The saying “Do what you love and love what you do” could not be truer for Jayce Ho, who has successfully converted her hobby into a full-time job. This self-taught pitmaster loves barbecuing food so much – she attributes it partly to her training as a Girl Guide in secondary school – she decided to make smoked meats her business two and a half years ago. And it’s been a success since day one, with order slots selling out within a minute of being released online. 

Not too shabby for a girl whose only experience was in oil and gas – an industry she worked in for 15 years before she left for the food and beverage industry. 

Jayce Ho smokes her meat using post-oak and sweet hickory wood.
Jayce Ho smokes her meat using post-oak and sweet hickory wood. Photography: Lawrence Teo

Still, success did not come easy. Jayce experimented and failed multiple times before nailing the right “smoking formula” for her products. She also had to contend with “stalkers” in the early days, when she was working out of a shared kitchen. 

“I had people coming up to me to find out about my suppliers and recipes. Some even blocked my way with a trolley to ask these questions, or trespassed into my kitchen to check out my stuff. I was told it’s because I’m a girl. They think it’s easier to approach me. It was scary, but a good life experience. It made me stronger,” notes Jayce. 

Grain-fed USDA Full Packer brisket.
Grain-fed USDA Full Packer brisket. Photography: Lawrence Teo

Her days at work are brutal, and mostly a waiting game. She is in the kitchen by 7am and starts smoking her meat an hour later. Then she waits, sometimes a whole day, for the meat to cook. After that, she rests them (more waiting) before slicing, weighing and packing them up for sale. Patience is a virtue here, a feat that the naturally impatient Jayce is surprised she has. But it’s all worth it, she says, when her customers feel happy and satisfied. 

Her bestsellers are the beef brisket and umami mashed potato – the latter is a recipe that she created to cleanse one’s palate and cut off the cloying taste of meat. As she gets bored very easily, Jayce is always experimenting and pushing herself to try different things. So does this mean that business expansion is on the cards? 

“Baby steps – I don’t dare to think too far. I give myself very small, attainable milestones and goals. I don’t dare to dream too big because the higher the expectation you give yourself, the greater the disappointment. That’s my life philosophy.”

Check out Jayce’s online store at SG Brisket Kitchen.

HAIR & MAKEUP Benedict Choo

Text: Azlinda Said/Her World