For too long men have dominated the BBQ scene. It’s time for women to bring their BBQ chops to the table and shape the future of the industry. This is exactly what the following five female BBQ pitmasters are doing — running restaurants, winning contests, and inspiring a new generation of aspiring entrepreneurs.
North Carolina native Elizabeth Karmel has been a trailblazing leader in New York’s BBQ scene. Known as the Grill Girl, she is recognized for her whole-hog BBQ seasoned with signature Lexington-style vinegar BBQ sauce and makes regular appearances as a judge and food critic on TV programs that include Chopped and Iron Chef.
Karmel’s many titles include author, chef, entrepreneur, and media personality. She is the owner of CarolinaCueToGo.com and the executive chef of Hill Country Barbecue Market. In addition to publishing her own books, she is also a regular contributor to publications like Bon Appétit, The American Table, and Better Homes & Gardens.
Turner’s path to BBQ fame started when she began working part-time at a small restaurant and created a smokey sandwich recipe. An old-fashioned, no-nonsense cooking style and an unwavering commitment to running her own restaurant, Helen’s Bar-B-Q in Tennessee, has earned her loyal customers hesitant to place orders with anyone but her.
When Laura Loomis started working as a cashier at her dad’s BBQ station, Two Bros, she had no thought of becoming a pitmaster. But after a year of studying barbecue through cookbooks, online videos, and practice, she developed a system of resting the meat by incorporating Yeti coolers. Her passion and commitment to the craft helped her earn the 2017 Eater Young Guns award.
The Mississippi native started barbecuing in college. After years competing, she opened the Memphis Barbecue Company and began to share her championship flavors with the community. Today, she is the chef and owner of two restaurants, author of a few cookbooks, and a seven-time world BBQ champion.
Texas legend Tootsie Tomanetz is credited with changing the face of Texas’ BBQ scene. It all started when she agreed to fill in for a pit hand on a short-staffed day. One decade of experience later, she started working at Snow’s BBQ where she now cooks BBQ over direct heat on waist-high metal pits with flat, raise-able lids.