Dario Cecchini, artisan butcher and subject of Bill Buford's book "Heat". On Saturday October 24th Dario gave a demonstration of artisan butchery at Nopa restaurant in San Francisco.
Dario Cecchini's appearance was sponsored by Meatpaper, Marin Organic and Nopa.
Helge Hellberg, Executive Director of Marin Organic, introduces Dario Cecchini and his wife (and translator) Kim Wicks.
Dario and Laurence Jossel, head chef and owner of Nopa.
Dario salutes the cleaver. The cleaver was on loan from the butcher shop across the street, Divisadero Meat Market. The butcher/owner of the meat market has run his shop there for over 30 years.
Master artisan butcher Dario Cecchini considers the pig. From a demonstration of artisan butchery at Nopa restaurant in San Francisco. The event was hosted by Meatpaper and Marin Organic, pig provided by Devils Gulch Ranch. Many more pictures are in the albums.
Dario Cecchini with local artisan butcher Ryan Farr, owner of 4505 Meats.
Dario considers beef to be the ultimate challenge for the butcher. It's size and importance to the community make it an animal worthy of the utmost respect.
Dario is a very ebullient and engaging teacher.
Dario digs in. I tried to capture all that I could but you can only get a sense of the mental concentration and powerful physical energy it takes to handle hundreds of pounds of beef with such a high level of skill.
Incredibly, all the while he's performing this amazing work, he's telling us about butchery and his 250 year-old butcher shop, life in Tuscany, being a ninth generation butcher, quoting Dante and cracking jokes.
At this point, he stops and remarks how the smell and texture of the animal tells him how extraordinarily good this beef is. It obviously gives him great pleasure to work with such outstanding materials.
Preparing for the Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
Ready to rock it!
Obviously, a man who enjoys his work.
The mighty Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Essentially a Flintstone-sized Porterhouse steak.
Dario explains that the Bistecca alla Fiorentina is the most primitive meat experience. For this cut of meat, only roasting at high heat on an open fire will bring out the best qualities. No salt, no pepper, just heat.
A gallery full of professional butchers learns from the master.
This is a hind leg portion. Dario explains how to use a cut normally ignored to make a tasty dish.
First, bone the whole piece.
Then, cut the top and bottom of the bone off and split it to get at the marrow.
Stuff the marrow into the leg and tie it with butchers string. Roast until done.
A mighty section of butt.
A steak from the thigh/butt. Delicious roasted.
Laurence Jossel, head chef and owner of Nopa, roasted the Bistecca alla Fiorentina in Nopa's open hearth fire. Dario explained the process; 5min one side, 5min other side, 15min standing on its bone. Rest for 5min and carve. No salt, no pepper, just heat for the ultimate in the primitive meat experience.
Dario declaims over the Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
And, now, let's eat!
You can see how utterly rare this steak is cooked. It was the best steak I have ever tasted. You tasted this meat with your whole body, it coursed through you like a drug.
Dario finishes the demonstration with a declaration of principles for the artisan approach to his craft. Respect for the animal, respect for the people who will eat the animal, respect for the craft. Conscious action informed by the artisan's experience and training.
And joy. Lots of joy. Joy for life, love, for eating and sharing food. And wine. And Dante. You get the picture.
Thanks to Meatpaper, an event sponsor.
Dario and Kim are long-time subscribers.
Dario with his friend, the butcher/owner of Divisadero Meat Market.
Dario signing a book done of him, his shop and his town, Douglas Gayeton's magnificent "Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town".
Dario and Marcia Gagliardi "The TableHopper"
Dario and Kim
Dario, Marissa and Jon