Archive for July, 2009

Where foodies go live interview

July 31, 2009 on 12:55 pm | In Blog, Events, Press | No Comments

On august 5th at 1pm PDT/ 3pm EST I will be interview live on:

So if you have any questions or things you might want to know make sure you get your questions in.

Bicycling Magazine gets hungry

July 31, 2009 on 11:32 am | In Blog, Press, Recipes | 1 Comment

Photo credit:

Deft Chef

At Incanto, Chris Cosentino uses locally raised ingredients–including his own—to create classic Italian dishes

By Michael Frank

When Cosentino couldn’t source the meat he wanted for his restaurant, he didn’t change his recipes—he changed the system. That’s typical of the 37-year-old executive chef of the widely acclaimed Incanto, in San Francisco’s Noe Valley, which specializes in Italian cuisine—and an array of meat and fish dishes that some would term adventurous. “Things like blood sausage, jowl, salumi, headcheese—these are as old as time in Italian cuisine,” Cosentino says. He explains that his need for these and other unique items on his menu prompted in-house dry curing, which snowballed into a business all its own. Boccalone Salumeria, purveyor of “tasty salted pig parts,” as the firm’s tagline reads, now features both online and storefront distribution (the latter in San Francisco’s renowned market in the Ferry Building).

Cosentino doesn’t see anything extraordinary in taking over an entire USDA meat-processing facility in Oakland to stock Boccalone, just as he doesn’t think it’s challenging to cook recipes that span the breadth of Italy. “I’m just cooking seasonally,” he says. Maybe after racing 24-hour solos on a singlespeed against pros—as Cosentino did during the late 1990s and early 2000s—he learned to appreciate stiff challenges. Or maybe it’s just that he’s used to taking chances, like in 2001, when he quit his career as a chef to race full time. “I’d get up at 5 a. m., ride, work five hours at the farmers’ market, then ride home— and then get in 120 miles.”

Those farming relationships—”those were my sponsors. The ranchers gave me meat, the farmers gave me vegetables”—are still the backbone of Cosentino’s success at Incanto. “Your food doesn’t come from Whole Foods,” he says. “Food is somebody’s livelihood; getting to know who grows your tomatoes is no different than getting to know the owner of your bike shop.”

In case you missed it, Cosentino isn’t shy about his agenda. “We’ve lost the basics of food and family,” he says, “of traditional recipes and of understanding how to cook by using every part of an animal. People say that’s just theater, that I’m obnoxious by suggesting people try warthog asshole or a piece of foie gras. I say judge me by what’s on the plate, by how it tastes.”

Post-Long-Ride Feast
Lobster Puttanesca

Salt, to taste
2 1-lb. lobsters
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons garlic, slivered
2 red Fresno chilies, sliced
1 tablespoon capers
22 anchovy fillets, salted and packed in olive oil
1/3 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 lb. bucatini pasta

This is a fast-cooking dish, so have all ingredients ready before you begin. Prepare an ice-water bath to shock the lobsters after cooking.

In a pot, bring to a boil one teaspoon of salt and enough water to cover the lobsters. (At this time, boil another pot of water to cook the pasta.) Add the lobsters and blanch for four minutes; remove and add to the water bath. When the lobsters are cool, remove the meat from the tail, claws and knuckles. Cube it and set aside. In a saute pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic and chilies, then the capers and anchovies, stirring constantly for about two minutes. Add the lobster meat and cook for two minutes (and put the pasta into the boiling water; cook until al dente), then add the herbs and tomatoes. Finish with lemon juice and extra olive oil if desired.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately over pasta. Serves: 2

FAT 19.6g
CARBS 184g

More From Cosentino
WORST RACE INJURY: “I crashed at night in Winter Park [Colorado] and popped my patella. They popped it back, and I finished.”
CURRENT BIKE: A Retrotec Half
FUTURE BIKE: “Inglis is building us a hot-dog bike with a warming chamber so we can serve Boccalone hot dogs at the ballpark.”
EAT AT INCANTO: 1550 Church Street, San Francisco; 415/641-4500;

sing a song of brains and eggs

July 31, 2009 on 11:03 am | In Blog, Press | 1 Comment

When my brother in law  Michael Hearst asked me for a recipe to turn into a song I was a bit surprised. He had already finished a CD with authors ” As Smart As We Are” so I knew it was a fun project. If you look in past posts I included the song on the site here. Its looks like gourmet magazine found out about the project and wrote it up take a look after the break.

