Jim Stacy is no Ryan Seacrest. At 6 feet 6 inches tall, with a thick, red beard and a lumbering frame held up by overalls, the Atlanta native is more Santa Claus meets Grizzly Adams.
But his avuncular charm and insatiable appetite for all things scrumptious are why legions of fans devour his “Get Delicious!” TV specials, which air on Public Broadcasting Atlanta.
His third one-hour special, created on an ultra-shoestring budget of just $5,000, debuts at 8 tonight (Thursday, July 5) and focuses on all things barbecue, with side trips to a traditional North Georgia free-range hog farm, an old-fashioned butcher in Avondale Estates and a classic kosher deli in Atlanta.
One barbecue eatery featured in the show is Daddy D’z BBQ Joynt, not far from downtown Atlanta, where Stacy savors an order of ribs while his 2-year-old daughter Tallulah tugs at his beard. Barbecue “is kind of a birthright,” he said. Accordingly, when Stacy visits his childhood haunt, Fresh Air Bar-B-Que in Jackson, he brings his father along to share some classic Brunswick stew before the TV cameras.
The specials, created with friends Jack Walsh and Gordon Ray, don’t just show loving shots of ribs slathered in sauce like a typical food show. Commentary and interviews are illustrated with free, public domain video from decades past that gives the show a lighthearted, campy feel. So when his disk jockey friend Mara Davis of Dave FM says she doesn’t like pickles on her pulled pork sandwich from Community Q in Decatur, the producers inserted dug-up grainy black-and-white footage of a woman who hates a pickle so much she knocks over a table.
He disarms the barbecue entrepreneurs he interviews. “He makes you feel at home, like we’ve known each other forever,” said Betty Hamilton, owner of Ms. Betty’s House of Ribs in Atlanta, also featured in the special.
But Stacy, a former chef, has serious intentions. He has a smokehouse at his home where he makes his own cured and smoked meats. (He takes private orders.) He wants viewers to learn about eateries in Atlanta that don’t begin with “Mc” or end in “King.”“We are so divorced from what we eat now,” he said.
He also wants to illustrate the melting pot that is Atlanta through food. In previous specials, he’s spotlighted a soul food restaurant run by a Nebraskan and a Thai family feeding customers Cajun cuisine. This time, he highlights Atlanta’s Heirloom Market Barbecue, an interesting amalgam of Korean and Texas barbecue.
“There are very few people raised in Atlanta. I’m one of them. But I love how people from the outside bring their own flavors to Southern food.”
Stacy, 45, also embraces Atlanta history. He manages the Starlight Drive-In, an Atlanta institution since 1949. And he purposely chose Ponce de Leon Avenue’s Plaza Theatre (circa 1939) to share a sneak peek of the special this past Sunday.
He appreciates irony, too. “I love the owners,” he said after the Plaza preview. “They allowed me to screen an all-meats show in a theater owned by vegans!”
Stacy — who has been a nightclub owner, punk-rock musician, tattoo artist and, yes, a professional Santa Claus — would love to do more than one “Get Delicious” special every 18 months. But his culinary desires exceed PBA’s modest purse strings.
“I’m always planning five or six steps ahead. When they said yes to the first one, I already had four more episodes figured out in my head.”
The next one, Stacy said, already has a title: “This Is Not Junk Food.”
The co-stars of tonight’s ‘Get Delicious!’
“Get Delicious” features a variety of barbecue places, plus a farm, butcher shop and deli. Jim Stacy provides quick takes on why he picked each one to highlight: Host Jim Stacy’s quick takes on each one:
Community Q BBQ: “Great brisket sandwiches and some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. It’s good to see some fine dining guys cooking barbecue.” (1361 Clairmont Road, Decatur, 404-633-2080)
Daddy D’z BBQ Joynt: “My favorite ribs in town. Hands down, my go-to place when my family is eating barbecue.” (264 Memorial Drive S.E., Atlanta, 404-222-0206)
Fresh Air Bar-B-Que: “A perennial favorite for our family. You can’t manufacture the atmosphere. It’s been open since 1929. That’s as old-school as it gets.” (1164 Highway 42 S., Jackson, 770-775-3182)
Heirloom Market BBQ: “I love Korean barbecue. I love Texas barbecue. The two of them together is a great asset to the city. Hands down, great kimchi slaw!” (2243 Akers Mill Road S.E., Atlanta, 770-612-2502)
Ms. Betty’s House of Ribs: “A quintessential rib shack. It’s in my neighborhood. I love eating as much as just hanging out and talking to the staff.” (1281 Bouldercrest Drive, Atlanta, 404-243-8484)
Patak Meat Products: “Anthony Patak is the king of Atlanta sausage for sure. He has, hands down, my favorite frankfurters and wieners anywhere.” (4107 Ewing Road, Austell, 770-941-7993)
Pine Street Market: “Near and dear to my heart. I grew up in a butcher shop. Seeing a guy my age able to make a living as a butcher and bacon maker is a precious thing.” (4A Pine St., Avondale Estates, 404-296-9672)
Riverview Farms: “Great organic, free-range pork grown by a great family. Great organic produce coming out of there as well.” (954 White Graves Road N.E., Ranger, 678-910-2831)
The Kosher Gourmet: “You actually get homemade pastrami and corned beef in a kosher deli. Can’t really beat that.” (2153 Briarcliff Road N.E., Atlanta, 404-636-1114)
8 p.m. Thursday, PBA, with repeats at 2:30 a.m. Friday, 9 p.m. Sunday and 2:30 a.m. Sunday
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk