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Ten years ago, celebrity Top Chef Master Fergus Henderson brought “The Whole Beast: Nose-to-Tail Eating” to the attention of foodies everywhere, and sparked a great debate in the food industry. Why not use the whole animal like we did a century ago, while reducing food costs and improve the environment? From there, the nose to tail trend was born, and has gained popularity across the country.
Make Room For the New (From an Old Tradition)
Nose to tail cooking, which refers to a chef using the whole animal, is a relatively new trend to hit restaurants all over the country—but it’s an age-old tradition. It goes back to the Depression in the 1930’s when farmers and families alike couldn’t afford to waste any part of an animal (such as the cow’s tongue, or lamb belly). Both local and celebrity chefs have brought back the lesser known meats (such as organs of the animal) in innovative ways to save costs and reduce waste.
According to the National Restaurant Association Survey, nose-to-tail cooking has been trending alongside root-to-stalk cooking (in which chef’s cook the entire plant). It makes sense for foodies and adventuresome eaters, too— people get tired of the same cuts of meat and want variety in their diet. Instead of just cooking up pork chops from a pig, the chef can transform the same old pork chop into multiple dishes that are pleasing to the eye and the palate.
It’s an Event to Remember
Chef Levitt, who cooks up sustainable dishes at Chicago’s eatery, Mado, loves the costs he saves from cooking an entire animal such as a pig for his customers. He’ll buy a pig for the night, and cook sausage, pork chops, pork rillettes, pork shank and even the pigs head on top of a warm salad. By the evening, he’ll have recovered the entire price of the pig. Other restaurants have turned the nose-to-tail trend into a chef lead event. Just head to Santa Monica, California and join the Locanda del Lago restaurant for their monthly “Bite of the Beast” five course dinner. Each month allows guests to enjoy a different animal. Last April, lamb was featured, and guests savored sautéed lamb offal, a ragu topped with tender cuts of lamb shoulder, and a chef carved leg of lamb for their main course.
You don’t have to be an adventurous diner to savor a new and different cut of animal. The way that the nose to tail trend is heading, can be a fun and exciting event out with other liked minded people, as much as it is about enjoying the meal.