On an overheated Saturday in early October, I drove Roy Perez, the venerable pitmaster at Kreuz Market in Lockhart, and Kreuz Market owner Keith Schmidt to Snow’s BBQ in Lexington. Snow’s, a tiny barbecue joint in a tiny town, is often mentioned as one of the best barbecue destinations in the state. Of course, Kreuz Market vies for the same title and has been a legendary barbecue purveyor for more than a century.
Roy is the first pitmaster I photographed nearly 25 years ago. Since then, as I created images for two photography books on Texas barbecue, I’ve had the honor to make more pictures of Roy along with photographs of dozens more folks who do the hot, hard work of making Texas barbecue the best in the world.
Even though Roy remains one of my favorite subjects, I will admit that in the past six years, a rival for my lens’s attention has charmed me through several sessions. She is a grand woman named Tootsie Tomanetz, who handles much of the cooking in the early hours of every Saturday in Lexington. Now in her 80s, Tootsie’s fame rivals that of Roy. But neither one lets the acclaim go to their head.
Tootsie arrives at Snow’s well before sunup each Saturday and works through lunchtime, exhibiting her natural work ethic as well as a genuine love of people and the pit skills she has honed over decades.
I had set the goal to deliver Roy to Snow’s for lunch, so he could meet his fellow barbecue icon, Miss Tootsie. Roy is not widely traveled but agreed to go along. Once Roy, Keith and I arrived in Lexington, we were greeted by Snow’s owner, Kerry Bexley. We enjoyed a brilliant sampling of Snow’s smoked goodies.
After lunch, we took a few minutes to capture this image of two barbecue legends who will live forever in the barbecue museum that exists only in my mind.