This article is part of a series that spotlights Texas pitmasters in their own words, available exclusively to TM BBQ Club members.

Grant Pinkerton was introduced to competition barbecue at a young age, and the rest was history. He opened up Pinkerton’s Barbecue back in 2016—at only 27—and quickly made a name for himself in the highly competitive Houston barbecue scene. After only a year in business—when he also landed a spot on Texas Monthly’s 2017 Top 50 list—Pinkerton made history as the first pitmaster to be recognized by Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list. Pinkerton made the Top 50 again in 2021, but this time with his San Antonio location. If the past is any indication, there is much more in store for this Texas pitmaster.

Tell us about the first person who taught you about barbecue.

I really learned barbecue on my own—with the help of the Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook—when I was 12 years old on a Weber Smokey Mountain.

Do you remember a backyard, a barbecue joint, or an experience that ignited your barbecue obsession?

I was 11 or 12 with my Dad at his coworker’s team tent at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo BBQ World Championship. I was given some ribs, and they were like nothing I had ever eaten—tender, sweet, smokey—they pulled away clean from the bone. I just remember thinking “Oh my Lord… I have to figure out how to cook ribs like this.”

What message are you trying to share with your customers through your food?

No message, no agenda. Just good food and cold drinks.

As a professional pitmaster, are you a BBQ Freak just like the rest of us? What makes you a BBQ Freak?

I don’t know if I’d say “FREAK,” but I enjoy the hell out of it. I like makin’ it even more than I like eatin’ it.

When was the last time you ate someone else’s barbecue?

Last week at Coastal Que BBQ in Matagorda, Texas.

What’s the most surprising barbecue dish you’ve eaten?

Barbecue Spaghetti. It sounds gross, but it’s actually pretty good.

What’s the best beverage to wash down barbecue?

Water with lemon juice. The acid helps cut that feeling of fullness!

What’s a tool you use in cooking that might not seem like an obvious barbecue tool?

A white kitchen rag is an absolutely essential item.

What recommendations do you have for someone new to Texas ’cue?

Get some stretchy pants.

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