AUSTIN – Patience is key if you’re practicing the art of grilling and smoking Texas barbecue. For Eiliana Gutierrez, 20, of Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, it’s all about working with the fire and “slowing down.”
“Being able to control that flavor, the smoke,” Gutierrez said. “All of that comes together and then you get the perfect slice of brisket on the Holyfield taco.”
Gutierrez is learning from her mentor, Miguel Vidal, owner of Valentina’s.
“She started when she was 17, she’s now 20 and with the departure of some of my family members, she’s kind of filled in this role and this gap,” Vidal said. “She came in full of spunk and energy, ready to go at it and work.”
After seeing her work ethic, Vidal assured Gutierrez that he could make her the youngest female pitmaster in Texas and even the country.
“It’s taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears, literally,” Gutierrez said.
Spending her days living up to Miguel, Gutierrez is passionate about smoking meats and perfecting the relationship with the fire.
“Hecho con amor” means everything is made with love here at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ and Gutierrez says “we really live by that.”
Vidal and his wife, Modesty, have taken in Gutierrez as their own and together they all continue to thrive with their “tejano cooking” style that’s bringing in visitors from all over the world.