Jaesen-Michael Moore has been singing the National Anthem at Myrtle Beach Pelicans games for 18 years. He has been doing the same thing for the Myrtle Beach Marathon for four years – and is the longtime lead singer for local hard rock outfit, The Izm.
We should also mention that Moore was also The Surge’s Male Vocalist of the Year for 2009.
But this is the story of how a simple thing like beef jerky spawned a thriving business.
Originally from Northern Virginia, Moore once worked at a family-owned market in Ashburn, VA called Partlow’s, which sold beef jerky out of a jar on the counter. He loved it, and never forgot it.
He started making his own jerky in an attempt to emulate the jerky from Partlow’s.
“In 2008/2009, I came up with a marinade and a recipe, and I would bring it to work when I worked at Verizon,” he said, adding that he would set it in the break room. His coworkers would devour it, leaving none for him to enjoy.
Eventually, one of his workmates offered to buy a pound of jerky from Moore, and he was off and running – J-Mike’s Jerky was in business.
He continued to make jerky and said its reputation grew in town. Meanwhile he continued to perform with The Izm, including a couple of Surf/Skate Taco Cookoffs, which are fundraisers in connection with the Atlantic Surfing Federation, or ASF.
Phil Jackson, now executive director of ASF, called Moore, asking him to participate in the cookoff.
“My band played the 2nd and 3rd cookoff, but now he knows about the jerky and said he wanted me to make a taco.”
He wasn’t thrilled with the idea, and let Jackson know that.
“He said, ‘man up and make a damn taco,’ so I did.”
Moore deconstructed his favorite taco – the Double Decker Taco from Taco Bell – and reconstructed it, with a twist.
“My taco meat is my marinated beef jerky meat – Izm Flavor, of course – mildly spiced, thick-cut jerky. I shaved down the meat and cooked it down into taco meat with some vegetables and fat. So now I have a double decker taco.”
The taco was constructed with a made-from-scratch flower tortilla, refried beans, a hard taco shell – and the jerky taco steak. Moore added Irish Porter cheddar cheese, an original southwestern ranch sour cream sauce, fresh Pico de Gallo and fresh spinach.
That taco won the 4th Surf/Skate Taco Cookoff. He did it again this year at the 5th installment, but with a chicken bog taco.
Moore seems to be everywhere these days, under the banner of J-Mike’s Flavor Ship – at events like the Mythical and Medieval Fest, the recent Myrtle Beach Highland Games and currently set up in the infield of the Myrtle Beach Speedway for the Horry County Fair – serving up the jerky and tacos, mac and cheese, boiled peanuts, chicken bog and more.
He recently acquired a 1976 Winnebago and is slowly transforming it into a food truck. But right now, he said he is just a guy with an idea.
“When I first got it I would drive it around,” he said. “I would have it at the Boathouse on Sundays. I had a tent, gave out free samples and stuff trying to spread the word – and I would drive up in the Flavor Ship – straight-up ‘76 Winnebago.”
Moore lives in Socastee with wife Brooke Moore and children Marcus, 14, and Victoria, 8.
He said he would love to continue to call the area home.
“I go wherever the light shines, and I’m not the source of the light,” he said.
And to think that beef jerky has morphed into this bustling enterprise is nothing short of amazing.
“I just wanted to make jerky, but a buddy of mine forced me into a taco cookoff and I won two years in a row – and I’m already prepped for a three-peat. I’m going wherever it takes me, just like surfing a wave. Paddle out and catch another one. Don’t sit there and cry because of the one you missed.”
Know of a local that should be given the Working 4 a Living treatment? Contact Roger Yale at firstname.lastname@example.org.