Underbelly's Chris Shepherd to Star at Meatopia Texas in San Antonio

For years the beau monde of cuisine derided Texas food as slabs of tasteless meat thrown on an open fire.

But it's that relationship with meat and fire, along with a cadre of inventive chefs, that has attracted Meatopia, a self-described celebration of meat, to the state. "I believe in Texas as the greatest meat-eating region of the country," says Josh Ozersky, a food writer and the founder of Meatopia. "Now you're beginning to see a true elevation and recognition of live-fire cooking."

The festival will take place November 2-3 at the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio and feature some of Texas's most notable chefs -- including Houston's own Chris Shepherd, of Underbelly -- who will all bring signature touches to their dishes. Shepherd is preparing a roasted spitted whole boar.

Others dishes on offer include wood-roasted whole leg of veal with Argentine grilled sweetbreads topped with spicy chimichurri chorizo, and a hot paprika beef heart and melted beef cheek with charred haricot vert salad, goat cheese and cardamom cashews. Celebrated culinary names, along with Shepherd, will be cooking, including Top Chef winner Paul Qui, Tim Byers of Smoke in Dallas, and Geronimo Lopez at NAO in San Antonio. In all, more than 30 chefs will show their stuff during the weekend.

The event will feature the best of the diversity in Texas cooking, from our Mexican origins to the Asian cuisine that flourishes today. "We have a woman doing Thai spareribs, an amazing American chef doing cabrito tacos, a beef tenderloin poached in olive oils," Ozersky says.

There will be a multitude of animals for the sampling, including hoggid, a lamb that's between one and two years old. Clearly, Ozersky, who writes for Esquire and other publications, is a bit of a meat fanatic. His first book was called Meat Me in Manhattan, and he's also written The Hamburger: A History. Meat and fire are "the very stuff of life on earth," he says. Texans, he added, get that.

Meatopia Texas kicks off on Saturday with the Beefsteak, a practice that was also known as the New York State steak dinner. It originated in the Gilded Age and featured infinite platters of dry-aged steaks served to guests wearing aprons. It was a glutton's idea of heaven; Joseph Mitchell captured the Beefsteak well in a 1939 New Yorker article, "All You Can Hold For Five Bucks."

Sunday is Meatopia proper, and quail, bison, duck, veal and much more will be spitted and roasted and put on plate and platter.

Meatopia held its first event ten years ago, in New York, and is beginning to branch out. It debuted in London in September of this year, and given the size and variety of our state's culinary repertoire, Ozersky says he could one day imagine multiple Meatopias in Texas, perhaps even one staged in Houston. "It would be great to bring a kind of global culinary attention to a region that I still think is underappreciated."

For further information about Meatopia Texas and to purchase tickets, visit Meatopia Texas's site.

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