These 4 BBQ legends have forged their paths from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of grilling greatness.
I unravel the stories of their childhood, the sparks that ignited their passion for BBQ, and their journeys to become the pitmasters they are today.
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Tootsie Tomanetz: From a Flame to Royalty
Tootsie Tomanetz is a legendary pitmaster from Texas, known for her mouth-watering Hill Country barbecue. She was born on May 31, 1938, in Lexington, Texas.
Tootsie’s Early Life
Tootsie grew up on a farm and learned to cook from her mother. She later worked as a custodian at Giddings High School for over 20 years.
In her free time, she would help her husband, White Tomanetz, with his barbecue catering business.
Tootsie’s BBQ Career
Tootsie’s love for barbecue grew as she began to experiment with different techniques and flavors.
In 1966, she started working at City Meat Market in Giddings, where she learned to smoke meat over post oak. She later became the pitmaster at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, which was named the best barbecue joint in Texas by Texas Monthly in 2008 and Food Network’s 10 Best Restaurants in America in 2014.
Tootsie’s barbecue is known for its tender meat, smoky flavor, and perfect bark.
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She uses a combination of post oak and mesquite wood to smoke her meat and has a secret rub that she uses on her brisket. She is also known for her pork steak, which is mopped with a vinegar-based sauce.
Tootsie’s dedication to her craft and her love for barbecue has earned her numerous awards and recognition. She was inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame in 2018 and was featured in an episode of Chef’s Table: BBQ on Netflix.
Tootsie’s legacy lives on through her family and the countless pitmasters she has inspired. She has been a mentor to many young pitmasters and has helped to preserve the tradition of Texas barbecue.
Rodney Scott is a renowned pitmaster and co-owner of Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, South Carolina, Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia.
He is best known for his whole hog barbecue, which he learned from his family while growing up in Hemingway, South Carolina.
Rodney’s Early Life
Rodney Scott was born in 1971 in Hemingway, South Carolina. He grew up in a family of pitmasters and learned the art of whole hog barbecue from his parents.
His family owned and operated Scott’s Bar-B-Que, which was established in 1972 and is still in operation today.
Rodney Scott began his BBQ career at the age of 11, when he started helping his family at Scott’s Bar-B-Que.
He continued to work at the family business throughout his teenage years and eventually became the pitmaster.
In 2016, he opened his own restaurant, Rodney Scott’s BBQ, in Charleston, South Carolina.
Rodney Scott’s BBQ quickly gained national recognition, and in 2018, he won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southeast. He has also been featured in the Netflix series Chef’s Table: BBQ, where he discusses his passion for whole hog barbecue.
Rodney Scott’s legacy is his commitment to preserving the art of whole hog barbecue. He uses traditional methods and techniques that have been passed down through generations of pitmasters.
He is also known for his dedication to his community and his willingness to mentor young pitmasters.
In addition to his BBQ skills, Rodney Scott is also a talented musician and plays the drums in his spare time. He continues to operate his restaurants and share his love for whole hog barbecue with the world.
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Pat Martin is a renowned pitmaster and the founder of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, a chain of barbecue restaurants in Tennessee.
He is known for his expertise in traditional pit-cooking techniques and his commitment to using high-quality, locally sourced ingredients.
His Early Life
Pat Martin grew up in West Tennessee, where he developed a love for barbecue at an early age.
His family owned a small grocery store, and he spent many hours helping his grandfather cook meat in a cinder-block pit behind the store. This experience inspired him to pursue a career in barbecue.
His BBQ Career
After working in various restaurants and honing his skills, Pat Martin opened his first barbecue joint in 2006 in Nolensville, Tennessee.
He quickly gained a reputation for his delicious, slow-smoked meats and his commitment to using only the best ingredients.
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Over the years, Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint has expanded to several locations throughout Tennessee and has been featured in numerous national publications, including Bon Appétit and Food & Wine.
Pat Martin has also appeared on several cooking shows, including BBQ Pitmasters and Beat Bobby Flay.
Pat Martin’s legacy in the world of barbecue is one of excellence and innovation. He is constantly experimenting with new techniques and flavors, while staying true to the traditional pit-cooking methods that he learned as a child.
He is also committed to using sustainable, locally sourced ingredients, which has helped to support local farmers and businesses.
Today, Pat Martin continues to run Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint and is dedicated to passing on his knowledge and passion for barbecue to the next generation of pitmasters.
He remains a beloved figure in the Tennessee barbecue community and an inspiration to barbecue enthusiasts everywhere.
Aaron Franklin is an absolute legend, especially when it comes to smoking brisket. He’s the owner of Franklin Barbecue and the host of BBQ with Franklin.
His Early Life
Aaron Franklin was born in Bryan, Texas, in 1977. He grew up in a family that loved to cook and grill, and his parents owned a barbecue restaurant.
Franklin learned to cook from his father, who taught him the basics of smoking meat. He also learned from his grandfather, who was a butcher.
Aaron’s BBQ Career
Franklin started his career in barbecue by working at a local barbecue joint in his hometown.
He later moved to Austin and opened his own barbecue trailer in 2009, which eventually turned into the famous Franklin Barbecue restaurant. He quickly gained a reputation for his brisket, which was hailed as some of the best in Texas.
Franklin’s success led to numerous awards and accolades, including being named the best barbecue joint in America by Bon Appétit magazine in 2015. He has also written a cookbook, appeared on numerous TV shows, and even won a James Beard Award.
Franklin’s impact on the world of barbecue cannot be overstated. He has helped to elevate barbecue to a level of culinary excellence, and his techniques and recipes have been widely emulated.
He has also been a mentor to many up-and-coming pitmasters, and has helped to spread the gospel of Texas barbecue around the world.
In addition to his contributions to the world of barbecue, Franklin is also known for his philanthropy. He has raised thousands of dollars for various charities, including Hurricane Harvey relief efforts and the Southern Smoke Foundation.
Aaron Franklin is a true legend in the world of barbecue, and his impact will be felt for years to come.
Who Is Next?
These pitmasters have etched their names in BBQ history. Their legendary journeys inspire us to stoke the flames of passion, embrace our culinary heritage, and strive for greatness in every smokey bite.
Let their stories remind us that BBQ is not just about the food—it’s a celebration of tradition, community, and the pursuit of flavor. Go create your own epic stories, forging new flavors, and leaving an indelible mark on the grilling world.
For in the world of BBQ, the fire never truly dies—it merely transforms, passing down through generations, and inspiring a new breed of pitmasters to carry on the smokey tradition.
Are there any other BBQ legends you think I should add to this list? Let me know!