Combining their love of Food, Tradition, and Family is what makes Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ in Austin, Texas tick. Meet Modesty Vidal, a big part of the “family” behind Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ. This Barbecue Wife is a mama to three, a busy entrepreneur, and the kind of gal you just want to hang out with every chance you get.
Modesty will be the first to tell you it takes a village to keep up with their busy day to day, and what a great village of family she has surrounded herself with.
Tell me a little bit about where you are from and where you grew up? I grew up in Garland, Tx. A large suburb outside of Dallas. I went to a large high school. I was in theater in high school, but most of my time was spent working. I got my first job at 15 at Chick-fil-a, and then I started waiting tables at a Mexican restaurant at 16. I have been in restaurants ever since.
What did your parents do? What influence did they have on you in becoming the woman you are today? My grandparents raised me from age 9 and up. My grandmother worked for a telephone company and my grandfather worked in mechanics. They were, and still are, some of the hardest working people I have ever met. Their influence had a major impact on the woman and mother I am today. I give them so much credit for teaching me how to be self sufficient, how to stand up for myself, and how to keep going after my goals until I reached them. At the time, (teenage years) I did not realize the lessons I was learning, but looking back, especially as a parent, I can see it now. The most important lesson I have learned from them, and one that Miguel and I try to pass on to our own children, is if you want something bad enough you can work hard and do whatever it takes to get it. Hard work is what pays off and it is something you can always be proud of.
What were you like as a child? What did you want to be when you grew up? I am the older sister so I was always loud and bossy. Not too much has changed! Ha! I loved being the leader and organizing games with all my friends. As a child, I varied between wanting to be a teacher and just wanting to be "the boss” of a company.
Tell me about the business of barbecue. What do you think people might not know about the day in the life of Modesty Vidal and your role in the family business? The business of BBQ is intense! Most of our food items take over half a day to cook and if something goes wrong, thats so much time and money wasted. This means Miguel is always training the pit guys and he takes an active daily role in the restaurant. I am basically in charge of every thing that doesn't involve cooking. That means staffing, catering & events, social media, press, administration duties, payroll, etc. I have 3 amazing women who work with me on all these things. In turn, that has given me more time to focus on our next huge step of building our full restaurant.
How did you meet your husband? Fun fact we might not know about the Vidal family? Miguel & I met on 6th street! We had an instant connection. I always thought people were silly who said things like that…but once it happens to you, they are right, you just know! We have been married for 12 years and I'm grateful to have found someone as driven, ambitious, and hardworking to go through this life with. Oh, we do have a family motto. Its also posted all around our kitchens. "Don't talk about it. Be about it."
What is the best thing about being in the Barbecue business?
That's easy! The customers! The people who come to our place are literally the BEST! The love we feel from our guests is so humbling every day. I love talking to people who have come for the first time or who are there for the 3rd time and bringing family. It makes my heart so happy to see the love we put in our food being shared with our guests. Our customers are truly like family to us and coming to work and feeling that love from them can turn any bad day around.
What is the worst thing about being in the Barbecue business? How long the food takes to cook! BBQ is an around the clock job. We try to never sell out of food, so our pits are going nonstop. Which means someone is always having to work those tough late night/early morning hours.
How do you juggle being a wife, mother, and entrepreneur? Any advice you can give as a working mom making it all happen every day? Does anyone really juggle it all?! I have a lot of help from family and friends. My sisters all work with us and will help with my kids at the drop of a hat. My in laws are so amazing and have helped us with anything & everything since we started this business. My husband is an awesome Dad and always supportive of helping me when I need it. It truly takes a village to make it all happen. I'm so blessed that I have an amazing support system.
What do you do for fun? I love shopping! Whether its for myself, the kids, supplies for events, anything, I am in for it. I also love going to arcades and skating rinks with Miguel and the kids.
If you were going to give one piece of advice to a young person who wanted to get into the business of barbecue or just "food" in general, what would that be? It's hard work. Don't get in it for the money. I think the reason we have done so well is because we put our heart and soul into our food and our business, not for the money but for the love of the food we are making and the feelings it invokes.
What's next for Modesty Vidal? If you could do something outside of the barbecue business, what would that be? Next step is an event venue. I would love to have a space that would be an all inclusion event space that makes it super easy on the clients.
When you actually get the chance...what do you do with girlfriends on a "Night Out" on the town? I love stand up comedy. We go eat some fancy dinner then get some laughs!
When you have guests in town are there any local restaurants, shops, or favorite attractions you like to direct them to? Pieous is my fave pizza in town! I dream about their desserts every night. I also love Cow Tipping Creamery. If you can't tell, I have a major sweet tooth. If someone has never been to Austin, I direct them to a stroll on South Congress. There's nothing like the views of Soco. Plus, you can get an iced turbo from Jo's (my fave coffee drink!)
If you were to empty out your purse on the table right now, what would we find? So much!! Wallet, shades, receipts, change, makeup, the norm. I usually always have some candy (gotta have bribes for the kids), and I always have a Red Bull.
Is there a local or national charitable cause that you support and would like more people to be aware of? We support our kids schools. Boone Elementary, Covington Middle School, & Ann Richards.
We end each interview with a piece we can share from your kitchen to the reader’s home kitchen. Think of it as sharing a recipe card from one good friend to another. What is a favorite recipe you like to share from your home kitchen when you are entertaining with friends and family?
FRUIT & GRAHAM CRACKER DIP
“This is a super simple recipe, but I love it so much! I can only make it for parties because if I make it at home, I will eat way too much!” ~Modesty
1 pkg 8oz cream cheese
1 jar (7oz) marshmallow cream
1 vanilla bean (can sub 1tsp vanilla extract)
Blend together all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Enjoy with Graham Crackers.
I had the pleasure of joining Modesty for lunch at Valentina’s one afternoon with photographer Wyatt McSpadden. We had a fantastic lunch and a good chat about life, bbq, and the pursuit of happiness. I’d say, Modesty has found her “Happy.”
Till Next Time!
Catherine Stiles @barbecuewife