(See Adventures in ethical meat: Part one for the beginning of this story.)
Up next was the moment I came for.
Chef Vaughn pulled out half a Slopping Hill pig from the walk-in cooler and rather quickly began to cut it into workable portions.
Every Thursday morning the chefs take apart two pigs — one for each restaurant — which are delivered directly from Slopping Hill Farm.
Chef Vaughn said he was excited as it was the first time in about a year that he was in charge of the butchery. Chef Belcham usually holds court on the weekly Thursday morning sessions.
Nothing is wasted during the butchering. Aside from the usual cuts like the belly, shoulder, tenderloin and ribs, almost every piece of the pig is used.
The snout and tongue will be used to make a terrine, as will other parts of the head like the ears and brains. Even the tail will be used for either stock or to add to sausage.
The advantage in this, as explained to me by Chef Vaughn, is that it effectively makes every cut of the pig cost the same. There is no premium to be paid for with the loin or the chops; when you buy the pig whole the butt essentially becomes the same price as the loin.
The benefit for the chefs is learning to deal with product in its purest form. Chef Vaughn told me that he simply would not be able to go back to a restaurant where the food comes from a box where you don’t know where it came from or what went into raising it.
Profits seem to take a back seat to quality at Refuel and Campagnolo.
Chef Vaughn told me how last year the restaurant bought up an entire crop of heirloom tomatoes from a local producer at a price that simply couldn’t be recuperated as an item in the restaurant. However, since the tomatoes where so tasty the restaurant supported the producer and bought it all so that he would have the incentive (and funds) to create a new bigger crop for this year.
Now that is supporting the farm.