Pie Social's just around the corner and if you're wondering about the savory options to counteract the inevitable excess of sweet, don't worry, we've got you covered. Let us present Old Dixie's Southern Kitchen.
From Northern California to Nashville, New Orleans and Phoenix, Michael Babcock has been around the block and back again. But more than anywhere else, he felt the call from the South - the home of fried okra, cheesy grits, gumbo...and Cajun everything. As of a month ago he's brought his favorite southern flavors to the Valley, and has been winning over even tried and true, down-home Dixie-ites.
The Business: Old Dixie's Southern Kitchen
What You Need To Know: Owners Michael Babock and Jen Robinson don't have a culinary degree between them and don't hail from the South. But don't let that deter you from believing that they've got "real" Southern food. Babock says he's gotten the stamp of approval from Phoenix transplants from Shreveport on his chicken gumbo - and we know Southerners, that's no easy feat.
The Story: On a two-month "pick-a-direction-and-drive" road trip, Babcock found himself returning again and again to New Orleans. The self-taught chef already had more than ten years of restaurant experience including hours logged at local eateries such as Gallo Blanco and The Duce. Partner Jen Robinson previously worked at the Phoenix Public Market.
"Every time I came to Phoenix I would seek out really good Southern food," Babock says. "I could never find any."
So after being inspired by the unique flavors of New Orleans, he read up to learn how to recreate them for himself.
"I ate my way out of that city," he says. "Then I bought [a bunch of books]...and studied the crap out of them."
They're a pair of urban farmers (think chickens, gardens, etc.) who hope to incorporate the fruits of their labor into the business someday down the line. Babcock says they use local purveyors as frequently as possible, including favorites such as Schreiner's Sausages, Four Peaks Brewery, The Meat Shop and Pinnacle Farms.
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The Truck: Babcock started searching for a truck while living in NorCal and found the Old Dixie's fire engine red trailer on Craigslist in Nashville, Tennessee. Being seasoned road trippers, they did the natural thing: packed up their bags and went to pick it up. He fondly recalls the trailer's past life as a "real old lady trailer" with "real old lady flair."
They drove the real southern trailer back out West and spent just one month getting it certified and ready to go. You'll find the duo posted up at mobile food courts from Gilbert to north Phoenix.
For more information visit the Old Dixie's Facebook page. This weekend you can find them at First Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. at Roosevelt Row, the Central Farmers' Market at Northern and Central from 9 a.m. to noon and at Chow Bella and Roosevelt Row's Pie Social from 2 to 6 pm.