Pitmaster Interviews

Interview: Bert Bunte of Zimmerhanzel’s Bar-B-Que

Owner/ Pitmaster: Zimmerhanzel’s Bar-B-Que; Opened 1980 Age: 55 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak Bert Bunte is a man of few words. When I stopped in at Zimmerhanzel’s for this interview, he tried to shove it off onto his wife Dee-Dee, but then finally agreed to talk with me in a short window of down time. After the interview, we went back inside into the pit room. There’s a broken thermometer on the door of the pit. Bunte told…

Interview: Nina Sells of Smitty’s Market

Owner: Smitty’s Market; Opened 1999 Age: 64 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Oak There’s plenty more to Smitty’s Market in Lockhart (formerly Kreuz Market) than the family split that occurred fifteen years ago. Nina Sells grew up in this barbecue joint, and remembers a great deal of the family history. The building itself is a timeline of property acquisition. The original building was built in 1924, but if you’ve eaten there, it was probably in the dining room…

Interview: Ronnie Killen of Killen’s Barbecue

Owner/Pitmaster: Killen’s Barbecue; Opened 2014 Age: 47 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit, Wood-Fired Rotisserie Smoker Wood: Oak, Pecan, Hickory, and Mesquite Last week, we reviewed Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland. It received one of the highest ratings on TMBBQ, which likely wasn’t enough for Ronnie Killen. His goal is to be “The Best Barbecue, Period!” according to the statement printed on the shirts at Killen’s Barbecue. Killen has been working in restaurants for decades. He’s spent most of those years…

Interview: Roy & Tim Hutchins of Hutchins BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Hutchins BBQ; Opened 1978 (current location 1991) Age: Roy 65, Tim 33 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Pecan and Oak Roy Hutchins started his family in the barbecue business in 1978 with a tiny smokehouse in Princeton, Texas. Since then his sons have been involved in running multiple barbecue joints across North Texas, and his youngest son Tim took over the flagship Hutchins BBQ in McKinney in 2005. Since then there have been tragedies to overcome, but…

Interview: Greg Gatlin of Gatlin’s BBQ

Owner/Pitmaster: Gatlin’s BBQ; Opened 2010 Age: 34 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Hickory Greg Gatlin went from breaking up pass plays as a member of the Rice Owls to the world of corporate real estate, but he always knew he wanted to work in the restaurant industry. When the culinary school option evaporated, he dove into the barbecue business with his parents. Four years later, he is one of the state’s most respected pitmasters, and the popularity of his…

Interview: Will Buckman of Corkscrew BBQ

Pitmaster: Corkscrew BBQ; Opened 2011 Age: 35 Smoker: Indirect Heat Wood-Fired Pit Wood: Red Oak “If I’m not here, we’re closed.” That’s why Will Buckman doesn’t take many vacation days away from Corkscrew BBQ. The hours are long, which leaves just a little time each evening for his two young kids, so luckily his wife Nichole is there to put them to bed while Will is singing lullabies to the briskets beside his massive steel pit. Even with all the…

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