Going well beyond farm-to-table dining and seasonal menus, the latest trend emerging in fine dining is the practice of curing your own meats. Already in Brisbane there are a few places running a dual core as both restaurant and salumeria. And for those with the capacity, the benefits of curing their own meat far outweighs the challenge. Absolute control over all variables means the yield is absolutely unique.
Where Cures Meat In-House In Brisbane?
On Brisbane’s northside, Spanish restaurant Vaquero has been stuck in curing their own meat for charcuterie since they opened in 2016. Named after mounted cattle herders, a sense of the intrepid underpins their ethos, so their kitchen is driven to live on the cutting edge. They already have a close working relationship with their suppliers, and are big supporters of sustainable, organic, and socially conscious farming methods.
Then cross the river in the Howard Smith Wharves precinct, the newly unveiled ARC Dining is all-in. Headed by chef Alanna Sapwell, ARC is driven by a food philosophy that champions low wastage and sustainability. Their operation is split between a restaurant and a wine bar, so they buy in whole carcasses and select choice cuts for the restaurant and, because curing is a golden cure to meat wastage, they use whatever’s leftover for charcuterie at the bar. This makes for more creative dishes that winkle out ARC’s point of difference, and cut down unnecessary wastage.
The growing popularity of this trend is underpinned by a unique experience that justifies going out to eat. Specialty curing is something special that cannot be recreated at home, at least not easily. Few homes in Brisbane have the facilities to butcher, store, and cure part of a carcass, and even fewer people have the skills. But besides the logistical impediment, the move towards DIY butchering and curing reflects a zeitgeist with both eyes set 20 years in the future.
What’s Driving The Trend?
All the worst perpetrators of unsustainable practises, from politicians and energy companies to banks and supermarkets, have started campaigning on platforms promising a more sustainable future in order to catch the next generation of loyal customers. And why not? Sustainability is so hot right now. It’s something that, as millennials, we fear will be our undoing, and our surge in environmental concern has forced a serious makeover from all the least sustainable industries, so it’s no surprise that it has started to pervade the fine dining realm.
Further, expecting to have choice cuts of meat and every possible ingredient on demand all year round is taxing on every link of the supply chain, from the consumer all the way down to the producer. Instead, we’ve noticed a rising trend towards unconventional dishes, like ARC’s goose prosciutto, that prove genius flourishes within restraint.
More On The Horizon
With a boom currently well underway in the CBD and urban sprawl expanding our city at an unprecedented rate, there are a handful of reaturants and bars slated to open late this year that all recognise the importance of leaning toward a more consciencious, sustainable way to thrive in the industry. One shining example is the impending opening of 22 Agnes (brainchild of chef Ben Williamson) which will focus heavily on zero waste practices.
Where Is It Taking Us?
The choice to butcher and cure on site is a more complex extension of a philosophy to make everything from scratch. It could start with something as small as house-made bread, but an approach that champions absolute control of all variables could see future restaurants operating in a closed loop, and becoming a fully sustainable microecosystem similar to Dan Barber’s Blue Hill Farm. With aeroponic technology on the up, this could happen sooner than you think.
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Image credit: Edi Libedinsky via Unsplash