Continue reading sing a song of brains and eggs…

Chefs vs City

July 22, 2009 on 9:38 am | In Blog, Events, Press | 2 Comments

Here it is, the time is nearing for my new show to premiere. check it out its a lot of fun working with Aaron on these challenge. For more info on the show check out food network by clicking on the picture of Aaron and I.

Gourmet My day on a plate

July 14, 2009 on 7:46 am | In Blog, Offal, Press | 1 Comment

My Day on a Plate: Chris Cosentino


On a recent spring day we asked Chris Cosentino—the offal-loving chef behind San Francisco’s Incanto restaurant and Boccalone Salumeria—to tell us every single thing he ate and drank over the previous 24 hours. In the first installment of our My Day on a Plate series, Cosentino reveals there’s more to his free-ranging, nonstop appetite—and his cooking—than coxcombs, pig’s heads, and tripe. Fourteen double espressos, anyone?

chris cosentino

Incanto’s Chris Cosentino (right) and Mark Pastore examine the wares at their Boccalone salumi factory in Oakland, California.

I have a four-year-old son, and you wake up pretty early when there’s a kid in the house. I like to start my day with an espresso made from Blue Bottle coffee. We have a Rancilio Silvio, which is a dynamite little machine, all stainless steel. James Freeman from Blue Bottle—our sons like to play together—set up a proper grinder in our house yesterday, which was a birthday present from my wife.

I got to Incanto yesterday at 8:15 in the morning; we were in full-on Sunday brunch mode. I cured Arctic char in grappa and fennel, since wild salmon isn’t available right now, so I was slicing that and tasting away. And then there was all the other brunch stuff—the blood sausage, the Easton’s sausage, about 30 pieces of pancetta. I was tasting everything all morning.

Did I do lunch? Not really. I eat staff meals occasionally, but for me there’s never much of a sit-down-and-eat lunch. We did whole roasted lamb neck yesterday with baby fava beans, so I did eat a bunch of those, along with some house-ground whole-wheat polenta, and then I just kept grazing all afternoon. I knocked back about 14 double espressos, which is typical. Our coffee comes from Mr. Espresso, a great wood-fire roaster over in Oakland. I drank lots and lots of sparkling water (we have our own filtration system here), and I ate three hot-cross buns, which we make in-house, with strawberry jam. And then I drank a strawberry Italian soda we make here, too. Way too much sweet stuff–my gut hurts from all that shit!

Then I ate some ham with mint salsa, which we presented for lunch and dinner yesterday, some sliced leg of spring lamb, and some peas with honey and a knife. You know what that is, right? It’s from the first chapter of Winnie the Pooh:

I eat my peas with honey
I’ve done it all my life
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on the knife!

We serve them at Incanto with a honeycomb. I had a bowl of those.

Finally, at 8 o’clock, I actually sat down and ate with my family. I had two glasses of Bortolomiol, a brut Prosecco, and then I had a glass of white from Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, and I ended up having our mint malfatti, which we serve with beef brasato—beef braised with tomato, red wine, and mint stems. You fold the mint into it at the end. People don’t know this, but mint is the number-one-used herb in Italy. My son made the malfatti with Hector, my prep guy. He wanted to eat what he made. What else did I have? Not much. Oh, I had an Anchor Steam.

I didn’t get home so late last night, maybe around 10:30. Sunday is usually my family day, but I pulled a good 14 at the restaurant. I had another beer when I got home, a Lagunitas IPA. I’ve stopped eating anything super late at night. I’m going to do a 60-mile ride on my bike next week, so I’ve been trying to get back into shape.

So what did I have this morning? More Blue Bottle coffee, but this time it was from the new grinder. Pretty great. Then I took my son to school, and came to work. I’m always the first cut on our focaccia, so I had that. And two more espressos. And since I’ve been on the phone with you, I’ve tasted pickling liquid, lamb fat, and two kinds of crostini, and I’ve had a lavender-brittle-and-chocolate cookie. Manfred here called me fat and that’s why I had to let out my girdle. That’s also why you can’t hear me half the time we’re talking. I’m always chewing.

