The ( culinary) world is a big, beautiful, interesting, evolving place, and it’s center is not necessarily in our own backyard :-)

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Hans Susser  wrote on LinkedIn
about the vanishing need of butchery knowledge by chef‘s :

Dear fellow professionals,
It always amazes me how many americans think we are in the center of the world and only our practices make sense and are up to date. The fact is that in most countries around the world there is a paralel world of  meat utilisation. While there are comercial  slaughterhouses everywhere, the majority of meat and  seafood is processed on a much smaller scale. Those  chef’s who travel the world practicing their trade will be faced with the fact of seeing whole  animals being delivered to their hotels and restaurants and then broken down on the property. Dishes are being cooked from every part of the animal,including the blood, feet, snout, heads, etc, etc. A chef would look pretty silly and useless not to be able to teach his staff to work more time effective, cost effective and cleaner while doing these tasks. Then you have the areas where game is a big attraction during the seasons and again, many hunters just take out the digestive tract and deliver the animal whole, pelt, head, innards, EVERYTHING 🙂
Imagine the waste which would occur (and it does) when the animals are not handled by knowledgeable folks.
Unnecessary craft and skills ? Not in my opinion, unless you plan to work in a environment without creativity. I am aware that sometimes we don’t have the opportunity to be creative to a certain point, after all, we need enough customers who are willing to pay for dishes they have never heard of or are not currently on the “in”list. However, if given the chance, we should embrace the opportunity to be well rounded chef’s who can carry on the traditional skills which will always be needed in one place or another, during one time or another.
While I have embraced the convenience and cost effectiveness of buying pre-cut meat and fish on many occasions and places, being able to break down the whole animal was a far more common requirement during my career. I have also worked with a professionally trained american butcher who was amazed by how much he could learn from me in all aspects of  butchery, from the traditional cuts as they are done around the world, down to sausage making and breaking down seafood. So in conclusion, it is my opinion that if you work in an environment where certain skills are not required, please don’t dismiss them as being unnecessary and antiquated.
The ( culinary) world is a big, beautiful, interesting, evolving place, and it’s center is not necessarily in our own backyard 🙂

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6 comments

  1. Chef,
    What you say is true .But we do have high standards and make it possable for non buthchers to cook. Our challenge is to find backers who would want a restaurant that does full butchery .I believe this could and should be done by large hotels and may have a dollar advantage .You have reinvigerated my long time dream .Safety will be the key ,as it is with all operations it is more so in meat breaking and retail cut production.
    chefwilliamgibson@gmail>com

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  2. I think this particular “problem” does have many facets. You mentioned the “in” factor. I believe this is about half the obstacle here. While folks, which grew up recently in the “city”, and I take Vienna, my hometown, as an example, you would have a hard time selling innards of any sort. While in the “country side” it is not as bad, yet. Therefore it is not necessary for a restaurant or hotel to teach these skills. Preparing, cooking AND eating.
    Which would bring me to the next point. I grew up with “home slaughtered” animals. Cows, chicken, goats, pigs and sheep, fish and of course all seasonal game. There where rituals involved in preparing certain parts of the animal, until ALL parts where utilized, and NOTHING was wasted. It is a hard sell today, if you want your customers eat the “not so nice parts” of an animal. Fillet vs. kidneys?!?!
    Having travelled once around the world professionally for thirty years, in many countries, people wouldn’t even consider eating certain parts of the animal. Of course, there are the horror stories of having fresh sheep-eyes offered to you in the dessert of Jordan, or similar stories.
    BUT, as I mentioned earlier, I am from Vienna, and if you flick through an old Viennese cookbook, you’ll find all sorts of “unusual” dishes. It would be a blooming shame if we neglect to remember, and teach, how to prepare, cook and most importantly enjoy these delicacies.

    I say, …. be curious, never stop learning, and do not turn down an opportunity to experience new things …. especially food ….

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  3. Couldnt agree more we are loosing traditional skills and dishes as the younger chefs are not seen them anymore
    Butchery skills in younger chefs is all but gone
    We just broke down a deer a bit back and the cdps had no idea even where to start far far to much prep prepped stuff been bought
    Great piece by you

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