just Google)
  7. Folding tables
  8. Utensils (knives, tongs, whisks, pots, pans, etc.)
  9. Propane cook top…for heating au jus, sauces, etc. (Smart &Finale, Restaurant Depot)
  10. Collapsible trash cans (The Home Depot, Harbor Freight, online)
  11. Trash bags
  12. Drinking Water
  13. Food to eat/snacks
  14. Rubs/Sauces
  15. Butane torch to light pit. (There are small, hand-held butane torches available at The Home Depot; There are also bigger ones known as ‘weed burners’, which affix to 20lb propane tanks…available at Harbor Freight and elsewhere)
  16. Paper towels (lots)
  17. Spray bottles for meat
  18. Spray Cleansers
  19. Heavy duty aluminum foil
  20. Welders gloves or the like for handling a hot bbq pit
  21. Portable generator/power source (none provided at this contest)
  22. Instant read thermometer (Thermapen is the gold standard)
  23. Notepad or clipboard (Most successful teams take copious notes throughout their cook. This is good policy and can prove quite helpful in the long run).
  24. Writing utensil
  25. Clock or accurate timepiece. In a sanctioned contest, you want to be VERY cognizant of the time. If you’re even a fraction of a second late to turn in your entry, you’ll be turned away.
  26. Cell phone charger
  27. Cooler(s)
  28. Ice
  29. Canopy
  30. Canopy weights as tie-downs
  31. Injections/injector
  32. Fire extinguisher


Note: There may be children present at this event. We want them to feel welcomed and to have a great time. It’s important to keep their safety at the forefront of our minds. Please be sure to keep them safe from hot pits, smokers, grills, coals, etc. Common sense applies but it bears mentioning as many of the teams have not yet competed and it’s easy to get distracted in the course of competing. Keep an eye on the kids…we don’t want any unhappy campers…just happy ones with full tummies!

Note: Just about everything you need to compete, aside from meat, is available on Harry’s website.

Note: Although this is an informal contest…non-sanctioned and geared more towards learning and having fun, you might still want to familiarize yourself with what could get your entry disqualified if this were, in fact, a sanctioned KCBS event. Some of these things would include garnish not allowed by KCBS, too-raw meat, pooled sauce inside the box, foreign objects (such as particles of foil, a stray brush hair, a piece of paper, etc.) If you’d like to familiarize yourself with KCBS Rules and Regulations, here is a link to the 2013 version: KCBS 2013 Rules

6 Comments on “Backyard Equipment Checklist”

  1. Harry I took your class in August and you had showed us a knife sharpener and I was wondering what the brand is?

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