7th Place Finish

Tracey Royer

JD's Smokin Misfits
Tracey Royer
Final Score
89.46840264
KCBS Score
657.5656
WFC Score
87.6667

I learned the hard way that being on the team and being in charge of the team are two completely different things.

This was a year of firsts for lady pitmaster Tracey Royer from Fredericksburg, VA. Royer recently stepped into the pitmaster position for her team, JD's Smokin Misfits, a role previously held by her father for over a decade.

As a longtime team member, Royer certainly knows her way around the pit, since the Misfits compete in at least 10 competitions annually. However, Royer discovered she still had a lot to learn when her father decided to turn over the leadership reigns.

"I learned the hard way that being on the team and being in charge of the team are two completely different things," confessed Royer. "There was a lot I had to figure out."

After placing poorly in the first few competitions her team entered with Royer as their newly appointed pitmaster, she became discouraged. Luckily, her team and the barbeque community rallied around her with support. One pitmaster's encouraging words in particular that meant a lot to Royer was 2016 World Barbecue Champion, Luke Darnell.

"When I first started out as pitmaster I questioned, 'Can I really do this?' [Darnell] was there telling me, 'You'll get it. Keep trying and practicing — just don't give up!'" shared Royer. "That really meant the world to me."

Royer's persistence paid off. So well, in fact, that she qualified to compete in the Cowboy Charcoal's Fire & Ice finals at the World Food Championships.

Royer first learned about the Cowboy Charcoal's Fire & Ice Women's Barbeque Series through Facebook last year during its inaugural year. But at the time, Royer had not stepped into her role as pitmaster for her team.

"At this time, we had already discussed me taking on my dad's role for the following year. So when I saw this competition, I thought, if I'm pitmaster next year I'm signing up for this!" proclaimed Royer.

And she did just that!

This past November Royer headed to Orange Beach, Ala., to the World Food Championship to battle it out with the top ladies in barbeque. The Fire & Ice rookie was eager and excited to be a part of such an empowering competition in the barbeque world.

"I'm thrilled with what [Cowboy Charcoal] are doing for us [lady pitmasters]," shared Royer. "It is very much a male-dominated sport and there are so many people who don't realize there are women out there coming up with the recipes and making decisions."

The Fire & Ice finals involved two days and two challenges. The competition kicked off on November 10th with a two-hour "grilling" challenge. Royer's Grilled Tri-Tip paired with Parmesan Crusted Potatoes delighted the judges' taste buds — allowing her to finish in third place.

The next day of competition consisted of a traditional barbeque competition with the contestants preparing the four standard KCBS meats over the course of several hours. Chicken, pork, ribs and beef brisket were each turned in a half hour apart and judged to determine an overall score. Although she gave an admirable performance in the final round, in the end, Royer was unable to claim one of the top spots. She finished seventh overall in the event.

Regardless of her scores, Royer had great things to say about her first-time competing in the Fire & Ice Series and is already making plans for next year.

"If I'm lucky enough to qualify again, I'll definitely be back in Alabama," proclaimed Royer.

As a new lady pitmaster, Royer offered some great advice for fellow newcomers.

"Honestly, what really helped me is taking a couple of classes and talking to the other pitmasters," said Royer. "Take advantage of the expertise around you."