Chefs vs City

July 13, 2009 on 3:41 pm | In Blog, Events, Press | No Comments

I have been getting asked alot of questions recently about Chefs vs City, I cant answer most of them since it won’t make it any fun for people to watch if you already know what happens. All I will tell you is that Aaron is a great partner in crime, we had a ton of fun, went to some great places and met some amazing people along the way. Thanks to everyone who was a part of this show in any way shape or form you are the ones who made it so great.

I hope you are a excited as we are for the premiere on Friday, August 7th at 10pm.

To get more info on when the show please take a look at our site by clicking the food network logo below:

Grub Street magazine Interview

July 13, 2009 on 2:38 pm | In Blog, Offal, Press | 1 Comment

Chris Cosentinos Cookbook Too Scary to Publish

cosentino.jpgJust back from the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival, offal ambassador Chris Cosentino cooked for Taste of the Nation last week, and is about to wrap up shooting on his new Food Network series, Chefs Vs. City. The rest of the time, he’s cooking at his restaurant, Incanto, the only one in the city to serve Certified Humane meats. He took a few minutes to speak with us about making disgusting meats delicious, his admiration for Fergus Henderson, and his new book idea.

Why the obsession with offal?
I don’t know. I’m just a smelly cook, that’s all I am. I’m just a guy who cooks cuts of meat that, for me, are more flavorful. I believe if you’re willing to kill it, you should be willing to eat it.

Fergus Henderson is the grand daddy. The mac daddy. He is, and always will be, the grandfather of the reintroduction of offal in England and the world. When his book The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating came out, we were enamored by that book. Someone had to stand up and do that. And to me that’s a big deal. I look to Fergus a lot for direction, I look to him sometimes when I feel a bit lost. I can reach out to Fergus. He’s become a very good friend

Why do you think people are more comfortable these days with kind of “weird” meats, like marrow or sweetbreads, than they have been in the past?
They’ve always been in high-end restaurants. You’re seeing a trickle-down effect now. In regards to why they’re becoming acceptable, I think it’s a new generation of diners. In World War II, it was the norm. Rationing stamps only got you so much meat. So offal cuts got you more meat for your stamps. We win the war, and now processed foods and canned foods become more available. You start to see a decrease in those meats now that we’re a prosperous nation. My grandmother and my mom won’t eat many of those things.

Now, our generation is more curious, wants to know where it’s from. We’re interested in sustainable living. [But] these foods, these techniques, they’re as old as time. I’m not reinventing the wheel here, I’m digging up the past. That’s all I’m doing. These traditional uses of these meats are everywhere in the world, except in the U.S., where they disappeared.

You’re working on a book?
The title is called “Odd Cuts and Guts: Rediscovering the rest of the animal.” It’s a how-to guide. It will have animal overlays, and I have a lot of little bonus stuff that will come with it. I’ve been working with a lot of people on this for years, but unfortunately U.S. publishing houses are too afraid. People are afraid of what they don’t understand. That’s why I’m trying to get the book published, so they will understand. If people learn how to use these cuts of meat at home, it will be more acceptable. It’s taking away the fear.

Back in March, you wrote on your site Offal Good about pressure you were getting from animal rights activists to stop serving foie gras. You said the confrontation would be “our Alamo.” What’s happened since?
What it ultimately boils down to is, whether I serve what every other place wants to throw in the garbage, whether I serve an animal that just deceased two seconds ago of natural causes, I’m serving meat. I firmly believe that if you’re willing to put down an animal for food, you should be willing to eat every bit of it. And I firmly stand by that belief. And I think we have to take into consideration, where did this animal come from and how was it treated. You can taste the difference. And a happy animal makes happy customers. Not everybody has to choose to eat meat, and that is everybody’s right, but to dictate that I cannot serve things, that’s not right, either.

Who will be in charge of the Incanto kitchen while you’re out filming your new TV show?
I have two great sous-chefs that are here. But I’m not gone that much. I’m only gone for two days a shoot. The more I’m here, the better it is… People come here because they want to see me here. Does the food change? No, not really, cause it’s the same guys cooking all the time. But they have to look at my ugly mug when I am here.

