The next time Incanto’s Chris Cosentino asks me if I want to watch him break down a whole pig–nose-to-tail–I swear I’m going to take him up on it. One of my biggest foodie regrets, in fact, was passing by the chance to see this offalist at work, elbow-deep in hog.
Because while most of us are a bit squeamish about the seemingly nasty bits of animal left behind after the prime bits of meat have been cut away, this manic organ-ic doesn’t flinch. In fact, the SF chef prizes every usable bit of the animal, sautéing, frying and steaming blood, brains, and, uh, even duck testicles in ways not often seen in the US (at least in the last 75 years or so).
Call it gross. Call it brilliant. Call it a whole new take on sustainability.
And, call it recognized. Cosentino, along with fellow offal-lover Fergus Henderson (sometimes hailed as the father of the organ meats resurgence) of London’s St. John Restaurant were both recently recognized as top Green Chefs by Grist.com.
It’s also a bit of a radical change in thinking. Serious carnivores are rarely hailed by the mostly veggie-centric ecorati. To their defense, animals do take a serious bit of resources to raise, slaughter and process. But when sustainability is part of the total equation–from birth to table–even many hard-core vegetarians are rethinking their stance. In fact, it has recently been reported that flexitarianism “former vegetarians who eat the occasional sausage or hamburger “is a new trend among the formerly meatless. Some credit the influx of more organic, sustainable, humane practices into meat processing for the change.
So, while Alice Waters, Dan Barber and notable French vegetable enthusiast Alain Passard remain usual suspects on “green chef” lists, it’s refreshing to see folks like Cosentino and Henderson’s commitment to waste-less meat eating lauded.
Even if it isn’t your cup of blood pudding.
In other news: Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations kicks off its new season tonight (7/30) on the Travel Channel.