Have you ever asked “WHY is there so much PORK on this menu?!” If one animal is represented in a few different dishes on a menu, there might be a very good explanation for it. The reason can often be summed up by the concept of “Nose-to-Tail Cooking.” This practice advocates honoring the animal’s life and using as much of the animal as possible to avoid wasting any parts. Additionally it can offer a chef the opportunity to celebrate less common ingredients and cuts of meat.
Both Chef Joji Sumi of Mezze Bistro and Chef Daire Rooney of Allium employ a “nose-to-tail” philosophy for sustainability as well as culinary inventiveness. Our chefs work with local farmers to source whole animals that are butchered in house. This means that during any given week, the chefs are using many different components of a single animal that’s been raised locally. The presence of a ‘Pig Face + Trotter Torchon’ on the Allium menu is not meant to shock, but to introduce diners to delicious parts of the pig that are often overlooked. We are proud to have developed strong relationships with dedicated local farmers whose ideas about local, seasonal food are in line with our own. The nose-to-tail concept is a way to pay homage to both the animal and the farmer who raised it and allows chefs to make use of the bounty they’ve been given.
A few months ago, the Allium staff had the good fortune of participating in a butchering workshop led by Butcher Jake Levin of The Meat Market. The Meat Market is a locally sourced, nose-to-tail butcher shop and cafe located in Great Barrington. They buy directly from farmers within a 100-mile radius – at least 75 percent of the farms are within a 35-mile radius. They absolutely employ the same nose-to-tail philosophy that we do! Jake led the Allium staff through the process of butchering a whole pig from Kim Wells’ East Mountain Farm in Williamstown. From pork chops to ribs to ham cuts, the Allium crew learned a great deal and are continuing to employ those new skills every day.
To see some images from the event, continue reading. (Caution: Raw meat images ahead!)