Texans know BBQ. Every home town has at least one go-to. It’s distinctive from town to town and smoker to smoker. It could be a brick and mortar restaurant, Sunday church chicken, or George’s smoker out back. BBQ as a genre itself has factions and layers. You think you’ve found the fiercest pit boss with the best method? Look, we could talk about smoke rings and dry rubs all day. I’m here to tell you there are Texas women mastering the craft.
In Texas, everyone thinks their daddy makes the best ribs. Well, let’s flip the switch on that this month. We talked to award winning and legacy carrying women pitmasters. They took the bull by the horns and so should you. Don’t leave the BBQ up to the men this year, I’m giving you a recipe for Father’s Day. And if the home pit is not for you, don’t worry. These pitbosses and their grit might inspire you in another way. They are Texas women after all.
Snow’s BBQ, Lexington
516 Main St, Lexington, TX 78947
“Go big or go home!” To borrow the adage from my sis-in-law, Pam, this was my inspiration action plan to create the best Father’s day BBQ for the Dad’s in my family.
My journey began with a trip to Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas and a personal visit with Pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz. A two-times nominated James Beard Award Semi-finalist, Tootsie has become renowned as the strong octogenarian in charge of turning out notable brisket, sausage, chicken, and pork at Snow’s. If you are a Chef’s Table follower, you may have caught her featured in the first episode of 2020.
I am honored to say I know Tootsie personally as she and I attend the Hannes Family Reunion every year in Giddings, Texas where she resides. Her late husband is one of my Hannes cousins. Always humble, claiming to “just be from the country”, she never hesitates to give credit to God for her path in life and many accolades.
Tootsie began her BBQ career accidentally when she was called in to help a short handed issue by Giddings, Texas City Meat Market owner and close friend Hershel Doyle. So, she joined her husband “White” Tomanetz who also worked there and ten years later she was still there, helping at the pit, in the slaughter room, and the fresh meat store.
Expanding to the meat market in Lexington, Texas, Tootsie and her husband White, ran that location for several years. One day, Kerry Bexley came into the store and asked if Tootsie would join him at a new BBQ restaurant slated to open March 1st 2003. Open only on Saturdays from 8 AM until they run out of meat, the hours were originally to coincide with a weekly Saturday livestock auction down the street.
A two-times nominated James Beard Award Semi-finalist, Tootsie has become renowned as the strong octogenarian in charge of turning out notable brisket, sausage, chicken, and pork at Snow’s. If you are a Chef’s Table follower, you may have caught her featured in the first episode of 2020.
Tootsie specifically hit top billing by being inducted into the 2018 Barbecue Hall of Fame. When referring to this award and being a James Beard Semi-finalist, she says, “I didn’t even know what those awards were until I received them”. She maintains that the best part of her profession is “the feeling I get when I see people sit down to eat our BBQ and take that first bite and its just a glow that comes out on their face and expression of how wonderful it tastes and how good it is,”
So you ask, what’s the secret to her BBQ? Tootsie shares, “We treat ours with TLC.” “That is just something that we have been careful to maintain with all the growth that has come with recognition.”
“I only use salt and pepper”. On chicken, spare ribs, and pork I use a mop which consists of water, onions, butter, mustard, worcestershire sauce, and vinegar” She is quick to add that at the old church picnics they use lemons instead of vinegar. “I love that, but I just stick to using vinegar.”
So, now you know.
Feel free to take these “mop” ingredients and create your own special sauce. The sky’s the limit, and who knows – you may invent your own named sauce!