Tuesday May 29, 2012 | 01:28 PM

Cabela's hosted a BBQ cook-off this past weekend and I was lucky enough to be a judge. I had never been a judge at a taste-testing like this one so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. It was fun and I ate some amazing barbecue! But, I also learned a few things about judging a barbecue cook-off..

• Judging is not as easy as it looks. Yeah, it's fun to take a bite of some really good barbecue. But because everything is so good, you have to get critical before writing down a score even when you're eating something you think is delicious. My score card required a numeric score for three aspects of each entry – appearance, taste and tenderness. Many entries received high marks from me.

• Ask ahead of time how many teams you'll be judging. Cabela's had 13 teams and there were 6 rounds of different meat to taste. Even with only taking a single bite of each entry adds up to a heck of a lot of meat consumed by each judge (13 x 6 = 78 bites). Which leads me to the next learning....

• Don't eat breakfast before judging a barbecue contest! I felt more than a little overly stuffed by the last round of judging. I am not exaggerating when I say that I didn't eat solid food again until lunch the next day.

• You learn some really interesting nuances of barbecue you might not otherwise notice. It was explained to the judges before the contest began that every bite should have, "a beginning, middle and end." Once you pay close attention to the "three" concept, you really get a sense of what the cook was going for with their spices and cooking time and methods.

My family was thrilled with all the leftovers at home. Each container sitting on my kitchen counter was a different type of meat (chicken, pork or beef) with a single bite taken from each piece. I think this picture really sums up why I didn't eat until the next day after judging.

Cabela's had a lot of visitors to the cook-off so if you were lucky enough to get a sample of some of the amazing barbecue going on in their parking lot, you'll want to know who won. Here are the results...

CHICKEN

1. Red Neck Caviar

2. DarthQue

3. Meat Fairy

RIBS

1. Meat @ Slims

2. Sweet Chicken

3. Redneck Caviar

PORK

1. Meat at Slim's

2. TJ BBQ

3. Redneck Caviar

BRISKET

1. Sweet Chicken

2. Cravin' Dave's

3. Meat @ Slims

RESERVED CHAMPION (overall)

Redneck Caviar

GRAND CHAMPION (overall)

Meat @ Slims

About the Author

Wendy Almeida has been writing about enjoying the outdoors with kids in her monthly Kid Tracks Outdoors column for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 10 years. Her kids have grown up exploring the trails of Maine on foot, skis and bikes as well as through the geocache and EarthCache games. The family has found treasures of all sorts while out on the trail and the journey continues to be as much fun now that the kids are teenagers as it was when they were preschoolers.

On Twitter and Instagram at @wea1021.

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