Food News

Guy Fieri's Son, Hunter, Talks Up New Show About Texas Gas Station Barbecue

Texas Best Smokehouse in Italy, Texas, is featured in Hunter Fieri's new series.
Texas Best Smokehouse in Italy, Texas, is featured in Hunter Fieri's new series. Food Network
Food runs deep in the Fieri family. After appearing on his dad’s shows, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Guy’s Grocery Games, Hunter Fieri is charting his own course with a new show, Station Nation.

Station Nation will be a road-trip style cooking show with Hunter Fieri, the “Prince of Flavortown,” visiting restaurants located in Shell gas stations to try their food and to shed light on unassuming, hidden gems. Shell is sponsoring the show, which so far has documented six locations.

“What was interesting about all this is how the evolution of food in gas stations has changed so much in the past couple of years,” Hunter Fieri says. “Going from frozen food and hot dogs, and, you know, warm, ready-to-go burritos to legitimate meals, and like good meals.”

Gas station food has come a long way in some locations. Fieri wants to get the word out.

“It’s shining light on these chefs who maybe didn't have all the money or experience to go open a big brick-and-mortar,” he continues. “It's a good way to get their foot in the door and show the world what they're capable of.”

One of these restaurants is Texas Best Smokehouse in Italy, off Interstate 35 East in Ellis County. This family-owned business serves slow-cooked meats and jerkies.

“They make their own beef jerky right next door, and it's the legit, cowboy, dry beef jerky. I love it,” Fieri says.

Gas station food tends to cut corners, but not Texas Best, which lives up to its name. Hunter explains, “With barbecue, there's so many corners that can be cut to increase your profit. Less cost, quicker production: they don't do it. They smoke for real, and they do the real job.”

When asked what sets Texas barbecue apart from other regions, Hunter talked about how dynamic and varied barbecue can be depending on location. “Throughout the country, barbecue changes from each place. Like, for example, tri-tip: that was a West Coast barbecue thing and didn't hit the East Coast really until a few years ago," he says. "Texas barbecue is definitely more like a mesquite wood, salt and pepper heavily, you know, thick crust on the brisket.”

Texas Best Smokehouse specializes in brisket, which is the dish Fieri would like to go back for. “I had probably about six of those brisket tacos, so definitely recommend going for those and getting a little bit of that spicy barbecue on there. Those are pretty money.”

Having grown up appearing in his dad’s shows, does he still get nervous appearing on camera?

“You know, I love it. It’s a great way for me to take everything that I've learned thus far from my dad, from our producers, from all of our friends surrounding television and the culinary world,” he says. “I still get nervous sometimes, of course. But my thing is, if you don't ever get nervous, then maybe you're not doing a good job.”

Hunter is following in his dad’s footsteps, but he is doing it in his own way. Asked if he showed up to the restaurants in a red convertible like his dad on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Hunter says, “I thought about it. I thought about it, but I’m like no, I can’t do that. Maybe next time I’ll show up in my own Camaro.”

Viewers who want to watch Station Nation can find the show on Hunter’s social media, Food Network and Shell’s social media, on the Station Nation website and on the Food Network app.

For Hunter, visiting Texas Best Smokehouse is a no-brainer. “You’ve got to fill up for gas. Might as well make one stop and win.”

Texas Best Smokehouse is at 1020 Dale Evans Drive, Italy.
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Jack Moraglia is the Observer's food intern for Fall 2022. A master of journalism student at UNT, Jack writes about various topics relating to food and culture. You can likely find him at a craft brewery with a large pretzel and a hazy IPA.
Contact: Jack Moraglia

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