Being the Change, Firefly Dreams, California's Fallen Soldiers, Vista Strawberry Festival, Poe Ballantine
2:30 p.m., May 23
It’s always fun hanging with chefs. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of interviewing many in my day, but the most enjoyable gastronome intermingling I’ve experienced have been during after-work chef meet-ups. One-on-one interviews are friendly enough, but mostly business-like. Get a bunch of chefs together off-the-clock and you’re guaranteed plenty of shop talk, ball-busting, laughter, and beer. What’s not to like?
The last pro culinarian assembly I attended happened last week at Carnitas’ Snack Shack. Owner and pork-loving chef Hanis Cavin was hosting an early planning meeting with seven of his contemporaries going by the collective nickname, The Crazy Eight (originally, it was The Elite Eight, but apparently lunacy won out over highbrowism), for an event taking place in October at The Handlery Hotel (950 Hotel Circle North, Mission Valley). I was there to gather information like a fly on the wall occasionally buzzing down long enough for a sip of suds from Carnitas’ Pig Pen tap system.
It’s unusual for chefs to plan this far in advance for an event, but this one, dubbed The Heavenly Hog Fall Pig-Out, is an ambitious one. Conceived by The Handlery’s Karl Prohaska, innovator of events including the Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Festival and The Five Chef Societe Dinner, it’s intended to serve as the ultimate pairing dinner. And though the octet spent the evening downing ales from Green Flash, Societe, and Ballast Point, many intend to go beyond beer for the Pig Out.
According to Prohaska, anything goes where beverages are concerned—rare beers, esoteric wines, small-batch spirits. The only mandate is that they must go perfectly with each chef’s dish. All of those plates will center around the use of a particular cut of pork. In addition to potent potables, the chefs are aiming to use as many different parts from Heritage Pork hogs as possible. The most exciting moment in the meeting came when each chef pulled an index card to figure out what cut they’d be working with. The following is how it all shook out.
Karl Prohaska, The Handlery Hotel: shoulder/butt Kyle Bergman, Ritual Tavern: belly Tommy Fraioli, Sea Rocket Bistro: loin Olivier Bioteau, Farm House Café: ribs Rich Sweeney, R Gang Eatery & Southpaw Social Club: trotters/shanks Matt Richman, Table 926: head Anthony Sinsay, Burlap: wild card (his pick, likely offal) Hanis Cavin, Carnitas’ Snack Shack: skin/fat
Not everybody’s figured out their dishes, but one thing’s for certain. Cavin’s skin and/or fat-based dish will be a dessert. Intrigued? If so, tickets for the Fall Pig Out are available online. The event will take place on October 11 at The Handlery’s outdoor garden.