In the last few years there have been a growing number of food events in the Bay Area focusing on butchery and whole animal utilization. I actually don’t eat much meat but in an ongoing effort to be a more responsible and informed omnivore I’ve been closely following this trend. (Also see my post on Goat Butchery back in February.)
Last night I went to one of these meat events called “Primal” that also added wood fired cooking into the mix. It was held under the stars amidst the vineyards at Chase Cellars in Napa Valley. Some of the best meat-oriented chefs and butchers in the area (Chris Cosentino of Incanto and Boccalone, Staffan Terje of Perbacco, Taylor Boetticher of Fatted Calf and many others) demonstrated breaking down a pig, goat, cow, and lamb and cooked up the end products on raging wood bonfires.
As the fires burned into the night, the chefs served course after course of meat, from goat tail to beef heart. Refreshingly, Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu was also cooking up fire-roasted vegetarian fare. Meanwhile guests were sampling wine and beer from a wide variety of boutique vintners and brewers.
As captivating as it was to see (and taste) whole animals cooking in the most pure and basic way, my overall impression of the evening was that a lot of people were simply drawn in by the decadence of the all-you-can-eat parade of meat. A handful of others seemed genuinely interested in either the cooking techniques and/or issues related to the whole animal. But the people who seemed to be having the most fun were actually the chefs who were relishing the opportunity to do what they do best and do it outside over an open fire.