PORTLAND — They may not have gone hog wild, but students at Portland Arts and Technology High School got a close-up look last week at where some of their food comes from.
Two culinary classes of aspiring chefs received butchering demonstrations on March 4 from two local experts. Each Culinary Concepts class saw half of a 300-pound pig broken down to get a glimpse of what the different types of meat are.
“We talk about cooking all the time, but hardly ever butchering,” PATHS chef instructor Doug Armstrong said.
Omen Viele, the butcher at Rosemont Market, and Matt Ginn, chef at the Mediterranean restaurant Evo coming to the Hyatt Place hotel, gave the students a fresh look at farm-to-table practices by breaking down the pig, which came from Maine Family Farms.
“There’s so many opportunities other than restaurants (in the food industry),” Ginn said, ranging from butchering meats to marketing.
Armstrong said it was nice to bring in outside chefs to reinforce the lessons he’s teaching in the classroom, as well as to provide a sense of awareness of where food comes from. This is the second year a pig has been butchered in one of Armstrong’s classes.
“This is just another aspect of culinary arts I want to introduce them to,” Armstrong said. “The trend today is so heavy into farm to table.”
Ginn said farm to table “transcends a trend” and is now an industry staple.
“There’s more (to a pig) than just a pork chop or tenderloin,” he added.
Ginn and Viele broke down a 150-pound half into five main cuts, known as primals. These range from the shoulder, where prosciutto comes from, to the belly, which produces bacon. Some parts, like the loins and pork chops, sell quickly in restaurants, while it takes longer to go through the rest of the animal.
“The kids take away sustainability (lessons),” Ginn said, adding they learn how to use the legs, bellies and ribs and not just “what you buy in the store.”
Armstrong said the meat will be used there in class programs and at the school, as specials like sausage and pulled pork in the cafe.
“We’ll play around with it,” Armstrong said. “They just need to look up recipes.”
Omen Viele, left, and Matt Ginn demonstrate how to break down half a pig weighing 150 pounds in a culinary class butchering demonstration at Portland Arts and Technology High School on March 4.