10 Things the Chefs Learned from #aPORKalypse
Hello, my friends!
Chef Gregorio here. Aside from being talented and immensely handsome, I also have a fondness for lists. I blame my good friend Mark Athridge for this habit (and he gets it from his love of John Cusak).
Anyhoo… in no particular order… I want to share with you the TOP 10 THINGS that Executive Chef Travis and I learned before, during, and after #aPORKalypse
#1 – 100 lbs of dead weight is heavy
Out of the 10 beautiful pigs used for aPORKalypse, Chef Travis and I were given the honor of working with three of them. And let me tell you, lugging these bad boys down into our prep kitchen was QUITE the workout. If anything, we definitely got a work out in!
#2 – Butchering your own pig for the first time is educational and traumatic.
We’ve cooked many parts of the pig in our short culinary career. We’ve ever take apart primals. This was, however, the very first time either of us had to break down an entire pig (let alone 3). Thank goodness for YouTube, the French Culinary Insitute (our Alma Mater), and the Chef’s Academy. These two schools have very detailed video online regarding this process. It’s a shame there wasn’t a camera present to watch us travel back and forth between the computer and the prep kitchen to make sure we were getting every step right!
One really finds themselves a zen place when sawing through the larger bones of the pig. A rythym and a pattern must be attained so you can keep moving forward. And it’s here where I admit that for some odd reason… I found myself singing the “Do Re Mi” song from “The Sound of Music” whenever I was splitting the pig in half… much to Travis’ chagrin.
In case you’re wondering… these were out reference points:
#3 – Headcheese
Another thank you has to go out to Jennifer McLagan, author of ODD BITS. She is the one who really got me into cooking with offal (which made for a fun Port Jeff Beer Dinner, but that’s another blog). Since we wanted no part of the pig to go to waste, we decided to make a very basic headcheese using the three heads and three trotters of the pig.
I was really surprised that so many people dove right into it during aPORKalypse. Halfway through the 2nd session, a guest showed me a flurry of tweets that had been sent out about people having it and loving it for the first time. INSTANT PRIDE AND HAPPINESS!
#4 – Healthy people will forgo anything vegetable for the chance at more pork
Just saying that we had Cajun Potato Salad and Mustard Slaw at our table. Each time I offered it, most people would go… “can I just get more pork?” This idea of a “healthy foodie crowd in LIC” is now quite suspect with me 😉
(Alobar’s Porchetta… no veg here either ^_^ )
#5 – The smell of smoke never leaves you
Smoked Pork is a wonderful and heavenly food. I can’t get enough of it. However, it’s now 5 days after aPORKalypse and I swear I still smell like smoke.
Not complaining mind you. Just have to get used to the odd looks I’ve been getting from people on the subway. Quite sure that there is a nice smoke ring underneath the first layer of my skin 😉 Thanks to the ARROGANT SWINE crew for bringing out that amazing smoker and just crushing that pig!
#6 – Beer + Pork = tons of flirting
MY GOODNESS! I know I was either in the kitchen or at ALEWIFE’s table… but even I noticed the heavy amount of beer&pork-fueled googly eyes happening amongst the chaos. Perhaps Cupid has it wrong. No arrows… just hops and swine!
#7 – Alewife Crew know how to step up their game
I’m always ready to brag about the kitchen crew… but I also have to give love to all the Front of House and volunteers who kept aPORKalypse running! Amidst all the porky madness, I could see our peeps raising their game and keeping everyone happy. WELL DONE EVERYONE@
#8 – Always make more than you need. You’ll still run out. Or someone else will
I stand humbled. Travis cranked it up with a few extra pork dishes and sides (which I thought may have been excessive being that we had other tables with their own foodstuff). NEVER underestimate the hunger of beer and pork lovers!
#9 – Never discount the power of improvising
I’m not naming names, but I know that 2 of our wildly popular items were either created on the fly or executed differently due to Murphy’s Law. That T-shirt is right… just KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON!
#10 – Long Island City folk know how to come out and show the love
The 7 train is still a pain in our collective hides. And yet, LIC came out and showed us so much love. Everyone here is so thankful to each and every one of you for braving the commuting hell. This is why we opened here… because we know that the people of Long Island City support their own and have an absolutely amazing palate
What’s next?! Who knows… but stay tuned. We’ll never let ya down