How to get prepared in a BBQ competition in New Zealand?

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Barbecue Competition is becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand that you can likely find a contest every month throughout the country. Entering your first competition, however, can be a stressful process as its hard to know exactly what to expect and, as such, how to prepare for it. If you are planning your first BBQ Competition, there are a couple of tips in this article that will make the process a little easier and help you get started in BBQ Competition.


Investigate and Learn

Visit a competition or more if you can and see what it is all about. While you are walking around the contest site, talk to someone that cooks on a team and ask questions. It is also a good way to make friends with the same interests. Do not interrupt if they are involved with prep work or competition turn-ins, this is a busy time and folks are not in the mood to talk during busy times.


Name your team and create your own logo

This is perhaps the most enjoyable part of the entire process. The best advice is taking your time and having some fun. Begin by looking around at various contests and searching the various web sites/forums to get a feel for the names that are out there, and I mean some are really out there. Next, make a list with all of the possibilities. Try to keep in mind something that could personalize your team, and get the opinions from team members. Anything to add a little interest to the name will be good. Check the existing team lists from time to time and scratch off names already in use.


Invest in gazebo shade as protection against the weather

An essential item for BBQ competition that many of us forget is gazebo shade. Competitions hosted around the country are outside the most and there is probably no shade provided. Especially in New Zealand where has ultra-high UV levels internationally. It is important not to forget about how a quality shade will provide protection for your team, your foods and other equipment about at the competition site. There is nothing worse than getting home from a long day out and finding yourself sunburnt.

A Hercules pop up gazebo is the best choice to go.  Our Hercules Gazebo is made of high-quality materials and fabric which features 100% waterproof, fire retardant, and has guaranteed UV protection to 50 SPF. The basic structure set-up or fold-down may be in just 60 seconds due to their concertina scissor action and easy to transport. The most favourite gazebos our BBQ clients pick are the Hercules Pro Series. Of course, a unique custom gazebo printed with your meaningful team logo and graphics will maximise the increase of your team recognition. We keep replacement parts in stock for back-up service in case you may require.



Decide on a BBQ Competition to begin with

Try and find events that are close to your home base and spread out throughout the season. Don’t overdo it and sign up for too many out of the gate.

The New Zealand Barbecue Alliance (NZBA) was founded by the Australasian Barbecue Alliance (ABA), a barbecue competition sanctioning body. The ABA Sanctioned barbecue competitions in New Zealand including Meatstock Auckland and the Jack Daniel’s National Barbecue Championship Series.  You can find the upcoming competitions and the latest competition results on their website.

There are also some local restaurants and community hosting BBQ competitions. Use Google to find more information.


Have a supply list

Go over your lists and begin to gather the needed supplies and equipment. Some of the equipment you may already have. Some can serve double duty between the home kitchen and the competition. I would suggest keeping this arrangement to a minimum, it never fails, when you get to the competition, the needed item is back home in the kitchen. Keep items devoted to BBQ competition whenever possible. It’s also important to avoid overpack for competition because this creates that much more work.


Plan to do a practice run

When it comes to competition BBQ, preparation is the key. Pick a date that is convenient to all your team members and do a complete competition set up. Pick your turn-in times and have them scheduled as you would in a competition with a ½ hour in between. Plan backwards to determine when you will begin cooking your meats. Check the standard size of a competition site,  sizes do vary by different competitions. Use this as a guideline when planning your space. Erect your gazebo, tables, cookers and grills. Set up your lights so you can see at night. Make sure you have enough cords and lights packed.


Food handling 

Be sure to keep meats cold before they are cooked. It is also a good idea to keep poultry separate from other meats. Please, don’t keep the chicken with the beer either. Most organizers will provide in the competition packets what is expected of each team with respect to cleanliness and food safety. Be sure to follow these procedures to prevent food contamination.

Also, remember to care for your meats after turn in time. Make sure to cooler your meats as soon as possible after building your boxes. Care must be taken here to prevent spoilage.  Make sure to monitor and replenish the ice in your coolers as the addition of hot food items tends to melt the ice very quickly.


Stay organised

Try to keep your site as neat and organized as possible. It is much easier to work in a neat kitchen. And It is much safer. Plastic containers with lids make great storage and can be stacked on top of each other. They also provide a dry area when the lids are used. Organize your supplies into their own storage container, labelling the boxes helps with locating an item and is also convenient for returning them to their proper place when it is not being used.


Have fun with your neighbour/competitor

Both your team and competitors are guests of the contest organizers. Take along some good food to prepare for your team and guests. Get out and visit, meet your neighbours. Strike up a conversation and get to know them.  Making new friends could be the best part of the whole competition.



The People’s Republic of Smoke & Flame (2015, September 8). How to Start a Competition BBQ Team[Blog post]. Retrieved from

HowToBBQRight Podcast (2018). Competition BBQ Information[Blog post]. Retrieved from