May 14—FAIRMONT — From Atlanta to the "Friendly City," Chef Harry Stone is ready to introduce Georgia barbecue to West Virginians.
Stone is launching his barbecue food stand at 200 East Graft Rd., outside of the Shell Gas Station and the near Dairy Creme Corner.
Having moved to West Virginia nearly two years ago, Stone works as Crystalline Event's partnered chef and is the executive chef of Styx and Stones Barbecue.
He started cooking at a young age. His responsibility was to prepare breakfast, which was grits. He got the cooking down to a science, by adding extra water so he could sleep for a bit longer, he said with a laugh.
"Grits and oatmeal you have to watch, you can't just leave to cook like a lot of other breakfast food... I always tell people if you can cook grits, you can cook anything. You have to be patient and you have to prepare for it," Stone said.
But, Stone didn't start out as a chef, he started working around age 14 in the hospitality business. Then, he started working in the kitchen of a hotel by washing dishes. He worked his way up and was able to start making food for banquets.
"I was such a student at this point, at a young age, you're fascinated by the kitchen because everybody plays such an intricate part and when it all comes together, you love it," Stone said.
Throughout his career, he's worked in a variety of restaurants, including Greek and Italian, as a caterer, personal chef and nutrition specialist. He's also created food podcasts, columns and has worked to create healthy — yet tasty — food programs.
He has a passion for sustainability, gardening and healthy eating. He used to travel back to Atlanta to take care of his gardens, but this year he wants to plant as many tomato plants in his garden in Fairmont as possible.
In Fairmont in the future, he's interested in planning meal plans for Fairmont State University athletes or opening a dine-in restaurant. He also said that if there are ever any children that need food because they haven't eaten since they left school or anything like that, to reach out to him. He experienced food insecurity as a kid and doesn't want anyone else to face it.
Stone said that when he moved to West Virginia, he visited Cooper's Rock and instantly felt like he was in heaven.
"I fell in love with the people of West Virginia. I fell in love with the fact that I can forget to lock my door and not wake up going 'Oh my God, I forgot to lock the door,'" Stone said.
He explained that growing up in Atlanta, his house didn't have air conditioning and the best way to get air circulation was by opening the front door.
"You know, you didn't lock — you didn't even close the door, but that time changed for us. But here, I can feel very close to that feeling that sense of safety," Stone said.
Stone plans to open the barbecue stand on Memorial Day weekend. He plans to offer Georgia style, tomato based barbecue complete with his homemade "Georgia Boy" Barbecue Sauce, that he makes and sells in jars. He said the meat is cooked slow overnight and double-marinated. He will also offer traditional soul food sides and emphasized that he uses fresh or fresh frozen ingredients — never anything from a can. He also said that he loves shopping local and buys bread at Country Club Bakery.
Marion County Health Department Administrator Lloyd White said that he has been in contact with Stone and emphasized safety procedures for selling food in a stand.
"We work with folks to make sure that they comply with the guidelines... It's critically important that the food is wholesome, it's cooked from safe sources, is held at the appropriate temperature and is served with the utmost care and sanitized practices. The whole goal is to prevent foodborne illness," White said.
Stone is looking forward to his future in Fairmont and is planning to drive his food truck up from Atlanta, which he said, means he is sticking around for a while. He also said when he took his dog, Baxter to Atlanta, he hated it, but in Fairmont, he has room to run around.
"He likes to dig, he likes to run, he loves water, he loves the mountains and he loves it here," Stone said.
For more information, contact Harry Stone at 404-343-9165 or at email@example.com
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