“I’ve always cooked,” says skater/author/chef Clyde Singleton. “If you know me, you’ve more than likely eaten something I’ve cooked over the last 25 years.” That is true. Singleton has lived one of the most unique and interesting lives of the modern era, mostly on purpose. He first made his name among the top tier of professional skateboarders in the 1990s and early 2000s, a household name within those circles with his own line of sneakers and equipment. He even appeared in the infamous “Jackass” movies. All of that was a long time ago, but also, not really that long at all.
2020 finds this icon of the Northeast Florida scene cruising along in a whole new gear. Currently a resident of North Carolina, Singleton has spent the first half of November back at home, visiting family and organizing a series of pop-up food events through his new company, Ollie Llama, under the rubric of “Cooking With Clyde”. The next two are taking place over the next week: Friday the 13th at Sherwoods Bar in San Marco (with music provided by DJ C-Note), followed by an exclusive, high-end five -course meal he’s catering at Hyperion on Tuesday, November 17. “The tour’s been great,” he says. “Lots of new faces, getting down with a lot of local vendors, using their products in the menu. Just being back out on the road is the best.”
Singleton, who began skating in 1986, was part of that first generation of skaters whose exploits were thoroughly documented on the internet, making him a staple of viral video and the deep reserves of VHS mixtapes that flooded the market in the ‘90s and early 2000s, most of which can still be found in some form or format today. “My inspirations were, and still are, Steve Steadham, Ray Barbee, Sal Barbier and Sean Sheffey,” he says. “I wouldn’t be here without those guys.” Skateboard stardom was a ticket to ride, literally, taking Singleton around the world multiple times. “The only places I haven’t been are Africa, South America, Spain and, of course, Antarctica–yet,” he says.
Like most of us, Singleton has had to find a balance between his natural ambitions and the crazy, unpredictable meta-reality of our present day, and he’s done a really good job at it. He’s embraced the sober life this year, not looking back once, despite this being probably the most stressful year in modern memory. He still skates, and always will, but he’s added new layers to his resume since launching a new career as a cook, a career that began at Seven Sows in Asheville, under the tutelage of Chef Mike Moore.
All of the “Cooking With Clyde” pop-ups will take place at locations that don’t typically serve food. The current (seemingly never-ending) pandemic has forced some changes to how business is done in this setting, but creative entrepreneurs like him are finding a new lease on life as they adapt to the new reality. The uniqueness of the venues also helps provide Singleton with some inspiration in planning his quirky, unique menus. The fare revolves largely around tacos and breakfast stacks, but the lineup for each location is customized to the clientele, with the emphasis always on the esoteric, experimental flair.
Sometimes contentious, sometimes controversial, Singleton is always compelling, a beast composed of pure charisma. He would be ideal to host his own podcast, which is ironic, given that he may be the only living human who does not actually have his own podcast yet. He’s also selling his own Ollie Llama merchandise, as well as his own custom skateboard, and he recently resumed his legendary “Clyde’s Corner” column in Transworld Skateboarding Magazine. There’s just one thing, though, that is yet to accomplish: perfecting the tornado omelette. “I almost had ‘em on the first try, but only because we had a $20 bet.” It’s just a matter of time.
The second of three “Cooking With Clyde” pop-ups goes down on Friday, November 13 at Sherwood’s in San Marco. The third is scheduled for Tuesday, November 17 at Hyperion Brewing in Springfield.