Trends in competition chicken


Dave from Denver

TVWBB Wizard
Hi Donna,

Was wondering what you could say, generally, about what's working in chicken these days from your experience.

Have you seen any teams with "grilled" style skin (i.e., crispy) be successful? In your experience are judges getting tired of the "perfect chicken satchel" boneless presentation yet?

Is sweet plus a touch of heat still the wheelhouse flavor profile? Have you seen any teams be successful with a nonconventional presentation (boneless skinless breasts, cornell chicken, or others?). As recently as 2012 it was very trendy to use Blues Hog or Head Country sauce on chicken turn ins, have you seen that continue until 2014?

I know this might be different between KCBS and California BBQA competing but I'd like to hear about any general movements you've seen between judging and competing.


This is a great question. And boy, do I have a lot of opinions about it! I got tired of chicken thighs ages ago. I beg for the day where it becomes routine again to turn in anything for chicken, or a whole chicken cut up. I'm a lover of chicken wings. I tried a few times to cook wings alongside thighs but I haven't yet gotten them to be as good as thighs. That being said, in California, we have a SoCal team that almost wins every time with chicken drumsticks. My buddy in Texas cooks them very well and does well. In the last comp, I table captained and saw chicken breast, -! do very well in our table. I don't know if they took first or not, but it was good breast and un-sauced. And I'll mention that I did cook breast recently and turned them into judges and they liked it without sauce and without skin. So it is possible. But you gotta nail it.
The last answer would be that I'm noticing over saucing on chicken is not appealing to some judges. How pervasive that is, I don't know. And I have seen chicken thighs with grill marks but I assume from the box presentation that it was a newbie cook. He/she didn't use sauce either but even though it kinda looked bad, it did better than I expected. We mostly have bone-in thighs here in CA.