The terms of the chef’s trade have made their way into the general language. These days, expressions and words such as “knife skills,” “plating,” and “front-of-the-house” are likely to be tossed into conversations as readily as sriracha sauce on a dish.
The next new additions to the lexicon from the kitchen just may be “demo the primal,” or “break down the loin.” These are terms of the butchery trade and chefs as well as the likes of hunters and fishermen are learning and using this somewhat endangered practice.
The preparation of meat to be cooked and eaten – referred to as “dressing” the meat – has been outsourced over the past few decades by those who raise and sell meat. As a chef from Washington state recently pointed out in an article in an online trade publication, “It’s hard to get specifically what you want that way.” At least two local chefs feel the same way. They are part of a movement where food artisans are discovering the purpose and use of each cut of meat and seafood, thus adding to their work becoming a craft.
Champe Speidel, chef and owner, with wife, Lisa, of Persimmon Restaurant in Bristol and Persimmon Provisions butcher shop in Barrington, learned the butcher’s trade before he learned how to be a chef. He started working in a butcher shop in Florida to earn money for college, where he was studying political science.
A change in vision and a transfer to Johnson & Wales University came later, but he had become an accomplished meat cutter. Today all meats served in Speidel’s restaurant have been prepared at Speidel’s butcher shop with the vast majority personally cut by the chef himself. The craftsmanship dovetails with the “farm to fork” movement that has created almost a cult following among foodies finding their way to the tiny bistro on State Street, just half a block from Bristol Harbor.