On the inaugural episode of Fire & Smoke,the Texas Monthly barbecue podcast, barbecue editor and host Daniel Vaughn explores one of the most beloved figures in Texas barbecue, the celebrated pitmaster at Snow’s, Tootsie Tomanetz.
Norma Frances “Tootsie” Tomanetz may be the most unassuming star in the barbecue universe. Earlier this year, when she was named a semifinalist for a coveted James Beard Award in the best chef category for the Southwest region, she reacted the way she always does when people shower her with acclaim: she said thank you, shrugged, and got back to work. That is, she got back to her day job as a maintenance worker with the Giddings school system. The barbecue she does on the side. “I’m the old country girl,” she told Vaughn for an article he wrote about her in 2016, “and I like the low profile.”
But there’s no denying her ability in the pits, or, as this episode reveals, the respect she has among barbecue snobs. Last year we named Snow’s (for the second time) the top barbecue joint in Texas, and the remarkable story of the 82-year-old pitmaster behind its success never gets old.
If you haven’t been to Lexington to experience Snow’s in all its Saturday-morning glory, you owe it to yourself to make it out there. It’s summer now, after all, and it’s road trip season. What are you waiting for?