Put That (Allergen-Free) Jerky in Your Mouth!
“I don’t believe in needless additives or preservatives and that’s what makes my jerky unique”
Shortly after he delivered probably Dragon’s Den’s greatest ever pitch and had many of us singing his jingle Put That Jerky In Your Mouth I was lucky enough to sit down with Texas Joe in the Grafton Arms in his native Kentish Town. We initially met to discuss his excellent free-from beef jerky, but once I enquired how a Texan musician and actor had found himself 5,000 miles from home, telling five multi-millionaires to put his jerky in their mouths the conversation quickly digressed and Joe told me all about his truly interesting background.
Here’s what Texas Joe had to say for himself:
It’s been a long and winding road to end up living in London, selling beef jerky. Back in the early ‘90s whilst at high school I won a scholarship to the University of Texas to study drama, and after graduating in ’94 I stuck around for a few years, with my love for music leading me to DJ on a number of Texan alternative radio stations. It was in ’97 that I decided to take a road trip out west to Los Angeles, via my dad’s place in Vegas. I took my 1959 Chevvy and started driving. I loved LA but and when I returned to Texas I realised what they meant when they said that bad things come in threes; both my relationship and job were on the rocks and my bathroom had caved in in my absence. It seemed like a good time to make the move west on a permanent basis, so it was back to LA for me.
Shortly after moving to LA I got scouted whilst drinking in a bar. I soon became a serial TV commercial actor, but despite appearing in ads for Burger King, AT&T and Miller Genuine Draft, I never really took acting that seriously, seeing it as a desperate lifestyle. Music was always my passion. So, with a few buddies, I started a band called Champagne Velvet. I’d describe them as rockabilly with a country kick and a dose of punk thrown in for good measure. Growing up I’d loved Hank Williams, Elvis and Johnny Cash, and as front-man of Champagne Velvet I wanted to be the new Ernest Tubb. In reality, after a few drinks I think I was more Johnny Rotten! I had some great times on tour and am still a part-time member of Champagne Velvet – in fact I played a gig with them last year.
It was through the music that I met my wife Daisy and through Daisy that I ended up in London! When we met I was a partner in the Redwood Bar in downtown Los Angeles and tried to book her band, Kitty Daisy and Lewis, who performed the jingle with me on Dragons’ Den. They were supporting Coldplay on tour at the time, so I ended up going to four or five Coldplay gigs so I could spend time with Daisy backstage! We began to date long distance for a while and saw each other every three months or so, but when it became really serious we decided it was easier for me to move to the UK than vice versa. Ilanded in the UK in December 2009 and immediately wondered what the hell I was letting myself in for. I wasn’t that used to snow and when I landed in the UK it seemed endless. The summer wasn’t that much better! I couldn’t work for the first six months of my stay here due to my visa, so it was pretty difficult to adjust for a while. With time it’s begin to feel like home; whilst I miss the wide, open spaces of the US, I love the action and vitality here. One day I’d love to have two houses – one in the US and one her.
As a red-blooded Texan I have been barbecuing and making jerky for as long as I can remember. I oversaw the menu for the Redwood Bar which became renowned for its food, and my free jerky went down particularly well. I toured the West Coast with my wife a couple of years ago and even though my wife doesn’t like beef she was eating it all the time. Since living in the UK I’d realised two things – firstly, there was no decent jerky readily available Secondly, I love being my own boss. The stage was set to produce my own jerky and sell it to the masses!
The factory which produces my jerky is gluten free. I don’t believe in needless preservatives or additives and that’s part of what makes my jerky unique. The flavour comes from the quality of beef, the seasoning and the way it’s dried. Simple yet effective.
Daisy encouraged me to apply to the den, and I auditioned in January 2013. I could tell they liked me and was called shortly after to film. At the first interview I had given the impression I had a theme song written for the jerky already. When asked to perform it I told them I had a sore throat, but put on the spot the name ‘jerky in your mouth’ entered my head and I knew I had to go with it! Knowing I’d have to come up with the lyrics quickly, I called upon Kitty, Daisy and Lewis to assist me!
We went up to Salford to film, I made sure to know my business plan inside and out and had rehearsed the theme tune a few times. After 2 hours I got the investment from the dragon I had been hoping for – Peter Jones.
To me the thing that will stay with me, above the notoriety and the sales, is the effect my appearance on Dragons Den has had on others. The pitch was positive and the response has been equally so – I’ve been so encouraged by all the people that have told me the ways in which they’ve been inspired after watching the show. I’ve been called crazy many times in my life but I’d rather live my life to the full and take risks along the way than wonder what may have happened. I never make decisions on a purely financial basis. I’ve lived poor in my life, out of my car and off of friends’ couches but I never actually considered myself poor. I strongly believe that if you have dreams yet lack money you’re wealthier than those who have nice houses and cars yet boring lives.
To join Joes Jerky Club visit his site here: http://texas-joes.com/
Joe on Dragons Den: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9M7MJ9Obto
Joe now has his own range of gluten-free sausages in Waitrose: http://www.digitalnewsroom.co.uk/texasjoes/