by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Peter Chow shows off what he hopes will be prize-winning barbecue to instructor Gregg Fujino.The Pacific Northwest’s epicenter for barbecued meats was once again Gregg Fujino’s Woodstock Wine & Deli, on a Sunday late this past spring.

Two concurrent classes were in session – one for cooks, and another for judges.

“There’s more to judging barbecue than just enjoying eating it,” grinned Fujino, who is also a Board member of the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association (PNWBA), as well as a certified judge, and an award-winning barbecue cooking competitor.

Inside the shop, Master PNWBA Judge Stacia Norris from Seattle was teaching a class about how to become a certified barbecue judge at competitions. In this class, future judges learned how to score barbecue on the basis of presentation, appearance, taste, and texture.

“Many people who take the class are cooks,” Fujino told THE BEE. “Learning the criteria by which their barbecue is judged helps them become better cooks.”

The class wasn’t merely a lecture. After learning the basics, students sampled and scored pork butt, beef brisket, chicken, and pork ribs, all as prepared by members of another class, out in the Deli’s parking lot.

“We have several cooks here today, learning how to become competitive barbecue cooks,” Fujino said. “Soon, these cooks will prepare their presentation boxes, and their meats will be graded by the judging class.”

While he himself may not be well-known in the neighborhood, barbecue cooking student Peter Chow revealed that his wife is known to many: She’s third grade Duniway Elementary School teacher Joanne Chow.

“My wife and I took the judging class last year,” Chow said. “Since then, we’ve judged at eleven competitions. This year, we wanted to get a more in-depth understanding about how the cooks prepare the barbecue meats.”

With the aroma of smoked meats wafting through the air, it was clear why so many people “gave up” a beautiful Sunday in May to “attend class”.

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