Jessie Kresa is a gracious cook with a penchant for chatter. ODB is a pugnacious vamp with a stiff Boston crab.
Kresa grew up as a self-professed “good girl” from a Maple Grove hockey family, but it wasn’t until she adopted the wrestling persona of ODB that she became her truest self, a self she describes as the female Stone Cold Steve Austin. For those unfamiliar with WWE, picture the wily bartender at a roadside dive—the type that can flirt dirtier than the boys and would just as soon drag you out by your collar if you tried to play Journey on the jukebox.
Unsurprisingly, ODB knows good eatin’, and when Kresa hung up her boots in 2014, the five-time Total Nonstop Action Wrestling champion decided to take her persona’s fun-loving bawdiness to the kitchen.
Late in her career, she developed a line of whiskey-based barbecue sauces as a way to keep the ODB brand alive post-TNA. It was a success, and in 2016, she opened a food truck called ODB’s Meat and Greet in Daytona Beach, Florida. And on April 24, she’s ending a three-year promotional tour to bring her truck to her hometown of Maple Grove at Omni Brewing. Other local events will follow.
“I thought it was time to go home,” Kresa says. “That was the main goal, to bring my business home once I’d established it. It’s time to do that.”
Kresa cooks the way she wrestles—no fancy moves, just bare-knuckle execution. Naturally, ODB isn’t slingin’ kale and orzo out of her mobile kitchen. ODB’s Meat and Greet serves down-home barbecue, the kind that any mark can enjoy. Kresa slow cooks her own pork butt for 10 hours in her personal “big ass” smoker. Her top seller is a pulled-pork bowl called Cup of Meat. It comes in three sizes: B, C, and DD.
“I always wanted to see how far I could cross the line,” Kresa says, the sneer of ODB breaking through.
Kresa developed the character of ODB when she was training with Eddie Sharkey in St. Louis Park. She’d come up short in the tryouts for the first season of Tough Enough—a reality show where amateurs competed for a job in WWE—and so she looked up the storied trainer to try to build an on-screen character producers couldn’t deny. She was the only woman working in the gym at the time, and her experience locking up with male wrestlers like Shawn Daivari, Ken Anderson, and Austin Aries helped bring out something her brother had seen in her at a young age. She branded herself ODB (short for One Dirty Bitch), transforming her sibling’s adolescent jab into a redneck badge of honor.
“ODB is a person you can relate to,” Kresa says. “I can sit and have a drink with you and talk real. It’s crazy, but it’s also laid-back. It’s like, ‘Holy shit, she really just did that?’”
Kresa got her start in 2003 in TNA, an Orlando-based promotion that’s still WWE’s biggest competitor today. She bounced from there to WWE developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling, where she was the first-ever Women’s Champion, but she soon found herself back in Orlando. In 2009, she won her first TNA Women’s Knockout Championship, getting over as a fan favorite. Over the next five years with TNA, she’d win that belt three more times, and she’d also reign as TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion for a still-record 478 days.
But her relationship with TNA was always tumultuous. Not only was the company in near-constant financial trouble, but it lacked consistent leadership and creative direction. Kresa left TNA several times during her tenure, working shows at independent promotions between her stints, but there was no solid future in continuing. Plus, she’d seen how wrestling can ruin your body over time, so when an opportunity to translate ODB to the culinary world presented itself, Kresa cinched in like a full nelson.
“I’ll go to these wrestling conventions, and I see these wrestlers that are legends, and I’ll be like, ‘Oh crap, they didn’t do anything with themselves.’ I didn’t want to end up like that,” Kresa says. “I never wanted people to be like, ‘Oh, that’s ODB? Yikes.’”
Kresa’s break came after she made an appearance on Joey Fatone’s cooking show, My Family Recipe Rocks. On the episode, she invited the former N*SYNC baritone to the mobile home park in Clear Lake where she’d been living in her Airstream, showing Fatone how to rustle up bean dip, walking tacos, and bloody Marys using only campground wherewithal. It was a magnanimous performance, and soon after, a manufacturer reached out to her about putting her name on a line of sauces. She insisted they be made with a whiskey base.
“I’d never really thought about it, but I knew my wrestling was about to come to an end,” Kresa says. “But I’d always been into cooking since I was little, cooking and camping and entertaining people.”
Kresa got in her Airstream and began circling the country promoting her sauces at conventions, leveraging connections in the wrestling business to book events. In 2016, Jimmy Hart, the famous loudmouth wrestling personality who once managed Hulk Hogan, reached out. He wanted her to come to Daytona Beach and help manage his new wrestling-themed tiki bar.
After running the kitchen at Hart’s restaurant for a year, Kresa began exploring options for a food truck. That way, she could revive the road-dog lifestyle she’d perpetuated as ODB all while providing a roving showcase for her sauces.
ODB’s Meat and Greet launched at Bike Week in 2017, and the truck has been a main-event-level draw at every event it’s rolled into since. That’s because it’s as much about wrestling as it is food service. The name “Meat and Greet” plays on those one-on-one convention appearances where fans can pay $15 for a handshake with a legend and a signed headshot. But that’s not ODB’s style. On April 24 at Omni, not only will she be serving up the sliders and nachos that remind you of home, but while the fryer is doing its magic, she’ll be leaning in the window, dishing on her time as a champion in the wrestling business.
“It’s funny to see the fans come up to the food truck, and they say, ‘Oh damn, I didn’t know you were really gonna be here, you really do it!’” Kresa says. “It’s just me on the truck. I’m no barbecue pitmaster, but I have stories, and I know how to cook.”
Update: A previous version of this story said the truck is at Omni on April 25. It's actually there on Tuesday, April 24.