Food News

Many Punk Bands Share a Common Request When Visiting Dallas: Chef Justin Box

Justin Box (center, back) is becoming the go-to chef for many punk bands that make their way to Dallas. Here he had prepared a meal for the Casualties and the Bouncing Souls.
Justin Box (center, back) is becoming the go-to chef for many punk bands that make their way to Dallas. Here he had prepared a meal for the Casualties and the Bouncing Souls. Vera Velma Hernandez
Behind every band is a chef.

At least if you’re a punk band playing in Dallas.

More than 20 years ago, Justin Box wrote to a punk band, offering them a meal when they came to town to play.

“Back in the day you could write to bands and you could send them personal letters ... and they would send stickers or maybe a tape, a CD, or if you’re lucky you’d get a T-shirt,” Box says. “I wrote to Face to Face, one of my favorite bands. I said I want to be a chef — or maybe I lied and said I was a chef — and wanted to cook for them. It was at Good Records, and I made something like chicken salad.”


click to enlarge Justin Box with Brody Dale of the Distillers - JUSTIN BOX
Justin Box with Brody Dale of the Distillers
Justin Box
This week, he made dinner for Bad Religion when they played a concert at the House of Blues on Monday.

“Coming up, I’ll be doing Authority Zero, Pennywise and the Bronx again,” Box says.

Of course he’s not getting addresses off the backs of CDs or tapes to mail them requests to cook anymore. These days, band managers are reaching out to him to cook.

As for the food, there is one common thread among the band members Box is cooking for: they prefer plant-based meals.

click to enlarge Plant-based meals are overwhelmingly common in bands' requests. - JUSTIN BOX
Plant-based meals are overwhelmingly common in bands' requests.
Justin Box
“Most of them are vegans, and a lot of times there are a lot of allergies or restrictions,” he says. “This is the first one that was kind of run-of-the-mill, except there’s one mushroom allergy.”

Monday’s dinner for the band was a build-your-own-wrap station with different root leaves from Profound Farms.

Other bands Box has cooked for include Teenage Bottlerocket, Rise Against, the Distillers, Terror, Propagandi, the Bouncing Souls, the Casualties, Anti-Flag, Harm’s Way, Backtrack, Jello Biafra, Vandoliers, Liberty and Justice, and the Old Firm Casuals.

“To a lot of people, this wouldn't mean anything, but these were my childhood heroes,” Box says. “I always like to respect their privacy and space. I typically show up, I feed them, I try to talk to them for a couple of minutes, say, ‘Hello, thanks for coming out,’ explain what I'm cooking, then let them do their thing.

“Everyone seems to be pretty cool. No assholes yet.”

click to enlarge TIL: It's easier to make music when fueled properly. - VERA VELMA HERNANDEZ
TIL: It's easier to make music when fueled properly.
Vera Velma Hernandez
Box — who plays in a band himself — previously worked at Cafe Momentum among other restaurants, and more recently has been a consulting chef. He’s at the helm of Lockwood Distilling’s kitchen, which is planned to open soon in Richardson.
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.