At first glance, you might be blinded by the sheer majesty of Jim Stacy's beard. But be not afraid. The gentleman behind Pallookaville corn dogs, the Get Delicious! special on PBA, the Starlight Six drive-in, and a future endeavor named Pigmata is worth getting to know. Here, Jim tells us all about the famous Fryenstein, the strangest thing he's ever cooked in cornbread, and the perfect meal-weapon combination in case of social breakdown. Catch the corndog wagon at Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse and, in just a few weeks, Cabbagetown's Chomp 'n Stomp. Then lie awake at night thinking about what you'll be purchasing from Pigmata. That's how we plan to do things.
SCOUT: Howdy, Jim. First, please introduce yourself and tell our readers how they might know you.
Jim: I'm Jim Stacy. I was born and raised in Atlanta. I've also been known as Prof. Jas. M. Stacy and the Reverend Uncle Laffo, among others. I lived in Athens for 13 years after high school, where I had a restaurant called the Downstairs, I toured with my band The Labrea Stompers and BIG TOP, and I bartended at the Manhattan Cafe. I tattooed at Pain and Wonder before coming back to Atlanta.
Here, I tattooed at Black Cat Tattoo, owned the Star Bar and currently run the Starlight Six Drive In Theatre. I have had the bands Grand Moff Tarkin, Yule Log and Greasepaint here and currently perform in AM Gold, The Downer Brothers, Blast Off Burlesque and The Silver Scream Spookshow. I'm also Really Big Santa. I have a PBS show called Get Delicious currently on PBA 30 and I run Pallookaville Gourmet Carnival Foods. That's all me.
SCOUT: Some would consider your corndog wagon, Pallookaville, one of the original gangsters of street food in Atlanta, pre-food truck revolution.
Jim: I was one of the first along with The Pickle and a couple of others. I started out of a vintage Popcorn Wagon I bought off eBay out of Texas. She's just been refitted back into a Popcorn concession. After doing two festival seasons out of it, I decided to buy a Truck and make a kitchen out of it. It was too hard keeping up in that little cart. Six months and a pile of second hand gear and scrap metal, and I have a better appointed kitchen than most folks. I can sling great piles of food out of that window. That and I did all the work and engineering myself with some help from some good pals.
I don't have any need to be recognized as the first, or an innovator. Jack Walsh and Gordon Ray (the producers of Get Delicious) did a segment on Pallookaville for This Is Atlanta! early on. I'll always cherish their interest and faith in what I was doing, enough to make that segment. Not only did it give me a record of what I was doing, it put Pallookaville out for everyone to see. it also lead to us making Get Delicious together.
SCOUT: Any thoughts on the whole food truck scene in general?
Jim: The new movement with Food Trucks is fine. I think some are exceedingly clever and serve good food. I think some are lazy and piss-poor. There are some trucks that are doing great things in food, that look beautiful and are assets to the City.
Then there are those that are making pedestrian fare, at best, and are ugly vehicles. The bad and ugly usually go hand-in-hand, ironically. I feel like some of the trucks are truly honest endeavors and some are crass attempts to jump on a trend.
I get requests to help someone "build a truck" constantly. I've gotten to the point where I offer a consulting service if they'd like to pay. No one wants to do that though. What I'm saying is this... I didn't have any help. Do the research and build it yourself if this is what you want to do. THAT is the spirit behind the movement. DIY.
Those "fashion, opportunistic carpetbagger Trucks" are what will kill the movement.
When the pool starts getting over-saturated three things will happen:
1. The public will burn out.
2. Infighting will start among the vendors
3. There will be a ton of vehicles for sale, because the bums realize that IT IS INSANELY HARD WORK.
It's already playing out in the Food Truck scene in Los Angeles like that. I stay out of the "Food Truck" clique because I was here before it started, and I'll be here after it's done. I also keep my appearances very carefully picked to maintain a sense of mystique about the food. People have to wait for and search out and savor the Pallookaville meal - that keeps it a craved commodity. Does that hurt my name recognition? Sure. Do I make less moolah? Sure. I don't care - I want my corndogs to stay elusive - The UNICORNDOG as it were.
SCOUT: What does Pallookaville have going on with the Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse right now?
Jim: I'm doing the fair food for Atlanta's premier Zombie Horror Attraction. Turkey Legs, Sausage and Peppers, Corndogs, Boiled Peanuts and Half Sour pickles all made from scratch and to order. That's the key... made to order and by hand.
