Festival puts focus on Atlanta's 'vibrant' underground food scene

Sam Flemming spent more than 20 years living in Asia, where he was struck by that region’s passion for food.

When he moved here, he sought out Atlanta’s underground food scene, which he describes as “vibrant”, but “not always easy to find, and that’s why we set up the Punk Foodie platform,” he said.
It was a project that combined his passion for food and his career tracking social media content. The Punk Foodie calendar and Instagram account combs social media to compile a list of food truck appearances and pop-up dining in Atlanta. Flemming says a city’s underground food scene is an essential incubator.

“It’s a place where chefs can build an audience, they can hone their craft, they can test food out, they can build a brand and when they look to sign that lease, they’re not an unknown quantity,” said Flemming.
The use of the term “punk” is a reference to the music Flemming grew up listening to.

“I just see the underground dining scene to be very, very similar,” he said.

Atlanta is known for its tempting array of restaurant options, and the city’s underground food scene is gaining a reputation too. The Punk Foodie Festival this Saturday brings together some of the area’s up-and-coming chefs.

“We’ve got cuisines from all over the world, we’ve got Eastern European, we’ve got Korean American, we’ve got home-style Vietnamese, we’ve got Asian, we’ve got burgers – but a very creative take on burgers,” Flemming said.

Among those chefs serving up entrees during the festival this Saturday is Matt Reeves. He serves up Polish food under the brand Brave Wojtek.

“Which started mostly because I was upset I couldn’t get a pierogi anywhere,” Reeves said. “And having been making that my whole life, things kind of fell together around the pandemic.”

Dave Mouche, a long-time restaurant worker and chef, also launched his pop-up restaurant Jackalope during the pandemic. One of his specialties is a mapo tofu chili dog.

“I feel like it’s a great introductory point to show people that those flavors in Szechuan cuisine but in a format that everyone knows,” Mouche said.

The Punk Foodie Festival, which takes place at Scofflaw Brewing, will also serve as a fundraiser for Flavor Forward, a platform started by Flemming and his son, which helps those struggling with food insecurity.

Hear more about the Punk Foodie Festival during Friday’s episode of “City Lights” on 90.1 WABE.