At Girls Can Grill, we’re dedicated to teaching women how to grill, and we love highlighting the awesome ladies who are grilling, cuing and smoking it up like a boss.

One of those fantastic griller gals is Jayna Todisco. She grew up with traditional cooking chops – thanks to her grandma, but she found her way to the barbecue scene after going on a blind date.

My date took me to a BBQ festival. That was my first taste of BBQ, and I admittedly didn’t even know what pulled pork was until that point. From there, I started going to BBQ festivals regularly, then I started judging, bought a smoker had kids somewhere in between and decided to form a team with my husband and kids.”

Jayna Todisco

Jayna named her team after her grandmother Mazie, and thus A Mazie Q was born.

In just five years, Jayna has gone from a backyard BBQ competitor to a champion. She’s won 15 competitions; including her latest win in November at the World Food Championships where she took first place in the Cowboy Charcoal Fire & Ice Women’s Championship BBQ Series.

The prize – bragging rights and $5,000 in diamond jewelry.

Fire and Ice

She earned her spot at WFC by competing in KCBS competitions throughout the year. She started in 7th place, but went home with the Fire and Ice prize, in large part to her first place burgers.

“For the grilling contest, I felt really good. We had done our entry for six other contests, and each time, it took first place; but moreover, it tasted delicious, and it was cooked perfectly.”

In the BBQ round, she scored a 675, which was enough to clench the title and the diamonds, which she’s having made into custom rings.

“For the BBQ contest, I felt it went ok. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t our best. I was worried because the other ladies I was cooking against were so talented that it did mess with my head. Luckily, it was enough for the win…If my bad day is a 675, I’m happy with that.”

Jayna said winning the Cowboy Charcoal Fire & Ice Women’s Championship BBQ Series means more than she could ever show.

“I never had it in my heart that I was going to win, nor did I daydream about winning. This was because I knew that I had to travel so far to get there, and as a result, I didn’t want to be disappointed if I didn’t do well. That would’ve been a long car ride home! So I’m going into all this to say that because I didn’t sike myself up, I’m still in shock, still processing, still pinching myself.

I remember telling myself right before they announced the awards, ‘Jayna, if you don’t do well, so what! This has been such a great experience! And if you do well, feel the moment. Take five minutes and just take it in.’ And that’s exactly what I did. I took that five minutes and reflected on every point in my life that led me to that win. Every moment of doubt, disappointment and opposition melted away. And also every victory and encouragement God gave me to say, ‘You got this,’ was now truly believed.

We all have our personal struggles, our let downs and limitations. And that’s what people don’t see about others, and with me, there is plenty of that. So I’ve had to overcome a lot. And to overcome so many obstacles and travel so far and win is not only a feeling of euphoria but also a joy and gratefulness that cannot be put into words. Trust me when I say, it means a lot.”

How did you get started barbecuing?

I started competing in backyard competitions in 2011. Back then, we didn’t have much – one small smoker and a grill. We used to borrow my father-in-law’s truck and load every thing in the back and sleep in a tent. Smokers that had good insulation or even an accurate thermometer seemed miles away at that point. In 2012, we tried the pro-circuit doing one contest. Then the following year, two, and then it just kept doubling from there. Looking back, we’ve come so far and am truly grateful for my grandmother and father-in-law.

What is that makes your cue stand out from the rest?

In terms of BBQ, that’s hard to answer. I could tell you that for any category it’s because the sauce is right or that the rub has just the right amount of heat, and while those things are very important, its not everything. You have to stay relevant in an ever-changing game. It’s your technique, your finesse, those last minute changes that make me and others stand out. So the challenge is to figure out how to be different in a world that shifts constantly. Sometimes we achieve that, then the game changes and we have to change with it. I’m sure a lot of teams would agree that most of us pass in our entries with the same commercial sauce and rub as other teams, but it’s the detailed touches that change it. And most importantly – cook your meat correctly!

For grilling on the other hand, there is more room to be flexible than BBQ. I think my grilling dishes stand out as I just think outside the box. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. Doesn’t mean I’m better or worse, just different and I’m ok with that.

Do you have any BBQ tips or secrets that you’d be willing to share?

I’d like to share this…if you’re starting out, or are fumbling to figure it all out but feel lost – don’t overwhelm or over confuse yourself. It’s not about the best new rub or sauce on the market. Don’t get me wrong, in time, that’s important but for now…learn your cooker, cook your meat perfectly, get the basics down, and then you can chase that $200 thermometer. A lot of my top scoring items have just salt and pepper on it. So there’s that…

Do you have any advice for other women who are new to grilling or barbecuing?

Just keep at it. Surround yourself with positive people that always encourage you. Sounds simple, but I’ve learned that more serious you become about something you love, the more people will start to question it. Believe in yourself and become your own cheerleader. And don’t be afraid to be humble, ask questions & admit what you need help in, and you’ll find that there is a community of people that will help. If all else fails, contact me on social media.

RAPID FIRE

Favorite cut of meat to BBQ? Brisket but if you ask me tomorrow I’ll say ribs.

Sauce or no sauce? Very lightly sauced

Do you wrap your brisket in foil or paper? Foil

Favorite smoker? I love my Humphrey’s for my big meats but for my little, I’m drawn to my first love – my WSM.

Favorite wood to smoke with? Smoke – apple or pecan. Grilling – hickory all the way!!!

Cowboy Charcoal Fire & Ice
Women’s Championship Barbeque Series
Top 3

Cowboy Charcoal Fire & Ice Women’s Championship BBQ Series
  1. Jayna Todisco of A Mazie Q
  2. Sylvie Curry of Lady of Q
  3. Kim Hicks of Midnight Burn

Disclosure: Cowboy Charcoal sponsored this post.


2017-02-18T15:01:12+00:00

About the Author:

I love to cook outdoors. Give me a smoker, a grill or even a campfire, and I'll serve you up a meal you won't forget.

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