Ken Friedman owns the Spotted Pig with Meathead god Batali.Photo: Melissa Hom
The Gobbler recently introduced the world to what he called the “Refined Meathead” school of cooking. Meatheads are mostly male, pork- and offal-obsessed cooks who disdain classical (read “French”) haute cuisine in favor of an earthier brand of cuisine. Mario Batali is king of the Meatheads. David Chang is a Meathead. Daniel Boulud, who grew up eating robust Lyonnaise food and cooks the best pork belly in town when he feels like it, is a closet Meathead. Who are the rest of the Meatheads? How would you know one if you met one in the street? Here are the Gobbler’s Six Meathead Commandments.
Thou shalt consider tripe to be a breakfast food. Or duck’s hearts or jellied calves’ brains or any other variety of stomach-turning offal that goes pretty well on a slab of morning toast.
Thou shalt worship the great god Fergus. London chef Fergus Henderson’s restaurant St. John’s is the great mecca for Meatheads around the globe; his primer on “nose-to-tail eating,” called The Whole Beast is their bible.
Thou shalt also worship the great god Batali. The most talented of the Meathead chefs is personally responsible for foisting dishes like the great Italian delicacy bollito misto (“boiled meats”) on wary members of the culinary elite.
Thou shalt worship the pig. Meatheads are not picky about where they get their innards, but if they had to choose just one beast on which to practice nose-to-tail eating, it would be the sainted pig.
Thou shalt not distract the faithful from feeding. Classic Meathead restaurants (like St. John’s or Momofuku Ssäm Bar) are stripped-down venues, with few knickknacks on the walls to distract diners from the task at hand, plus long communal tables that are presumably easy to hose down.
Thou shalt curse the soufflé. All classically trained chefs are indebted to the French, but you won’t catch many Meatheads saying so. In Bill Buford’s great Meathead treatise Heat, “Fagotty French” is Batali’s pithy, oft-repeated summation of French cooking. — Adam Platt