“Skill of the Grill”
Salmon BBQ Grilling Championship 2017

Presented by Anthony’s Restaurants

[Download Salmon BBQ Grilling Championships 2017 Guidelines PDF]

The Bellingham SeaFeast 2017 Skill of the Grill Salmon BBQ Grilling Championship is open to anyone. Whether individuals, a family, or a team involved in backyard BBQ or smoking merely as an enthusiast or as a ‘foodie’ or professional – you are welcome to participate.

Entry Fees: $60 each team 

Team Limit: 10
Acceptance is based on the date of your registration and fee payment. 

New in 2017:
In addition to the blind Judging, we offer a People’s Choice component.  Feedback from festival attendees last year indicated that attendees wanted to eat the fish you grilled and wanted to interact more with you to learn about your techniques. The blind judging portion will take place first, followed by the People’s Choice tasting and voting. 

Team Information:
A team consists of a Captain, a Deck Hand (safety assistant), and as many assistants who fit inside the individual booth area. 

  • We invite you to have a great time cooking while also maintaining the family atmosphere of the Bellingham SeaFeast 2017. We encourage interaction with the crowd. One of your assistants could serve as your “hype” person.
  • The Captain has total responsibility for the conduct of all team members and guests. Discretion, care, and good taste all apply in the cooking process and in the booth area behavior. Also, remember that alcohol can be served and consumed only in the designated “Brews with a View” Beer Garden – not in or near your competition booth.
  • Team members who have had symptoms of illness/sickness within 48 hours prior to the competition may NOT participate. The Captain must ensure that team members adhere to this and all other policies.
  • Each team must set up, maintain, tear down, and clean up its own booth. 

Team Booth Set-Up & Equipment:

 Bellingham SeaFeast 2017 provides for each team:

  • One (1) Bellingham SeaFeast 2017 Apron.
  •  Access to a warm-water, gravity-flow, hand wash station (one for every 2 booths).
  • Garbage receptacle (one for every 2 booths).
  •  Ice
  • Access to communal garbage, recycling, waste-water disposal area.
  •  Filleted salmon sides (see details about salmon.
  • Salmon presentation containers for the blind judging process.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Two pairs of gloves for food preparation (Large). If you need an alternate size bring your own.
  • Sample cups and small utensils for serving the People’s Choice salmon to the public.
  • Ash & Coal Disposal provisions:
    • A metal garbage can with a lid – clearly marked “BBQ ashes only” to prevent inadvertent placement of combustible garbage in the can.
    • A water hose to cool/extinguish the ashes.

Team must bring to your cooking site:

  • All food/recipe ingredients.
  • All utensils.
  • Food preparation table.
  •  Service table for serving the People’s Choice samples.
  • Ice chest(s)/Cooler(s) clean.
  • BBQ/Grill/Fire Pit/Smoker.  NOTE: If you don’t have access to a workable grill, we will have two Weber grills available. (Bring your own charcoal.)
  • Food grade thermometer – digital preferred.
  •  Cooking surfaces (e.g., griddle, wood plank, fry pan, foil, etc.).
  • Covered booth space – 10 x 10 fire-retardant tent. All preparation and grilling activities must take place within this space.
  • Chair(s).
  • Signs displaying team name and/or logo/branding.
  • Station cleaning and sanitation supplies.
  •  (Optional) Table skirt.

If needed, please specify which type on your booth sketch in the application packet. 

  • Teams requiring electricity must provide industrial-grade extension cords. Competitors must adhere to all electrical, fire, health, and other codes set forth by the event organizers.

Equipment Types and Cooking Methods:

BBQs, Grills, Fire Pits, and/or Smokers: You may use wood, charcoal, pellet, or propane fuel. Additional cooking surfaces may be used in conjunction with the BBQ/Grill/Fire Pit/Smoker (e.g., griddle, fry pan, foil, wood planks, etc).  Bellingham SeaFeast has two Weber grills available. (Indicate on the Registration Form if you need one; an additional fee applies.)

  •  Each team will grill whole fillets.
  •  Booth layout:  Law requires that the cooking surfaces must be positioned away from the viewing public by at least 4 feet at all times. To allow attendees to watch you cooking while still complying with the 4-feet rule, we recommend that you place your grill perpendicular to the front of the 10x10’ booth with the service table across the front.
  • If you grill over open flames, any fire pit must be enclosed and above ground and at least 20 feet from a building, while making sure you cause no damage to the ground. 
  • At the close of your event, dispense of ashes in a separate container and use water to ensure that all fuel is extinguished. (See details on p. 2 regarding Ash & Coals Disposal.)

Note: To provide a level field for competition, Bellingham SeaFeast 2017 will provide all salmon for the competition. Health Department regulations require that participants may not bring or deliver any salmon for the competition.

