Hordes turned out for Saturday night’s Chop Shop demonstration at the Levi’s Photo Workshop, the pig-butchering and photography class hybrid led by April Bloomfield. Facilitator and emcee Josh Ozersky opened the proceedings by introducing the crowd to the 300-pound “anonymous pink carcass” splayed on the butchering table. (“Let’s hear it for the carcass!,” someone shouted from the crowd.) With Toby McFarlan Pond’s flashbulbs going off, the photo equipment scattered around, and the gleaming white gallery walls, we could have been witnessing a fashion show or an indie-rock concert instead of a cooking seminar.
Spotted Pig chef Peter Cho wielded the hacksaw and did most of the muscle work on the pig, with Bloomfield taking a paring knife to the trimming and cleaning and offering recipes for the various parts. As they came off (the ham first, followed by a long cut down the middle through the ribs; then the butt and picnic shoulder, which was then separated from its foot, leaving the loin and the belly) Pond whisked them away to give them the “modern Old Master” treatment in his makeshift photo studio, and produced the first large-scale print of the evening while Cho was still working on the chops: a dramatically lit still life that ought to have been titled Ham in Chains.
Although the whole thing (or rather, the half-thing, since they had started with half an animal) took only 45 minutes, Bloomfield excused herself early to rejoin the line at the John Dory Oyster Bar. We cornered the chef on her way out, wondering whether she was actually coming around to a Spotted Pig Las Vegas. “No, that’s not true,” she said, seeming slightly weary of answering the question. “Not Vegas. Not ever, if I have anything to do with it.” And we’re guessing she’ll have a lot to do with it.