Cat’s Externship: Real, Meaty Experience.

Externship: Real, Life Experience.

As graduates of two of the nation’s most renowned culinary institutes, Chris and James both know about the importance of getting an externship during school, and they also know just how pivotal said experience can be in making a future career move.

When Cat Gleason, a current student at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY (James’ alma matter) reached out to inquire about doing her externship at Porter Road Butcher, the two immediately jumped at the opportunity to become a certified and qualified location in the eyes of the CIA.

Cat Gleason | Porter Road ButcherWE have our own extern now!” James said. “How freaking cool is that?! Maybe now we’ll get one every year…”

Don’t get ahead of yourself, pal.

According to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts’ (Chris’ alma matter) website, “The goal of an externship is to provide students with industry experience. [This] is your opportunity to see how a company achieves [both] profitability and high quality.”

In other words, an externship is a learning opportunity. It’s research. It’s a time to explore all of the possibilities and potentially rule some things out. And it’s also a cool way for the “host” of the extern to give back to their roots.

For Cat, she wanted to learn and research and explore the world of butchering. She’s here for the meat. And we’re psyched to have her.

Unlike an internship, a term that has achieved four-letter-word sentiments in today’s job-hungry crowd, externships in the culinary world often occur in lieu of regular classes during the school year (versus during the summertime or post-graduation) and also provide students with the opportunity to apply the skills that they’ve learned so far to a real world situation. No coffee runs or copy-making here.

Cat began culinary school in December of 2014 and at just 18 years old, decided to drive down to Nashville to expand upon her fundamental knowledge of butchering. “We took a class where we learned about the basics and I really enjoyed that,” she said. “Lots of it was watching the professor break down the primals but we didn’t get too hands on; I want to feel confident about butchering and doing it all myself.”

Throughout her 15-weeks in Nashville, Cat will be working at all of PRB’s locations, switching back and forth between the East Shop and West, as well as taking trips up to PRB Meat Co. in Kentucky where all of our animals are processed. “I’m really excited to go to the slaughterhouse,” she said. “I’m a little nervous to see the animals actually get killed, but I still want to.”

Although Cat claims that she’s not a person who generally likes to have much fun (???), she said she is interested in trying her hands (and feet) at power yoga during her time here, in addition to exploring Nashville’s restaurant scene—don’t try to invite her to a movie though; she doesn’t like them.

We’re excited to have her here on our team, we’re eager to teach her, and we’re thrilled to pass the butchering torch down to an aspiring culinarian.

Welcome, Cat!

Kale-ing It

Team PRBIt was a warm spring evening filled with food, drinks, foodies, and a bunch of kale—okay, not just like, one bunch, like a whole lot of bunches of kale.

Four of Nashville’s most decorated chefs competed in the Scene’s seventh annual Iron Fork Competition last night, and PRB’s owners Chris Carter and James Peisker were the first ever chef team.

“I know what he’s good at, and he knows what I’m good at…” James said on the morning of the competition, “We’re very familiar with each other in the kitchen and we trust each other. I’m feeling pretty confident.”

Over two dozen local Nashville restaurants showed up to the event, offering hungry ticket-holders the opportunity to sample a variety of small bites, sip on an assortment of crafty cocktails, and all the while manage to keep one eye on the big screen as the culinary action heated up.

Although the trademark “allez cuisine!” from Iron Chef America’s Mark Dacascos was missing when the competition commenced, the excitement and energy in the room felt similarly as spirited, and our friend Jesse Goldstein helped keep the spirits high as he emceed the event and had a nerve-calming bourbon moment with team PRB.

Final touches on the Iron Fork challengeWith four chefs competing in Nashville’s version of this culinary faceoff—instead of the traditional one-on-one battle that takes place on the Food Network’s famed show—each chef (or chef team in our case) blindly chose a number, which would dictate the order in which they were to present their dish. Against Chris and James were Lockeland Table’s Hal Holden-Bache, The 404’s Matt Bolus, and Kristen Gregory of Firefly Grille.

Freshly clad in brand new denim-and-brown PRB embroidered aprons, the butcher boys wound up with lucky #1, meaning they would begin cooking first, they served their creation to the judges before they were totally kaled out, and then they just got to sit back, have a drink, and watch as the rest of their competitors continued to sweat. It was pretty toasty in there.

As soon as the secret ingredient was announced, Chris and James began formulating a plan and then quickly grabbed the pantry items they would need to really kale it in the competition—so many kaler punning opportunities immediately arose.

And they were off!

Before anyone could weave through the crowd to find their cooking station, Chris and James had already finished expertly slicing and dicing, while neighboring chef Hal Holden-Bache looked on with eyes that had doubled in size. Bet you didn’t think them butchers would have such quick and precise knife work on a little ole shallot, didja, Hal?

TChris Chamberlain gives it a tastehe pine nuts were toasting, shallots sautéing, Chris was pulsing kale in the Vitamix, James was whisking butter over the stovetop, and then it suddenly came together: Creamy Kale Risotto with Butter-Poached Shrimp, and a Fresh Kale Salad.

I mean, come on.

In keeping the most common criticisms from Iron Chef in mind, the butcher boys made an effort to truly “celebrate kale,” using it as the flavor foundation for their dish. The earthy flavor and green color were pronounced and vibrant in the risotto, while the raw kale salad on top provided a textural contrast and expressed the beauty of the ingredient’s pure form. Plus, three Gulf shrimp added a pop with both their contrasting pink color and their sweet, buttery flavor.