  • Wild-caught, previously-frozen, skin-on filleted King salmon sides that have been inspected and that come from a government-approved source will be provided to each team. The salmon will be pin bone-out (PBO).
  • Teams will receive and prepare four (4) whole, filleted salmon sides – one side for blind judging, and the other three sides for the People’s Choice Tasting/Scoring. Once your salmon has arrived in your booth you cannot remove it from the area or replace it. 
  • The salmon side for the blind judging will have a unique mark to identify assignment to each team, and to ensure that the salmon side distributed to your team is what you will grill and place in a marked container for delivery to the judges. 
  • You will pick up your salmon sides at the BBQ Team Meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23. Each BBQ booth must use sanitary practices and keep uncooked salmon separate from other foods/ingredients.

Seasonings, Glazes, Marinades and Side Dishes

We request (not require) that your team makes any marinades, rubs/seasonings, and glazes on-site to provide a cooking lesson for the public and to generate excitement for your unique BBQ process. You may bring them with you already prepared. For everyone’s safety, and to meet food safety standards, transport and store all cold items at 40-45 degrees. 

Food Safety -  We require:

  • At least one of your team members must hold a valid Whatcom County Food Handlers Permit (procure at www.whatcomcounty.us/health). We will provide one warm-water, gravity flow, hand-washing station for every two booths.
  • Food preparers must wear gloves when handling and/or preparing ready-to-eat foods, i.e., foods that are not cooked before eating, and when directly touching cooked foods before serving.
  • A food-grade thermometer for the fish that the public will sample. If you use the thermometer for multiple foods, please use an appropriate sanitation method between uses. 
  • One of your ice chest/coolers must hold ONLY the raw, uncooked salmon. Use separate ice chests/coolers for your ready-to-eat foods requiring refrigeration. Store your other ingredients and/or foods in covered containers to protect them from the weather and possible contamination.

Team Signage and Interaction with Public:

  • Each Team must submit an official team name that cannot be changed later. In a case of duplicate names, the earliest registration prevails.
  • Enthusiastically promote your BBQ Team. Display on your booth only the name of the BBQ Team as stated on the application. You provide all booth signage and table skirts, as desired.
  •  Bellingham SeaFeast is a family event. Use good taste in selecting your Team Name and your signage.
  • We allow use of the Bellingham SeaFeast 2017 logo on your sign, requiring approval by the event organizers prior to the event. Contact deb@bellinghamseafeast.com
  • We encourage each BBQ Team member to interact with the public and answer questions. We appreciate you telling your story. Perhaps you assign a “hype” person on your team. Attendees want to learn how to grill salmon – they are interested in all aspects of grilling salmon including:
    • Do you put the fish directly onto the grill?
    • Do you use foil?
    • Do you grill it skin-down?
    • Do you turn it? What seasonings do you use?
    •  How hot is the grill?
  • NEW this year: We will have a Masters of Ceremony (M.C.) roam throughout the “Skill of the Grill” area to provide more information and interaction with the public. 
  • Print Material:  Please prepare Recipe Cards of your method to hand out to attendees.

Two Ways to Win:  Judges & People’s Choice

Blind Judging Procedures

The Blind Judging will happen first. You will grill one of your salmon sides for this Blind Judging segment.

Contest supervisors will place your salmon in provided containers that are the same for each team. Supervisors will mark each container uniquely to identify your Team.  

 Your salmon will be placed in the special container and delivered to the judging station. Judges will be set up near the BBQ Grilling area.  SeaFeast Staff will cut your salmon into 5 pieces – one for each judge. NOTE: They will not score the overall appearance of the whole fillet this year.


  • BBQ Teams cannot mark containers in any way; violations will risk disqualification (a score of 1).
  • No side sauces (tarter, hollandaise, etc.) are allowed in the judging container. If that happens, the entry will be marked disqualified (a score of 1). 
  • Sauces and/or glazes may be applied before and during cooking, but not pooled into the container. One exception: a half lemon, sliced as a garnish.
  • Each team decides how to utilize the salmon skin in the grilling, but the skin will not receive consideration in the blind judging.
  • The addition of toothpicks, tinfoil, or markings such as a distinctive brand {e.g., with a branding iron} in the salmon delivered to the judges is strictly prohibited and will disqualify an entry (score of 1).

People’s Choice Tasting/Scoring:
Because the People’s Choice Tasting/Scoring happens second, you will grill three of your fish fillets for the People’s Choice after grilling one fillet for the Blind Judging portion.

Serving Regulations:  
All contestants participating in the People’s Choice must comply with all Health Department Regulations for serving cooked salmon to the public.  Complete Health Department Rules and Regulations will be sent with your Confirmation Packet.

