If you've seen Bravo's Top Chef Kentucky Episode 7, you know Foxhollow's Beef was featured (!!!). Here's the second part to our adventure with renown butcher Dario Cecchini. Be sure to check out part one of our blog post if you missed it!
A few of us from the farm helped load the meat into the truck so it could be taken to the filming location. It was pretty funny as we tried awkwardly to hoist the sides with a forklift. Eventually, we just decided to lift each 450 lb half into the truck with our own hands. All of us felt a little rush of pride when we were done - Derek for raising it, Vince for processing it, and the rest of us for lifting it! There were a lot of high-fives and then it was over. The beef was on its way to Decca, where the episode would be filmed.
At Decca, Dario was joined by his wife (who also acted as his translator), and his friend and chef, Nancy Silverton. Each side of beef was set on a table in the courtyard and then the cast was led in to reveal the show’s guests.
If you’re like me, you might not have heard of Dario and Nancy, but by the way, the chefs freaked out, I quickly learned they were a really big deal. It was about that time that I started getting really, really nervous. Dario was clearly an outspoken and gregarious personality who had some strongly-held opinions about beef. What would he say about our beef on national television?
As he began to prepare the primal cuts, he explained what he was doing and peppered his instruction with his thoughts about food and community. He talked about the importance of respect for the animal and sustainable practices and I held my breath. When he said he could tell the meat was raised well, and he wished he could get beef like this at home, I cried! It was such a relief that he read in the marbling, texture, and fat that this animal had a good life and was taken care of. We can talk all day long about practice, but the product never lies. I can’t describe the pride and excitement I felt as his enthusiasm swept over all of us. I will never forget it.
He worked through the nine cuts and dropped each primal section into a bucket. When he had completed each side, the chefs got to choose a section and moved to Decca’s kitchen to quickly come up with a dish that would blow the judges away.
What struck me the most about Dario’s instruction was his view on beef overall. He said that most people think of beef products as a triangle of quality. At the bottom are the cheapest parts - ground beef and organ meats. In the middle of the triangle are your better cuts, and at the top are the rarest and tastiest bits like tenderloin.
He challenged that idea and said he considers meat a circle - every cut, every morsel is valuable and tasty when it has been raised with respect and prepared with care. I loved the way he reframed these long-held ideas and couldn’t wait to see what the chefs would do with their cuts of meat. We were about to try dishes using beef raised on our farm, prepared by some of the best chefs in the country.
Next time I learn just how hard it is to eat on camera as we try the Bravo’s Top Cheftestants’ preparations.
Check out our other Top Chef Kentucky adventures: Gardening with the Cheftestants, Becoming the Top Chef Gardener, Part One of Our Beef Appearance, Supper with Padma, and Growing Veggies with the Cheftestants.
Bravo's Top Chef airs Thursday nights at 9 pm ET on Bravo.