What did you prepare at last week’s Taste of the Nation?
I did a braised beef shank with horseradish crème fraîche and Michael Symon and I shared vegetables. He did a whole roasted fish wrapped in grape leaves, and I did braised artichokes, asparagus, with radishes and minutina (a green I smuggled into the country) and herbs. Just a nice light salad to cut the heavy richness of the beef.

Anything else exciting on the horizon?
I’m doing a demonstration at the national restaurant show in Chicago. I’m deboning a pig’s head and showing them in front of hundreds of people.

Photo courtesy the Food Network

Yum Sugar Interview

July 13, 2009 on 2:32 pm | In Blog, Offal, Press | No Comments

Catching Up With Chris Cosentino

Since he competed in the Next Iron Chef two Summers ago, San Francisco’s acclaimed offal-chef, Chris Cosentino, has been a very busy guy. He’s worked nights at his head-to-tail rustic Italian restaurant, Incanto, opened a salumeria, Boccalone, at the Ferry Building in SF, and filmed a new television show, Chef vs. City, for the Food Network. Last week Chris took some time out of his hectic day-to-day to show me the graffiti-style “Shut Up and Cook” mural in the kitchen and to chat about everything from his 4-year-old son’s eating habits to why he actively tweets. Find out what the chef had to say and read more.

On the Aug. 7 debut of Chef vs. City: It’s very exciting, but it makes you nervous. We’ve already shot the entire show, but I don’t get to see any of the final edits. I am what I am.

On food trends: I don’t think food is trendy at all. I’m not reinventing anything here at Incanto. I’m just reintroducing. It’s a realization of the past. Folks are more connected to where their food comes from. People are more interested in food — they’re sharing with their neighbors, they’re joining meat co-ops. They feel more connected to food because it’s the ethical thing to do, not because it’s trendy. You could say that Korean food is trendy right now, but to me a trend is something that comes, gets really popular, and goes away. Korean food isn’t going to go away. It’s just that more people are aware of Korean food. It’s becoming mainstream, but it’s not a trend. It’s like bacon, people aren’t going to stop eating bacon. Ever.

On his love affair with offal: Working in restaurants you see all the meat come in. Sure, there’s always foie gras and sweetbreads, but when I came to work here [at Incanto] I wanted to cook rustic peasant food and the basis for this type of food is using every piece of meat. Using the whole animal. I’ve started harvesting my own animals and that changes your perspective.

On the one thing he won’t eat: I eat everything. The only item I ever disliked — it turned my stomach — was balut.

On what’s next for Boccalone: We just launched the mortadella hot dog. I like to do a hot dog during baseball season. We already make mortadella, but now we are just packaging it in a different way. I plan to continue rolling with what we are doing. I like to make really good consistent products. This is what we strive to do on a daily basis.

On how the Internet has changed the role of the modern chef: I have a lot of fun with Twitter. It’s only 140 characters, so you really have to think about what you are saying. These sort of things are important because people want to communicate. People want to be in contact with chefs. They want to know how to cook, they want to ask questions. With my website, I try to bridge the gap. It gives me direct contact with the people. The Internet, Twitter, blogs have broken down a barrier. There is more exchanging of information occurring. I try to answer all the emails I get.

On raising a foodie son: My son will eat anything. He’s had tripe, he’s had beef heart tartar. At the Ferry Building last Saturday, he ate a dozen oysters by himself and he’s 4 years old!

Source: Lisa Hamilton

Good Magazine Talks Offal

July 13, 2009 on 11:15 am | In Blog, Offal, Press | No Comments

The Offal Truth

  • Posted by: Adam Starr
  • on July 9, 2009 at 8:00 am

Chris Cosentino is using historical recipes to turn offal—the entrails and organs we usually discard—into a new American delicacy.

If you were cooking 2,000 years ago, you would have to use local, organic, and seasonal ingredients. And, because meat was hard to come by, you would use the entire animal, including the offal (literally “off-fall”)—the entrails and internal organs of your slaughter.

