Rules of Competition

Judge Bones set down the current Grill Club
Rules back in Aught Eight.


I. a. Grill Club Competitors will be asked to arrive earlier than the Judges and other guests. This is when competitors will make decisions on whether to add hickory, cherry wood, how to apportion grill time, etc. Exact times will be given before the day of the Challenge.

b. Competitors do not need to be Grill Club members to compete.

c. A competitor may neither judge nor moderate in a Challenge in which he or she is competing.

II. a. Competitors are only required to bring the meat and all the necessary ingredients for the dish they will be grilling. They are, however, permitted to bring additional dishes, refreshments or other necessary items if they so desire.

b. Competitors are asked to bring at least four (4) servings of their dish. One serving will be split up three or more ways for the judges. The others will be cut into sample-size portions for the hoi polloi.

III. a. The competition meat must make up at least 51 percent of a competitor's dish, by mass, after cooking.

i. Other meats are permitted, as long as they do not make up a majority of the dish.

ii. EXCEPTION: During the Veggie Challenge, the dish must be entirely vegetarian (animal by-products such as butter, milk, eggs and cheese are permitted).

iii. If a Competitor or Judge believes that any entry violates Rule III. a., and as long as no Judge has begun tasting the entry for the Judging portion of the Challenge, he or she may request that the dish in question be broken down into its separate components and weighed on a Grill Club-approved scale. The Moderator will conduct the testing, and it must take place in the presence of all the Judges. The Moderator can choose to make the testing public or private, depending on what he or she deems most conducive to maintaining a convivial atmosphere under potentially contentious circumstances. If the entry is found to be in violation of Rule III. a., the Competitor will be given a chance to make adjustments to his or her entry to conform to Rule III. a., whereupon any Competitor or Judge may request that the newly modified entry be re-weighed. If the Competitor refuses to adjust his entry to conform to Rule III. a., his or her entry will be disqualified from the Challenge. There is no appeal to the testing. Competitors and Judges may not request a weighing after the entry in question has been tasted by a Judge for the Judging phase of the Challenge.

b. At least 33 percent of the cooking process must take place on an officially sanctioned grill, as judged by length of time. The final cooking process must be on an officially sanctioned grill (e.g., it is permissible to begin a dish on a grill for nine minutes, cook it in an oven for 20 minutes, and then quickly sear it for one minute on a grill before serving).

i. For the purposes of a Grill Club Challenge, marinating, curing, and other forms of preparatory "cold cooking" do not count as part of the cooking process. Technically speaking, both outdoor grilling (cooking on a grill over an open flame) and barbecueing (cooking or smoking over indirect or low heat over a long period of time) are permissible as long as they take place outdoors and rely primarily upon an open flame, hot coals or the smoke thereof.

ii. If Competitor or Judge believes an entry violates Rule III. b., and as long as the entry in question has not been tasted by a Judge for the Judging portion of the Challenge, he or she may request that an investigation be made into whether the entry violates Rule III. b. The Moderator will conduct the investigation by examining physical evidence and questioning any and all relevant witnesses, then present his or her case to all the Judges. Based on the Moderator's report, the Judges will vote either "yea" or "nay" on whether they believe the entry violates Rule III. b. A majority of the Judges shall decide whether or not the preparation of a dish violates the cooking rules of Grill Club and is thus disqualified from competition. If any one Judge or the Moderator wishes the vote or the report to be private, it will be held in an area separate from all Competitors and Bystanders. There is no appeal to the judgment. Competitors and Judges may not request an investigation into a potential Rule III. b.violation after the entry in question has been tasted by a Judge for the Judging phase of the Challenge.

IV. Each competitor is asked to write a title for and a short description of or essay about his or her dish, not to exceed 50 words to be spoken by the Moderator or a proxy or proxies as chosen by the Moderator. The Moderator (or his or her chosen proxies) will read the descriptions as each dish is presented to the judges. The essay portion comprises the "concept" portion of the judging.

V.a. Competitors may bring their own grill, if so desired. Please notify Grill Club NYC if you plan on doing so.

b. If a competitor requires special equipment or accessories, please notify Grill Club NYC at at least 24 hours in advance.

VI. Unruly, illegal or ungentlemanly conduct of any sort will be grounds for immediate disqualification. Cheating is grounds for permanently being barred from all further Grill Club events.