SCOUT: Do you think that Pallookaville corn dogs are indeed the perfect survival food in a post-apocalyptic world?
Jim: Absolutely! Not only is the Pallookaville Prime vehicle in the process of getting off the grid, no lie, my Corndogs are made on pencil-thick birch stakes, sharpened to a deadly point. Dinner and a Weapon, I've always said. Soon all our electrics will be run off Deep Cycle Marine Batteries and Solar Power (I just installed the first panel this week) and the Truck itself will run off its own fry oil. The only fuel we'll use from the "Man" will be our Propane. As soon as I figure out what to use other than that, we'll have a completely self sufficient, independent, post apocalyptic Snack Tank.
"Two days ago I saw a Corndog Wagon that would still make food. You wanna a Snack? You talk to me."
SCOUT: Given the choice, do you think a zombie would go for a Fryinstein over fresh brain matter?
Jim: They will and have and they do. "Coooorrrrnnnddogthhh...."
SCOUT: What's your personal favorite menu item, and how did you come up with the Fryinstein?
Jim: I think my favorite is the Fryinstein in pepper batter. Our Sausage and Peppers is also a fave on mine, and I think one of the best ever made. I actually dreamed the entire menu.
SCOUT: Speaking of over-the-top menu items, what is the oddest food you've ever wrapped in cornbread before?
Jim: An iPod.
SCOUT: I think deep down inside, we'd all prefer corndogs and funnel cakes over whatever's happening on Top Chef. Why is carnival food so damn delicious?
Jim: I'm an authority on Fair Food. Most kinda sucks and now there's a trend to gimmick it up. Fried butter, fried pizza, fried Coke. It's stupid. You know what's good? Food that someone and their family makes outside on the Midway, out of a truck that is actually made with care, intelligence and honesty. That is what makes Fair Food good to me. Just like some of the Food Trucks, it isn't hard to see the fools on the Fair Ground just in it for a quick buck.
Now, Top Chef - geeze - I've worked in Fancy Kitchens, I've had the Fancy Dan menus to both prepare and be prepared for me. I am disappointed more often with that style cuisine and that aesthetic than I am with an old school Meat and 3 every time. This is America. Obsess and seek out whatever the hell makes you happy - why should my opinion be the only one? That's the point of Get Delicious. I give a voice and forum for those restauranteurs and workers who don't get the Top Chef attention. It is about THEM. Their works, their struggles, the triumphs they produce out of an old kitchen with ancient equipment, year in and year out. That's what I care about. I want good collards and fried chicken. You can stick your Michelin Stars. Who cares? The folks making SOUL FOOD are my heroes. No question.
SCOUT: Tell us a little about Pigmata, your plans for Chomp 'n Stomp, and some of the other plans you have coming up.
Pigmata is my new artisan smoked and cured meat endeavor I'm starting up. Big Mike Geier of Kingsized and I came up with the name as a joke and I always swore I would use it. I cooked with him with he was doing Gato de Noche at Gato Bisco in Candler Park. Hands down one of the best comedy and cooking shows a patron could witness while they ate. It was a magic little time there.
Anyhoo, this is what I'm planning on doing during the winters. I just built the ultimate pit (the build diary is on the Get Delicious Facebook page) and I'll be offering Pork Shoulders and Hams, Beef Briskets, Turkeys, Whole Salmon, Rabbit, Duck, Corned Beefs, my Pickle line and a series of meat based Toffees and Caramels made for me by Andrea Smith at Chocolate FX. Eventually I look to roll this onto a real restaurant.
Chomp and Stomp will see classic Pallookaville, the Popcorn Annex and our first entry into the Chili Cookoff on Saturday, November 5th. We'll be making a Corndog Chili. I may have some of my World Famous Corndog Kasseroles there. Who the hell knows?
SCOUT: And finally, tell our readers where they can keep up with the wagon and learn more about you:
Jim: I'll be hosting the International Stage at Taste of Atlanta on Sunday, October 23rd (I'm baffled as to why they picked me) and Get Delicious 1 and 2 is playing throughout October.
Really Big Santa
Pallookaville on Facebook
Starlight Six on Facebook
Get Delicious! on Facebook
Really Big Santa on Facebook