2024 Gaff-n-Grill Information

Congratulations on joining the premier utility barbecue competition on the East Coast.  Thank you for participating in the 2024 Gaff-n-Grill Barbecue Cookoff!  This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever and will take place on Friday, May 17, at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Va, in conjunction with the Gaff-n-Go Rodeo.

This year’s competition will feature an enhanced grilling experience with 4 entry categories:

  • Pork Butt
  • Pork Ribs
  • Mystery Meat– category that will be announced on-site at meat pick-up.
  • Anything but Butts– You bring your best! This is a wild card category for each team to showcase a culinary specialty. Anything goes – gumbo, tacos, dessert…but NO traditional barbecue.  NOTE:  Teams are responsible for bringing all ingredients for the Anything but Butts category and cook onsite.

This year there is a non-refundable registration fee of $200.00 per team. Each team member will receive a commemorative Gaff-n-Grill T-shirt and a lunch ticket on Friday.  Everyone is invited to stay for the Gaff-n-Grill Dinner on Friday evening.

Winning teams will be announced on-site at the Gaff-n-Grill Dinner on Friday evening – where contestants’ barbecue will be served.

Rules – 

The Basic Ingredients

  • Utilities and Utility Affiliates may enter teams.
  • All Teams must consist of at least one current or retired employee of a Utility or Utility Affiliate.
  • Each Team will consist of a Chief Grillmaster who will be responsible for the team’s actions and adherence to the rules, and a maximum of three team members.
  • Each Team will provide its own method of cooking and the cooking devices it uses. There will be no sharing of cooking devices with other Teams.
  • Meat is provided to each team for three of the four categories (Pork Butt, Pork Ribs, Mystery Meat)
  • Teams bring their own ingredients for the “Anything but Butts” category.

The Prep Work

  • All seasoning and cooking of meat shall be done within the confines of each team’s assigned cooking space.
  • Team members may only compete on one team.
  • All meat must be cooked in its entirety (may not be parted).
  • Meat may not leave the competition site from the time it is accepted until it is taken to the judges.
  • Before cooking, all meat must be kept in a cooler on ice at a holding temperature of 40°F or less.
  • After cooking, meat must be maintained at a minimum temperature of 140°F.
  • Following the judging process, contestants shall keep the remaining pork barbeque meat warm to serve at the Friday night dinner.
  • Teams must provide all needed equipment, supplies, tables, chairs and electricity.
  • Cookers, tents, and any other equipment, including generators, may not exceed the boundaries of the team’s assigned cooking space.
  • Teams can cook using wood, pellets, charcoal, gas or electricity. No open pits or holes are permitted. Fires may not be built on the ground.
  • It is the responsibility of each team to ensure the cooking space is kept clean during the competition and following the contest.
  • All fires must be extinguished, and all equipment must be removed from the site by Saturday night. It is imperative that clean-up be thorough, as failure to clean up could result in disqualification.

Lookin’ Good

  • Each team MUST submit meat entries in a container supplied by event organizers, and the meat shall be presented according the guidelines given to each team on the morning of the competition.
  • Due to the additional meats in this years’ competition, we will not have individual judging times as we did last year.  Each meat will have a deadline for submission (i.e. – all teams will submit ribs at the same time).  Details of this change are outlined in the documentation you will receive on Friday morning.   All containers will be assigned a random number at the time the meat is submitted for judging. Judges will not know whose entry they are judging.
  • Garnish is limited to ONLY chopped, sliced or whole leaves of fresh green lettuce.  Green Lettuce includes iceberg, romaine, bibb, and any other green type of lettuce.  Green lettuce DOES NOT include kale, parsley, red tipped lettuce, endive, or any other vegetable that is not a GREEN LETTUCE.
  • Any entry not complying with this rule will be given a score of one (1) on “Appearance”.

