Posts Tagged ‘adam sappington’

The Whole Hog

August 5th, 2011


My first day at the Country Cat, watching Adam Sappington butcher a whole hog, was probably one of my most memorable experiences at the restaurant.  I came in a couple hours early because I didn’t know anyone and didn’t yet know how this restaurant operated.  I was searching, even before the restaurant  had opened, for this job.  Freshly returned to Portland after ten years of loitering around the Americas I needed to recoup before I was ready for commitment.  So I lived rent free in the basement of some wonderful friends, worked at a burger joint, and rode the bus to work.  Until this opportunity surfaced.

I remembered when Wilwood opened in ’94.  I had just graduated college and was hired at the Black Rabbit at McMenamin’s Edgefield 2 months after opening.  I was 22 years old…the rest of the wait staff were well into their 30’s and very  professional. The idea to  butcher a whole hog was not yet in the culinary jargon back then…chefs were still sprinkling parsely around the rim of the plates!  These veterans had been in the restaurant business for a long time, but the idea to go back to the farm traditions was just beginning.

The knowledge that filled that resturant astounded me and soaked into my young mind.  In 1994 the Farm to Table phenomenon was new, and the thought to butcher a whole hog for a restaurant seemed a waste of resources.  This was before Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential shocked the world and restaurants were merely places to eat, not places to revere, or eventually work.

“Butcher a whole hog,” my boss says,” or turn your back on what food is about.  You have to go back to the basics and understand where your food comes from and how it gets to your plate.  Before you butcher the whole hog, you  have to understand how the animal is raised,  slaughtered,  and how it gets to your kitchen.  Good food ain’t easy.”  That last sentence sums up what humans have been diligently studying for many thousands of years: how to alter the chemical make up of food to maximize nutrition and taste.

I don’t know everything about the restaurant business, but I do know the benefits of being able to butcher a whole hog and  how to use the whole animal.  I know, from personal experience on my grandfather’s farm, that a farmer who loves his animals and treats them with respect will produce the best quality  product.  So come watch us butcher a whole hog at


A bona fide steak: Beef at The Country Cat

May 28th, 2010

What do you look for in a steak?  Price? Hearty flavor?  Quality of life for the cattle  and a humane slaughter?  A healthy feed profile?  Eating isn’t simple anymore, and eating meat isn’t what it used to be.

In a world inundated with corn fed, chemically dependant cattle, it is difficult to get a good steak anymore.  Have we forgotten what good steak tastes like? Good beef tastes like the earth.  Like integrity.

The first real boss I had taught me about integerity.  Chef Willie Matson sat me down and explained  that a job accomplished with attention and focus was a job well done, even the humble washing of dishes.  Living life with full attention and focus is all one can really  endeavor  to do.

From the farm to your plate takes integrity: cattle raised with respect and fed healthy food; slaughtered quickly and humanely;  fabricated by your local butcher or chef.   That attention to detail is beginning to happen all around the country.   Attention to detail from Adam Sappington at The Country Cat

Cattle raised on industrial feedlots  ingest a steady diet of anti-biotics  to combat the destructive effects of a corn diet.  Certainly pasture raised beef lead a healthier, stress free life without anti-biotics, and the meat is healthier, but a partial grain diet does not necessarily degrade the health of the cattle.  In fact, the addition of grain to the diet can heighten the quality of the meat from a consumer’s point of view.  Adam’s palate for beef

The important component is the respect being given each animal.  That respect extends not only to the animal during the raising period, but also to the slaugther, fabrication, and the presentation to the end consumer…the public.  Respect the Customer and the Cattle

Grass fed, healthy cattle can be found.  Even grain fed, healthy cattle can be found.  Quality meat, raised, slaughtered and fabricated with integrity is out there.

The customer has to ask for it.  Put the onus on the butcher.  Ask the restaurant staff where the beef is from.  Find out whether you can purchase quality meat direct from the ranchers in your area.  In Portland

Integrity is beginning to be a valued commodity.  How do you like your steak?