LEXINGTON, Texas—Texas barbecue has been in the spotlight for the last decade, thanks in part to Texas Monthly’s picks of the best barbecue joints across the state.
In Lexington, Snow’s BBQ has made the list twice, taking the coveted number one spot.
But, it’s the person behind the pits that really put Snow’s on the map—the Queen of Barbecue.
If you spend any time with Tootsie Tomanetz, you’ll see that she puts her heart into everything she does.
She works five days a week at Giddings Independent School District for the Grounds and Maintenance Department.
“I take a lot of pride in my work here,” said Tomanetz.
At 83-years-old, she’s still going strong.
“I’ve just got a lot of energy,” she said.
Miss Tootsie, as she’s know across town, has become quite the celebrity.
But, not just for her work at the school district.
It’s when she’s fanning the flames of her other passion—over the pits.
“I’m very fond of barbecue,” said Tomanetz.
Miss Tootsie is the pitmaster at Snow’s Barbecue.
“I enjoy being around people,” she said. “I like to make a nice product and make people happy,” she added.
Snow’s has become a mecca for meat lovers. Fans and first-timers line up before dawn every Saturday.
Kevin Liu came all the way from California- and it’s his second trip.
“It was four years ago, and we booked another trip from San Francisco just for this,” said Liu.
But it’s not just for that menagerie of meat.
They come in droves to see the grand dame of pitmasters, the queen of barbecue—Miss Tootsie.
“Seeing Miss Tootsie is one of the reasons I came,” said Mary Stevens who came from Bryan to try out the barbecue.
Tomanetz ran a meat market for over 20 years before she got started at Snow’s.
“We also had barbecue just on Saturday,” she said.
She promised her loyal customers that she’d one day continue that tradition.
“I’ve committed myself and I’m a person that doesn’t go back on my word,” said Tomanetz.
So, when Kerry Bexley had the idea to open Snow’s 15 years ago, he talked Miss Tootsie into becoming the first lady of the pits.
And now, that Saturday tradition of barbecue in Lexington lives on.
It’s a tradition where strangers become fast friends and leave more like family.
“I mean for a lot of them that's part of their experience, waiting in line with a big group of people and having drinks and visiting and meeting new people,” said Bexley.
And, for the star pit-master she’s become quite a celebrity.
“There's not many today that I can keep up with her. At 83 years old, she’s inspiring to keep your gears on,” said Bexley.
Yet, Miss Tootsie is still the same small- town girl from Lexington, Texas.
“I was raised up in on the farm and I appreciate anything that comes my way,” she said.
And, she’s forever grateful and humbled for the opportunity to serve others.
“It’s through God's help that I've achieved this great success,” said Tomanetz.
“I love all my people,” she added.
The spotlight continues to shine on Miss Tootsie. She will be inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame later this year.