Some Do’s and Don’ts

  • Contestants shall not mark the meat container. No aluminum foil or other material is allowed in the container. Any container found with any marking or foreign material – other than the meat to be judged or lettuce inside the container will be disqualified.
  • No side sauce containers will be permitted in the meat containers or as a side. Meat may be presented with or without sauce on it as the contestant wishes. Sauces may not be pooled or puddled in the container. Noncompliance with this rule will result in a score of one (1) on “Appearance”.
  • The only meat that shall be submitted is the meat supplied by the organizer – except for the submission of the “Anything but Butts” category.
  • Cleanliness of the cook, assistants and the team’s assigned space is required. All materials and garbage must be disposed of by the team.
  • The use of any tobacco (smoking, dipping, chewing, etc.) products in the food preparation area or while handling the meat is prohibited and can be reason for disqualification.
  • Shirts and closed-toe shoes are required to be always worn.
  • Each team must provide a separate container for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing of utensils and the work area.
  • Use one teaspoon of bleach to one gallon of water for general clean-up and washing of dishes, cutting boards, etc. The use of disposable gloves and any other protective items is strongly recommended to help maintain good hygiene and a germ-free work area.
  • A fire extinguishing device shall be near all grills or cooking devices at all times.
  • All decisions made by the Coordinators Committee are final.

Who Does What AND When?

  • All teams will cook three meats that will include pork barbeque, ribs and a mystery meat. The Event Coordinator will pick up the three meats to ensure they are all about the same size.
  • Teams may pick up the meat on Friday, May 17, beginning at 7:00 A.M.
  • Teams will be allowed to set up their cooking stations on Thursday, May 16, from 2:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.
  • All cooking must be done on site (rodeo grounds) and will start at 7:30 A.M. on Friday, May 19. Cookers may be started prior to 7:30 A.M. as long as they are tended.
  • Teams will have assigned times on Friday for categories to be turned in for judging. No entry will be accepted after 10 minutes past its assigned judging time.

Judging Guidelines

  • There will be three panels of judges that will judge on the following criteria:
    • Taste
    • Presentation/Appearance
    • Tenderness/Texture.
  • If an entry is turned in late, one point will be deducted for each minute the entry is late up to 10 minutes.
  • No entries will be accepted after 10 minutes past its judging deadline.
  • Scores range from 2-9 points for each category, with 9 being the highest and 2 being the lowest. Only the head judge or each judging panel can give a score of 1 (one) for disqualification.
  • Judges are not to compare or rank one entry with another but should judge each item on its own merit. Each entry is to be tasted and scored individually. Multiple entries may have the same score.
  • The “Appearance” score will reflect the attractiveness of the whole presentation.
  • The “Tender/Texture” and “Taste” scores come from individual pieces taken and tasted by each judge.
  • Each judge must provide three scores for each entry submitted.

Scoring guidelines

= Outstanding, among the best meat.
= Close to, but not quite the best.
= Much better than average, but not among the best.
= Slightly better than average.
= Average meat.
= Slightly below average.
= Quite a bit below average.
= Poor meat.
= Disqualified per rule violation.

All scores will be weighted by the following factors:

  • Appearance: 0.5714
  • Taste: 2.2858
  • Tenderness: 1.1428

A raw score of 9 in appearance multiplied by the appearance weighting factor of 0.5714 equals a weighted appearance score of 5.1426.

A raw score of 9 in taste multiplied by the taste weighting factor of 2.2858 equals a weighted taste score of 20.5722.

A raw score of 9 in tenderness multiplied by the tenderness weighting factor of 1.1428 equals a weighted tenderness score of 10.2852.

These three weighted scores added together equal a total weighted score of 36.0000.

Therefore, the weighting factors convert a perfect raw score by a single judge of 9-9-9 into a perfect weighted score by a single judge of 36.  Furthermore, this results in the conversion of a perfect score of 9-9-9 by all four judges into a perfect weighted score of 144 weighted points.

How the Judges Will Judge

  • Entry will be shown to judges. They will first judge for appearance and place the score on the scoring sheet. Judges will then take a sample from the container and place it in front of them. The judges will then sample the entry and mark their score sheet. The judges will ensure that all three categories have been scored before turning in their scoring sheet. All score sheets must be turned in before the next entry is presented.
  • Judges will score carefully, since once their score sheet has been turned in, it cannot be changed.
  • Judges will take their time. There will be ample time between entries for Judges to adequately evaluate a sample.
  • Judges will not talk or discuss entries once the entries have been brought to the judging table. Talking may resume once judging sheets have been collected.