How the People’s Choice segment works:

  • The People’s Choice will take place as a limited tasting for which attendees buy tickets.
  • Tickets to sample and cast a ballot will go on sale in the Bellingham SeaFeast Ticket Booth. COST: $1 per one sample.
  • Samplers will receive a scorecard and vote for whichever salmon they enjoy the most, ranking the samples by their top three choices.
  • This sampling will enhance the experience, encourage more support for you, and create an opportunity where people can learn a bit about grilling salmon and how to enjoy it. We encourage you to have fun, and to coax/coach the attendees to help add fun and excitement to their judging. Hand out copies of your recipes for participants to pick up and take home.

Note: You stand two chances of winning “Skill of the Grill” honors – the Blind Judging coupled with the People’s Choice!

 Judges for the Blind Judging Segment:

  • A panel composed of three or more professionals from the Food & Hospitality Industry (chef, restaurant critic, food writer, etc.) and two non-professionals will judge the grilled salmon.
  • Event Runners will retrieve one side of salmon from each BBQ Teams at designated presentation times and deliver to the judges.  
  • The judging system utilizes a duplicate numbered theater ticket. To clearly identify the grilled salmon delivered to the judges, Event Runners attach one-half of a Team’s ticket to the bottom of the container and the Team keeps the other half. On their scorecard Judges record the number of the ticket that corresponds to the salmon they’re judging.
  • The salmon side will be cut into sections – one for each judge, who then reviews, deliberates, and scores the grilled salmon silently without discussion among other judges. 

Judging Schedule

The schedule for Saturday, Sept. 23 appears below.

  • Each BBQ Team receives a specific time for Event Runners to deliver its grilled salmon to the judges. Times are staggered to allow judges to sample the salmon while it’s still freshly-grilled. Delivery times will be drawn at the BBQ Team Booth Captains Meeting.
  • Judges receive and review 3 containers of grilled salmon every 10 minutes, beginning at Noon.  Each 10-minute time slot is a “Heat.”  Three Heats make up the competition (3-4 teams each Heat). 
  • IMPORTANT: Each BBQ Team must plan accordingly for time of arrival, setting up its BBQ station, firing up the grill, receiving the salmon at 10:30 a.m., and grilling time for the Blind Judging (high noon) and the People’s Choice (12:45 p.m.).


Blind Judging Rubric:
Teams must present salmon sides (one by each team) to judges in the container provided by Bellingham SeaFeast 2017 organizers with no additional markings or side sauces.

Scoring in each category:


    1 = Disqualification
    2 – 10   A score of 10 is best; fractional scoring is encouraged to the second decimal point (e.g., 7.51). 

       NOTE: Appearance of the salmon skin is not considered

 Judges will total scores for each side and divide by the number of Categories (3).


  1. Moisture-- Salmon is moist & tender; not under-or overcooked (i.e., mushy, dry or tough)
  2. Texture – salmon flakes easily with a fork
  3. Taste:  Salmon is pleasing to the palate

Total Raw Score
Final Score (total Raw score divided by 3)     

People’s Choice Rubric:

Bellingham SeaFeast supplies compostable sample cups and small compostable forks to each participating Salmon BBQ Booth.


  • Attendees participate by purchasing tickets ($1/sample).  Participants may purchase tickets and sample as many times as they desire. 
  • While participants may purchase and sample at will, they can judge just 3 samples on each ballot.
  •  Each card will be placed in a box and the results tabulated at the end of the contest.

Prizes & Awards: $100 up to $800, with $1,100 total prizes

Blind Judging Prizes/Awards:
1st place - Gold Medal on Ribbon, Grand Grillmaster Plaque, $500
2nd place - Silver Medal on Ribbon, $200
3rd place - Bronze Medal on Ribbon, $100

 People’s Choice Prizes/Awards:
1st place - $300, Medal on Ribbon

Salmon BBQ Championship Schedule


  • Sept. 1 – Application Due
  • Sept. 8 –  Booth Assignments and Load-In/Parking Information emailed to all competitors andPayment due.

Schedule for Competition, Saturday, Sept. 23
7-10 a.m.  Arrival & Set-up.               
10-10:30 a.m. – BBQ Team Captains Meeting (times drawn for Heats and salmon delivery to you booth).
11:00 a.m. – Bellingham SeaFeast 2017 opens.               

Blind Judging:
12 p.m. – Heat #1 – 3 BBQ Teams deliver salmon to Judges
12:10 – Heat #2 – 3 BBQ Teams deliver salmon to Judges
12:20 – Heat #3 – 4 BBQ Teams deliver salmon to Judges

People’s Choice Tasting and Scoring:
12:45-2:45 p.m.  Tasting and scoring.
2:45 p.m. – Judges Deliberate, Scores Tallied from both Blind Judging and People’s Choice.
3 p.m. Winners & Awards Announced & Presented (Main Stage)

NOTE: Specifics about take-down/load-out times and process details will be sent Sept. 8 along with the details about parking/load-in, etc. Generally, BBQ Grilling Contestants may begin loading out gear at 6:10 p.m.

