Q&A: Josh Ozersky, Creator of Meatopia
Coming this Saturday, Sept. 8, is Meatopia, an all-out, gut-busting session of meat consumption on Randall's Island featuring dishes by April Bloomfield, Marc Forgione and Michael White, just to name a few. Oh, and a whole, thousand-pound steer grilled by Meat Man Pat LaFrieda.
While some call it the "Woodstock of Edible Animals," which is pretty accurate, Meatopia is actually a glimpse of the chef's primal experience – that cross between creativity and gut intuition that results after being presented with a whole animal, and the chef asking him or herself, simply, "What am I going to do with each and every part of this?"
To learn more, we picked the brain of Meatopia creator Josh Ozersky, who also happens to be a James Beard Award-winning writer and author. If it once walked and mooed, oinked or baaaah'd, Ozersky's your man.
Lot18: How did you come up for the idea for Meatopia? And when did you begin your love affair with meat?
Ozersky: The first Meatopia was the book party for my "Meat me in Manhattan," my carnivore's guide, written under the pen name of "Mr. Cutlets." It featured Katz's salami, Charles Southern Kitchen fried chicken, pernil for Spanish-American foods, and ribs from NY Noodletown. As for my meat attraction, like most fetishes, it started as a child when I encountered the sizzling edge of a lamb chop for the first time.
Do you eat all of the dishes that are prepared? Do you have a Kobayashi-like training regimen to prepare you for the event?
I do eat all the dishes. The chefs would be greatly affronted if I didn't. The training regimen you refer to consists of my daily routine of eating meat.
What preparations or cuts of meat that may have first turned you off
have you been most surprised by?
I never thought I would be a sweetbreads fan; I had a textural problem with them. Now I love them. And I was at one time leery of head meat, until I discovered the joys of jowls.
How many notches do you have on your bedpost for vegetarian-to-meat-lover conversions?
Let me just say this: my wife was a vegan for 15 years.
What is your most favorite/most memorable meat-and-wine pairing?
Epigram of lamb at Michel Rostang when I was 19, served with Lynch Bages of I don't know what year. Mind-blowing; I was a star baby after that event.
Even though there is no wine at the event (ahem), how important do you think beverages are to a meal and what wine would you pair with Jonathan Sawyer’s “Brains and Bread” dish?
Cold Amstel Light followed by George Dickel bourbon punch. Enough said.
Thoughts or experiences with white wine and red meat?
Paul Grieco and Aldo Sohm have converted me with their gospel of Riesling, but I haven't gone that far yet.