The odds were all in their favor: Chris and James went first; the dish was plated beautifully; the green and pink color scheme was eye-catching; Vivek (on the panel of judges) went back for seconds of dish #1 (our risotto) after tasting dish #2; and the creamy kale risotto wasn’t just a celebration of kale, it was like the Kale Jubilee.

We had it in the bag.

Or so we thought.

In the end, it was Hal Holden-Bache of Lockeland Table who took home the coveted Golden Fork. His New Zealand rack of lamb served atop a potato kale hash and topped with a fresh kale salad somehow managed to surpass team PRB’s magnificent kale risotto by just two measly points, as we later came to find.

While their hearts fell heavy in their chests, disappointed at yet another second place finish, Chris and James shook hands with the victor and then simply took to the bourbon bottle in to continue the festivities of the evening. On the bright side, Chris made away with half a case of wine and a pint of Four Roses when the night concluded, so not all was lost.

Who really wants a silly ol trophy anyway?

 

We want to give a huge “thank you” to the Nashville Scene for putting on such a fun and delicious event, and for including the chefs of Porter Road Butcher in the competition! Additionally, big thanks to our amazing sous-chefs from the Art Institute for keeping us cool in the heat of the kitchen. We had a great time and hope to be invited back in the future!PRB Iron Fork Crew

James Peisker to Speak at the American Culinary Federation Regional Conference

Have you ever heard of the American Culinary Federation? Like, the culinary federation of America. Not of Tennessee; not of Nashville. America.

Well, James Peisker is a member of the American Culinary Federation. In fact, he’s been a member since he was just 17 years old. And apparently the ACF really appreciates his loyalty.

If you haven’t heard of it, the American Culinary Federation is an organization that has been the authority on cooking in America since 1929. Comprised of the nation’s premier chefs, and stretching to include over 20,000 members and 200 chapters, the ACF is a pretty big deal within the culinary community. The mission of ACF is to continue to educate their chefs and members, keeping them on the cutting edge of the culinary scene via certifications and publications, and through holding seminars, conferences, and other educational culinary events. They want to support their members in both their education and their accomplishments. Talk about awesome.

James Peisker of Porter Road Butcher is the King of our Hearts So we were pretty psyched to find out that the American Culinary Federation—again, that’s the authority on cooking; the premier professional organization for chefs; an organization focused on promoting the professional image of American chefs worldwide—invited our own James Peisker to be a headlining speaker at their 2014 Regional Conference held in St. Louis, Missouri.

A St. Louis native and a lover of the culinary scene where his career took flight, James was more than happy to accept their invitation and will be traveling to his hometown for the weekend in order to share his knowledge of whole animal butchery and flex his culinary muscles for the region to see.

On Monday the 17th from 2:15 to 3:15 he will lead a session about whole animal butchery and charcuterie, and will then likely spend the rest of his time in STL sniffing out where to find the best bourbon…and also maybe learning a little somethin-somethin, networking in the culinary community, and eating a bite of some delicious cuisine here and there.

So let’s go ahead and give a big ole “hurrah!” for that.

We Porter Road folk are incredibly proud of James, and his opportunity to share his knowledge and skills in such a widely revered and respected arena. Of course, our hearts will be weeping while he is away from us, but wish him the best of luck—even though, let’s be real: this guy loves to talk in front of a crowd; he’s gonna kill it.

Butcher Demo with James Peisker

Sure, you’ve come in to visit the shop; you’ve perused the meat that resides in the case; you’ve tried to peak at the studs hacking away in the back; and you’ve probably drooled down your chin as one of our guys to cut you an extra thick filet off that big ole tenderloin.

Porter Road Butcher's James Peisker stops to explain during his Butcher DemoBut did you ever find yourself wondering about the mechanics of what it is these guys really do? Ever wonder exactly where on the pig the loin really resides? Ever thought to yourself, “Man, this PRB sausage is delicious…I wonder what they actually put into it to make my Wednesday morning breakfast so mouthwatering and titillating?”

Now all your questions can be answered.

On Sunday March 9th, PRB’s very own James Peisker is holding an exclusive Butchering Demo for a group of just 10 lucky pig-lovers.

The Butcher Demo, which will be held at our Charlotte Avenue shop, begins at 12 pm and will end at approximately 3:00–leaving you plenty of time to go home and get your grill on afterwards. James, who has been working in the food industry since his early adolescence and butchering since the age of 18, will start off by sharing a little about his experience with the restaurant biz, and then move on to processing a pig right before your eyes: butchering the animal, breaking it down into various parts and cuts, making fresh and delicious sausage, explaining the process of makin’ bacon, and then sending you home with goodies to cook! And a T-Shirt. Don’t forget the t-shirt.

If you’re the type that likes pigging out on a Sunday afternoon, Sunday March 9th is gonna be just the ticket. And then some. This demo puts “pigging out” into a whole new arena.

Tickets are $200 a person. Guests may sign up for the event at either our west or east shops, but the ticket amount must be paid in full in order to hold a spot.

With only 10 spots available, tickets will go fast; so sign up today!

Half a pig is ready to be processed at Porter Road Butcher

This big piggy is gonna go wee wee wee all the way to your home.