At San Francisco’s Incanto restaurant, chef Chris Cosentino is reviving old recipes that incorporate offal and other “odd cuts.” For reference, feast your eyes on just some of Cosentino’s unconventional ingredients: beef heart, cured tuna heart, lamb kidneys, lamb heart, candied rooster crests, pastramied ox tongue, and lamb spleen.

GOOD chatted with Cosentino to learn about his historical approach to food, what sort of tastes we’re regularly missing out on, and how best to sell pig’s head in America.

GOOD: Why is history so important to your food?

CHRIS COSENTINO: History was the only part of school that I really enjoyed as a kid: history and English literature. I remember the food in The Great Gatsby and in Macbeth. I remember wondering what it was like to be Gatsby living in Newport, Rhode Island, wondering what the oysters tasted like at those parties, thinking about the feasts in Macbeth, about the wine in those goblets. Food is about a shared connection to time and place.

G: And you make a point of using parts of the animal they might have eaten in Macbeth’s time. Should we be less squeamish about these foods now?

CC: People don’t know that things that started out simply as byproducts of food preparation became cooking techniques themselves. Byproducts created braising, created pates, they created things like charcuterie and blood sausage. Look at Europe or Asia; the United States is the only place that doesn’t traditionally eat these things, we are the exception to the norm. Take beef tongue. Beef tongue is huge in Japan; it’s like ten dollars a pound for grass-fed beef tongue. Here in the U.S. it’s four dollars a pound. So do we eat it? No, we export this excellent grass-fed product and we make a lot of money. But who is winning? We win on money and they win on flavor.

G: Is offal a harder sell in America in general?

CC: When thinking about offal you have to think about what I call the culture of texture. In America it’s crispy: we love crunchy and fried foods. In China they love soft and gelatinous foods. Japan likes chewy, the Italians more al dente. Understanding the culture of texture is a big dynamic when I prepare these cuts of meat. Offal isn’t only about the ingredient so much as the texture. Tripe, for example, is much easier to sell when I deep-fry it. If I put “crispy” anything on the menu it sells faster. It’s easy for me to sell crispy pig’s head, it’s not easy for me to move soft pig’s head.

G: People are paying more attention to what they eat these days. Is that helping you find an audience?

All of a sudden we are relearning how to eat. When I was a kid, did I see watermelons in the middle of the grocery store in the winter? Fuck no—it’s the magic of the airplane. Do we really need to put food in a plane and fly it 3,000 miles? I love ramps from the East Coast where I grew up. Sometimes I even get them at the market, but in the West we have nettles, wild onions, chickweed, wood sorrel, miner’s lettuce, and all this beautiful freeway fennel. Every area has something that is available. Eating regionally can be done—we have a rooftop herb garden and we harvest things from upstairs when they are ready to be eaten.

What I really love about the way food is going now is that we’ve had this huge push in both directions. Ferran Adrià has opened up an experimental inventiveness of food. There needs to be people who push forward and others that go backwards. There needs to be more than one style of food, more than one thought process. My process is historical.

G: Do you think offal cooking is more sustainable?

CC: If you buy a radish you eat the greens and the radish. You learn to use the entire thing. We have a tendency to just throw things away. If you’re willing to sacrifice an animal for food than you should be willing to eat the whole thing. If you’ve got bruised strawberries, make fucking jam. It’s not hard, just pay attention, and use all of your resources. Ultimately, what we need to worry about is getting people enough good food to eat. I’ve told kids I’m a chef and had them ask me “McDonald’s, Burger King, or KFC?” That’s fucked up.

G: Seasonal eating is more sustainable, too. Have we forgotten when to eat what?

CC: Find a recipe for the season and maximize what you have when you have it. When the season for a food is upon us, use the whole ingredient. Use all the tomatoes in the summer, use all the squash in fall. Instant noodles have been around longer than international air travel. Everyone wants convenience and ease. There’s nothing wrong with wanting these things, but there’s nothing wrong with working for something either.

Porchetta di Testa photo by Lisa Hamilton; Chris Cosentino photo by Michael Harlan Turkell; Pig’s Head photo courtesy Chris Cosentino; Incanto restaurant photo courtesy Incanto.

Learn more at Offal Good and Boccalone.

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