Trailblazing Houston performer earns Texas-sized spotlight in new Pepsi series

If someone asked you to identify the taste of Texas, you’d likely be raked over the coals if you didn’t mention barbecue. Now mega brand Pepsi is taking notice of one local up-and-coming barbecue belle as part of its The Taste of Your Texas road-trip campaign and mini documentary series.

Meant to amplify the spirit and diverse stories of trailblazers in food, music, art, and sports that only the Lone Star State could produce, the new campaign kicks off with Pepsi’s virtual road trip around Texas, starting in Austin with a visit with Eliana Gutierrez of Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ, the youngest female pitmaster in the country.

In Gutierrez’s documentary spotlight, filmmaker Matt Rainwaters chronicles how the 21-year-old apprentice helped turn a modest gas station food truck into one of the most popular neighborhood barbecue destinations in Austin, rising to smoked-meat stardom along the way. Alongside Valentina’s chef and restaurateur Miguel Vidal, Gutierrez has become a maestro of meat butchering and flame management, with Pepsi noting she is paving the way and fanning the flames for more young women in the barbecue scene.

The mini docuseries will be available to view beginning Wednesday, April 14 at And in celebration, Valentina’s and Gutierrez are doing what they do best: putting meat to heat. In partnership with Pepsi, beginning at 11 am on April 14, Valentina’s will serve up its to-die-for brisket tacos — for free — along with an ice-cold Pepsi to the first 1,000 customers of the day, or until those scrumptious supplies run out, at its 11500 Menchaca Rd. neighborhood spot.

Valentina’s devotees who miss the freebies (Seriously, do you have anything better to do on a Wednesday morning than score free brisket tacos?) can access a special recipe from chef Vidal on the website: Mango Pepsi chile-grilled Tejano chicken tacos, inspired by the new Pepsi Mango flavor.

After the stop in Austin, Pepsi’s Texas road trip moves on to Houston, highlighting country, R&B, and rap musician Fat Tony and the exclusive music video for his latest single, “Gambling Man (Mariachi Remix).”

The road trip continues on to the San Antonio area, where another rising female star is roping in lots of interest. There, Pepsi will spotlight 21-year-old Jordan Maldonado, a roper, cattle breeder and Miss Rodeo Texas 2019 who is redefining what it means to be a beauty queen. Inspired by the barrel-horse-wrangling, tiara-topped Maldonado, Pepsi will contribute a $20,000 scholarship during the next five years to the Miss Rodeo Texas Association in an effort to help elevate the next generation of young rodeo women.

Finally, the Pepsi Texas road trip will trek up to Dallas to feature Michoacan, Mexico-born artist Mariell Guzman, whose technicolor murals and focus on her heritage and cultural themes have helped her shine in the male-dominated mural scene.

“With thousands of PepsiCo employees based all over Texas, we have a deep understanding and appreciation of the Lone Star State’s unmistakable spirit because it’s an integral part of our everyday culture,” says Julie Raheja-Perera, vice president of marketing for PepsiCo Beverages North America, central division. “Today, we’re thrilled to shine a light on four extraordinary Texans as they share their unbridled pride through their distinctive self-expression — and encourage all Texans to join in and tell their own unique stories.”

As part of the campaign, Pepsi is encouraging all Texans to share their own favorite tastes of Texas on social media by highlighting a revered family recipe or hidden local gem and the using the hashtag #TasteOfMyTexas.

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