Details – Composting/Insurance/Hold Harmless

Bellingham SeaFeast 2017 is designated as a Toward Zero Waste (TZW) event.  Please read the attached TZW Agreement.  Bellingham SeaFeast will provide compostable sample cups and cutlery for tasting your grilled salmon. All preparation supplies must comply with the TZW Guidelines. 

Insurance- Because we will feed the public (People’s Choice) we must comply with our insurance vendor’s mandate to provide a Certificate of Insurance (additional insured endorsement). We have created two compliance options for you. After reading the information below, your Two Options:

  1. Select your own insurance provider to procure your own Certificate of Insurance.  
  2. Select our arranged Group Vendor Online Insurance Program. Once you’re approved as a Salmon BBQ griller we’ll send you the link to register and pay. Cost: $42.

Information about Certificate of Insurance (additional insured endorsement):

  • VENDOR must procure and maintain for the duration of Bellingham SeaFeast 2017 (including set-up and breakdown) insurance against claims for injuries to persons or damage to property that arise from or in connection with the performance of the work hereunder by the VENDOR, their agents, representatives, employees, or subcontractors.  VENDOR’S maintenance of insurance as required by the agreement will not limit the liability of the VENDOR to the coverage provided by such insurance, or otherwise limit the BELLINGHAM SEAFEAST 2017, CITY OF BELLINGHAM, and PORT OF BELLINGHAM’s recourse to any remedy available at law or in equity. Insurance must be placed with insurers that have a current A.M. Best rating of not less than A:VII. Any payment of deductible or self-insured retention is the sole responsibility of the VENDOR.
  • The VENDOR must provide a Certificate of Insurance and additional insured endorsement page(s) evidencing Commercial General Liability insurance written on an ISO occurrence basis form CG 00 01.
  • Vendor must cover liability arising from premises, operations, property damage, independent contractors and personal injury and advertising injury, with limits no less than $1 million combined single limit per occurrence and $2 million aggregate.
  • The BELLINGHAM SEAFEAST 2017, CITY OF BELLINGHAM, and PORT OF BELLINGHAM, and their officers, volunteers and agents must be named as an additional insured on the insurance policy, as respects actions performed by or on behalf of the VENDOR.
  • A copy of the endorsement naming the BELLINGHAM SEAFEAST 2017, CITY OF BELLINGHAM, and PORT OF BELLINGHAM as additional insured must be attached to the original Certificate of Insurance and provided to the Bellingham SeaFeast Management Committee no later than August 18, 2017. The Bellingham SeaFeast 2017 Management Committee reserves the right to request certified copies of any required insurance policies.
  • The VENDOR’S insurance must contain a clause stating that coverage must apply separately to each insured against whom claim is made or suit is brought, within the limits of the insurer’s liability.  The VENDOR’S insurance must be primary insurance with respect to the BELLINGHAM SEAFEAST, CITY OF BELLINGHAM, and PORT OF BELLINGHAM; all must receive thirty (30) days prior written notice of any cancellation, suspension, or material change in coverage.

 Indemnity and Waiver
The APPLICANT must indemnify and hold Bellingham SeaFeast 2017, CITY OF BELLINGHAM, PORT OF BELLINGHAM and their agents, employees and/or officers, harmless from, and must process and defend at its own expense, any and all claims, demands, suits, at law or equity, actions, penalties, loss, damages, or costs, of whatsoever kind or nature, brought againstthe BELLINGHAM SEAFEAST 2017, CITY OF BELLINGHAM, and PORT OF BELLINGHAM arising out of, or in connection with, or incident to, the execution of this Agreement, and/or

APPLICANT’S performance or failure to perform any aspect of this Agreement; provided, however, that if such claims are caused by, or result from, the concurrent negligence of the BELLINGHAM SEAFEAST 2017, CITY OF BELLINGHAM or PORT OF BELLINGHAM, their agents, employees, and/or officers, these indemnity provisions must be valid and enforceable only to the extent of the negligence of the APPLICANT; andProvided further, that nothing herein must require the APPLICANT to hold harmless or defend the BELLINGHAM SEAFEAST 2017, CITY OF BELLINGHAM, and PORT OF BELLINGHAM, their agents, employees, and/or officers for damages or loss caused by the BELLINGHAM SEAFEAST, CITY OF BELLINGHAM, or PORT OF BELLINGHAM sole negligence. 

The APPLICANT expressly agrees that the indemnification provided herein constitutes the contractor’s waiver of immunity under Title 51 R.C.W., for the purposes of this Agreement.  This waiver has been mutually negotiated by the parties.  The provisions of this section must survive the expiration or termination of this Agreement.