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It is the mission of the FBA to promote the uniquely American tradition of barbecuing meat over natural wood or charcoal-fired heat and smoke through education, family-friendly fellowship, and competition.


The Master Judge Program

The FBA Master Judge Program is designed to recognize those judges who have shown their support for the most judge friendly, cooker friendly competition barbecue circuit around. The FBA Master Judge is there at almost every contest. They provide the teams with a fair and unbiased arena to test their cooking skills.The following requirements must be met to become an FBA Master Judge:

  • Judge a minimum of 20 FBA sanctioned contests in any 5 year period or less.
  • AND table captain a minimum of 5 times in any 5 year period or less.
  • Must be a member of the FBA and must maintain that membership.
  • Must cook with a Pro division cook team at least once during the same 5 year period at an FBA sanctioned contest and submit the completed form HERE to the Lead Rep for the contest at which you cooked.
  • The Funcook is considered an FBA sanctioned contest for the purposes of judging and master judge.

Guidelines for Master Judge Candidates observing a BBQ cook team

The Master Judge qualifying criteria requires that a Master Judge candidate must cook with a FBA member BBQ team prior to being certified as a Master Judge.  The judges committee and the cook team committees have put together guidelines for both the Master Judge candidate and the cook team to follow. The goal here is to turn out better Master Judges who are knowledgeable and understand the complex and detailed process of turning out good BBQ.


Master Judge Candidate Guidelines:
1. The Master Judge candidate understands this is an observation type of event. They are there to observe the process and are not expected to participate in the cooking process with the teams.
2. Understand the cook team’s major emphasis is to prepare its competition samples and to cook to win the contest.
3. Judge is to fully comply with all instructions given by the cook team. The judge is not there to provide input, but to observe.
4. Judge should contact the cook team and determine the time to report to the cook team on Friday. The judge should understand that cook teams have different methods for cooking which may change the cooking timelines. Your reporting time may be different from others who have received their Master Judge certification. Please be on time.
5. Please feel free to take notes during the time with the BBQ team and ask questions. Many pit masters will gladly share information with you and will answer your questions. If they do have something proprietary, they may not answer your question fully. Remember this is an opportunity to educate you in the cooking process and allow you to observe how a BBQ team executes a successful cook.
6. Only take pictures if the pit master allows during any part of the cook. Never take pictures of finished turn-in boxes. Most teams will not allow you to take pictures of their turn in boxes.
7. The Master Judge candidate is expected to attend the cook’s meeting with the team representative. The cook’s meeting is usually held at 5 pm on Friday afternoon.
8. You are not required to stay the night with the cook team. The pit master will release you when they are finished on Friday evening and will give you a time to return on Saturday morning. Expect the return time to be early. Please be on time.
9. You are more than welcome to socialize with teams on Friday evening, but understand most teams turn in at a reasonable hour due to early starts on Saturday.
10. Plan to stay for the awards ceremony and cheer your team on.

Cook Team Guidelines:
1. Teams are expected to allow the judge to observe the entire process and not shield any part of the process from the judge.
2. If possible, provide an educational environment for the judge. Instruct as much as you feel comfortable. An interactive session throughout the cook will provide a great experience for the Master Judge candidate. Make it conversational.
3. Provide explicit instructions to the judge if needed. Do not be afraid to tell the judge exactly what you would like them to do. Be polite about it. However, if they are causing issues and disturbing your cook, please feel free to dismiss them from your cook site. Please let the lead representative know prior to leaving the contest what occurred.
4. The judges are not there to wash dishes or tote trash. They are there to observe how you make great BBQ.
5. If you trim before arriving at a contest, you are not required to trim in front of your Master Judge candidate. You are not expected to change your process to accommodate the Master Judge candidate. Take time to explain why you trim your meats the way you do but follow your timelines.
6. Invite the Master Judge candidate to socialize with you. This is one of the interesting things to observe at a BBQ contest. However, when it is time to turn in, send the judge candidate home with detailed instructions on when to return. Have them attend the 9 am Nasty with you if that is part of your process. Let them experience the full contest.
7. For the most part, the Master Judge candidates are there to observe the cook process and watch how you turn out good BBQ. Please make the interaction fun for both you and the Master Judge candidate.

Here is a list of teams currently offering to host a judge and to cook with them to meet your Master Judge requirement:

10-4 BBQ

Bearded Monkey Twisted Q

Rum Runners BBQ

Tillman's BBQ


Florida BBQ Association

6800 Gulfport Blvd S Ste 201, #359

South Pasadena, Florida 33707

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