Vegetarians, proceed with caution. What you are about to read glorifies the very thing you have vowed to eradicate from your digestive system, grocery list and dreams. We’re talking about meat herbivore sacrilege.
Our mouths water for it and we have raised a nation on it. What would summer be if not for family barbeques, rib smothered mouths and the crisp, irresistible notes of bacon that waft through the windows of neighborhood kitchens? Whether we are bacon aficionados or rib revelers, most of us favor certain cuts above all others and, in some cases, the rest of the animal falls to the wayside. As the saying goes “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Or, in this case, “An animal’s discarded parts are a chef’s treasure.”
We talked to restaurants that keep the act of cooking whole animal alive through traditional means of preparation, roasting feasts and good old fashioned hunting. We interviewed butcher mavens who leave little to no part of an animal to waste by using leftovers for making dog food and got some insight into the world of meat and seafood sustainability. Each chef featured pays homage to the animals that make Christmas delight, back yard barbeque face offs and culinary diversity possible, and they do so by finding means to utilize the animal to its maximum capacity. Let’s face it, food as we know it just wouldn’t be the same without meat. Chefs that live by this truth run their establishments by way of sustainability practices. They know what the meat they serve was fed as an animal, where it came from and how it was raised. They strive to meet standards that assure the meat they serve is not only USDA certified but humanely raised. One chef shows us the sea side of sustainability by talking us through the importance of Marine Stewardship Council certification.
Some chefs can afford to be picky, to serve only the finest cuts in the most elegant fashion, but others are making the choice to push the bounds of creativity and serve animals in their entirety. Head to Tail dinners are showcased by a host of local restaurants. Among the ranks there is a large epicurean effort to change the face of what it means to eat a whole animal.
If you have ever thought about braving the whole animal challenge, these chefs will give you pointers and cautionary tips on how to produce the perfect beast.