Four years ago, Susan Feniger, Food Network personality, star chef, restaurateur, a leading authority on Latin cuisine and proponent of street food, was in Denver bumping around downtown during the Parade of Lights, when the scent of sausages lured her to Biker Jim's hot dog cart on the 16th Street Mall. "I had her cooking dogs for a few minutes," says Jim, "and then she ordered one of my elk-jalapeno-cheddar dogs."
Jim, Denver's beloved hot dog hustler, had forgotten all about it, until he got a surprise e-mail a few months ago. It was from a producer at the Food Network.
"Out of the blue," says Jim, "I got this e-mail from one of the producers of The Best Thing I Ever Ate! saying that Sue Feniger had told them about me and the hot dog stand and had recommended that they check us out."
So they did. Yesterday afternoon. "I was somewhat thrilled about that," deadpans Jim, who spent the majority of the day slinging dogs to steady crowds, while a camera zoomed in on his every move. And, as it turned out, my fly trap, which doubled as a stunt mouth, which simply means that I needed a gazillion napkins to wipe my face after taking big bites off the elk wiener sassed up with onions, cream cheese and condiments.
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Not long after Jim finished the shoot, he got a call from the Sundance Channel. "I don't know...it was something about Ludo and biting America," he told me. Ludo Bites America is a new series on the Sundance Channel that's hosted by tatted Los Angeles chef Ludo Lefebvre, who travels across the country and sets up pop-up restaurants. And while it was just a preliminary phone call, it sounds like Biker Jim's could be one of the stops on his next road trip. "I'm wondering when I went from being a regular jack-off to being a media whore," jokes Jim. "At what point did I actually make that transition?"
Jim is anything but a media whore, although he's definitely in the national food media spotlight: Since July of last year, and repeatedly this past week, his frankfurter cart, where Anthony Bourdain found "enlightenment," has been featured on No Reservations, Bourdan's weekly globetrotting romp on the Travel Channel.
And sometime within the next several months, Feniger will be waxing rhapsodic about Jim's wiener on the Food Network, when she'll proclaim his elk dog as "The Best Thing I Ever Ate!"