Usually, an event that features more than a dozen of Houston’s top chefs would be indoors, with dressed-up diners sitting at a nice table waiting for pretty plates to be served to them.
This is not that kind of event.
Instead, this Sunday, March 20, Toby Rodriguez of Lache Pas Boucherie et Cuisine, in conjunction with Felix Florez of Black Hill Ranch and Louisiana seafood expert Jim Gossen, is hosting an old-fashioned boucherie (that’s the pretty French word for “butchery”) in Hockley, Texas (just outside of Cypress). It is an all-day event running from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and will be a day of education for diners. It demonstrates what, exactly, taking meat from ranch to table entails.
It's the second stop of a 20-city tour for Rodriguez. He's traveling the country butchering hogs and sharing the traditions of the Cajun boucherie with chefs of the area.
The chef line up includes Danny Trace, Carl Walker, Javier Lopez and Jose Arevalo (Brennan’s of Houston); Mike McElroy (The Durham House); Greg Lowry and Matt Lovelace (formerly of Triniti and Pour Society); Joe Cervantes (Killen’s Steakhouse); Adam Garcia (Coltivare); Spencer Serrette (formerly of Benjy’s); Richard Knight (Hunky Dory); Pedro Garcia (El Meson); Graham Laborde (Bernadine’s); Michael Nutt (Brasserie Max & Julie); Richard Kaplan and Max Torres (Weights + Measures); and Jordan Asher (formerly of Dosi; now with the soon-to-be-open Ritual).
Boucheries used to be common in Louisiana and still are for special occasions in rural areas. It is an occasion for friends and neighbors to join together and help with the work of butchering and preparing a whole pig. One of the goals is for nothing to be wasted and utilizing the whole animal is a lot of work. At the end, though, the hard work is rewarded with a joyful feast.
These days, most of us are divorced from the process. Meat is neatly wrapped in plastic and sold on Styrofoam trays. We’re never exposed to the life that has to be taken in order to eat meat. Sunday’s boucherie is not going to be for the squeamish, as it will begin with killing a pig. For those who have never hunted or ranched, it’s going to be difficult—but also a thoughtful experience that will bring a deeper understanding of what it takes to put meat on the plate.
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Once the most difficult part of the day is over, it will be followed by butchering demonstrations, cooking lessons and a whole lot of food prepared by the chefs. Topics covered will include boudin and boudin noir, gratons (cracklins), fraisseurs (a rich stew of organ meats), saucisse de voile (sausage), backbone fricasse, head cheese, tasso, chaudin (pork stomach stuffed with seasoned meat) and saucisse de graisse (fat sausage).
In addition, Bayou Teche and Galilee Wines will provide the adult beverages.
Tickets for the all-day event are $100 (plus a nominal web site purchase fee) and includes all food and demonstrations.