I. a. Those eligible to be Judges are former Grill Club winners of first, second or third place, anyone who is a member of a Grill Club Order, or anyone who qualifies as a food expert, as decided by Grill Club NYC. No Judge may compete or moderate in a Challenge in which he or she is a Judge.

b. There are three Judges per Challenge, with one Alternate Judge who does not vote in any Challenge-related procedures unless appointed to replace a Judge.

II. a. Judges shall make a blind tasting of each entry. After tasting all the entries, the Judges will assign scores to each entry ranging from a total of 0 to 100, broken down into three component scores as described below.

b. Judges shall award up to 70 points for Taste, up to 20 points for Presentation, and up to 10 points for Concept. The competitor with the highest number of added points is the First Place Winner, the next highest the Second Place Winner and the third highest the Third Place Winner. In the case of a tie, the tie will be broken by a blind ballot among the general non-judge, non-competing hoi polloi.

i. "Taste" includes flavor, texture, scent and general mouth-feel of the entry, with a special emphasis on the relevant grilled meat portion of the entry.

ii. "Presentation" includes appearance and visual appeal of the entry, as well as of the appearance and visual appeal of its garnishes, plateware and general attractiveness.

iii. "Concept" can include the competitors' essays, the general theme or intellectual underpinnings of the entry, abstract ideas, jokes or references as portrayed in the food, and/or how the themes presented in the essays are successfully reflected in the entry.

III. a. Judges are asked to remain away from the grilling area while the grilling portion of the competition is in progress. If a Judge feels his or her objectivity as a Judge has been compromised by witnessing the grilling, he or she is asked to confer with the Moderator about whether it is necessary to resign the Judging position.

b. Judges may not accept gratuities, services or other forms of recompense, or promises of such from a competitor during the competition.

c. i. A Judge who feels he or she cannot rule objectively is asked to notify the Moderator and step down in favor of a more objective replacement.

ii. Judges who do not live up to the standards of their post and who refuse to step down will be removed at the discretion of the Moderator, and replaced with the alternate Judge.

iii. If the Alternate cannot perform for any reason, another, non-competing replacement Judge will be selected by the Moderator.

IV. At the discretion of the Judges, and if the Judges unanimously agree, they may offer the Competitors a critique of each dish after all the entries have been sampled and scored but before the Moderator announces the winners. If all Judges do not agree, none of the Judges shall offer a critique as part of the official Grill Club proceedings.

V. Judges are asked to bring a non-Challenge dish, refreshment or other required item.

The Moderator

I. The Moderator will be an objective coordinator of events who is neither competing nor judging in the Challenge he or she is moderating.

II. a. The Moderator will read each description/essay or assign proxies to read the description/essay.

b. The Moderator will tabulate final scores, reveal the Competitor who made each dish, and announce the third-, second- and first-place winners.

i. In a case where two or more competitors receive the same total score, a majority of the bystanders shall decide which competitor receives the award. In that case, the competitor with the most bystander votes is considered to keep the same score, the competitor with the second most votes is considered to have that score minus one point, the third most votes gets the score minus two, and so on.

ii. There are no ties in Grill Club.

III. a. The Moderator is asked to remain unbiased and objective for the entirety of the proceedings.

i. If he or she feels that that is impossible, he is asked to notify Grill Club before the proceedings begin.

ii. If a Moderator chooses to step down during a Challenge, a majority vote of the Competitors and the Judges will select a new Moderator from among the non-competing, non-judging bystanders.

b. If the Competitors believe the Moderator is not being objective, a majority of the Competitors can petition the Judges to remove the Moderator and appoint a new one. If two of the three Judges agree, the Judges can assign a new Moderator from the bystanders.

c. If the Judges feel the Moderator is not being objective, a unanimous vote of the three Judges will allow them to replace the Moderator. A majority of the Competitors may then select a new, qualified Moderator from the bystanders.

IV. The Moderator is asked to bring some sort of non-Challenge dish, refreshment or other necessary item.

Everyone Else

I . All others (elsewhere designated "bystanders" or "hoi polloi") are asked to bring a side dish or beverage or other required item.

II. Bystanders are asked not to violate the objectivity of the Grill Club proceedings by revealing which competitors are responsible for which dishes, by speaking aloud their own preferences, by interfering with the grilling or the judging processes, or through other chicanery or unintentional means. The Moderator or Judge may ask any bystander to leave for a portion or all of the Grill Club proceedings, if necessary.

III. In the case of a tie for First, Second or Third Place, bystanders will be asked to take a blind vote on which of the competitors who tied should win the contested place. If the vote ends in another tie, the vote shall be repeated as necessary until the tie is broken.