Offal Good™ » Restaurants Chef Chris Cosentino's guide to all good guts. Thu, 07 Mar 2013 00:20:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Do you have the guts 2.0 WINNERS Wed, 03 Mar 2010 04:44:53 +0000 Chris Click here to view the embedded video.

After recieving 50 applicants from all over the US and Canada I have made my final decisions on the 2 stages for this years head to tail dinner at Incanto. This was not an easy decision since there were so many great applicants with great essays and resumes. But there can only be 2 people there is only so much room in our kitchen. Thank you all for your interest in being a part of this annual event just because you didnt get it this time dosent mean you wont get it next year.

Below are the winners names and essays:

Michael Hudman chef/partner of Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis Tennessee

Hello Chef, my name is Michael Hudman, chef and  co-owner of Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis, TN.  I could tell you all about me and where I have worked in the past, but the main thing is I am very passionate about food and especially about nose to tail.  Two years ago I opened my  restaurant with my long time friend and business partner.  We concentrate on bringing the best product we can to our customers.  We are constantly trying to learn more and more everyday.  When I first came across the offal good web site, it blew me away.  There are not many restaurants or books that work offal ingredients or techniques.  We have done a lot of trial and ERROR with offal, your web site has helped us improve. Last year we closed the restaurant down for a week and made a trip out to San Francisco and Napa.  We ate at Incanto twice, the second time we did the Il Quinto Quarto menu and the dinner just stuck with me. (You even waited on a taxi cab for an hour with us, Thanks) It reminded me of the food my grandmother told me about as a kid and the food that we experienced in Italy while in school. At my restaurant we do a Nose to Tail dinner all with Newman Farm pork .  We love pork and  use it as much as we can, we are working on our charcuterie every day. Speaking of, I saw that y’all are making nduja, we  have not had that since we were in Calabria. We are excited about tasting it next time we are in California.  You have definitely inspired me to use more offal and push myself as a cook. It would be an honor to learn from you, thank you for your time and I hope to be able to help you and your staff on this year Nose to Tail dinner.

Jonah Resnick  a line cook from Blackbird in Chicago

Cooking and working in a kitchen is a non-stop opportunity to learn and improve techniques on a daily basis. To have the chance to work in your kitchen for a week prepping and cooking the Head to Tail dinner would be one of those times where learning new techniques from you and your crew would be an honor. Eating and cooking offal and whole animal butchery is a passion of mine that I look to improve and get inspired by new ideas whenever the opportunity presents itself through other chefs, books, recipes, and blogs. I have worked in well-respected kitchens in both New York and Chicago so working long hours in the kitchen is nothing new for me. You would not have to be concerned with “baby sitting” me during the week. I would love the opportunity to do whatever was needed of me just keeping my eyes open learning the way you execute the Head to Tail dinner from start to finish. I currently work at Blackbird in Chicago where we focus on locally sourced produce and meats and turning them into upscale dishes. I have been there for a year and a half and have worked my way through all of the stations and continue to improve, learn, and help with menu development. Working for Paul Kahan and Chef de Cuisine Mike Sheerin has had a profound impact on me as a cook, as well as a chef, and I will carry the techniques, ideas, and philosophies on food with me for the duration of my career. However, I believe that traveling, eating, and experiencing other parts of the country and world is an invaluable part of becoming a well-rounded chef and cook. I was lucky enough to travel to San Francisco over the summer and experience the local food culture all over the Bay Area. I was blown away by places like the Ferry Building and the farmers market there, the produce, meat, and seafood available in one place blew my mind. While I was visiting the Bay Area I was lucky enough to eat dinner at Incanto and actually speak to you while eating at the bar. I had a wonderful meal there and really loved what you and your cooks were doing with food. Once I read that there was a chance to come there and cook the Head to Tail dinner I immediately jumped at the opportunity. That being said, please consider me for one of the two available positions to stage during the Head to Tail dinner. You will not be disappointed by my dedication and ability in the kitchen.

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Incanto 2.0 Fri, 12 Feb 2010 22:52:29 +0000 Chris It seems like just yesterday that I started here at Incanto, but 7 years later it’s time for some change. No, I am not leaving. Mark and I decided it was time to refresh the dining room. The goal with everything in life is to improve and that is what we are always striving to do here. We have added some beautiful images on the wall from Lisa Hamilton, a banquette along the Duncan street wall, replaced the carpet with a poured floor and added a large communal dinning table that seats 18.  That is just the beginning of the changes. The “Odds and Ends” board and my 10 point buck have also entered the fold. Here are a few images to give you a taste of Incanto 2.0. I look forward to seeing you here soon, I hope you like the redo as much as I do.

DSCN1757 DSCN1755 DSCN1753 DSCN1758 DSCN1747 DSCN1750 DSCN1754 DSCN1751

After the break there is a “Letter from Incanto” explaining a little bit more about the changes from my buisness partner Mark Pastore.

A leg up A new decade at Incanto

By mark Pastore

About an hour ago we opened the doors for dinner service.  Just as we have for virtually every other non-Tuesday night for the past eight years.  But tonight is different. I’m especially excited about opening our doors tonight.  I thought you might like to know why.

We’ve entered a new year; a new decade.  With the passage of time, we’ve learned a great deal about ourselves: our perfections and imperfections, what inspires us, and what we want to be when we grow up. Now seemed as good a time as any to refresh Incanto’s physical space, refocus our energies on what we love most, and – hopefully – to refine our craft.

I’ve been meaning to write to you every day for the past week to share this exciting news. But for the past week has been chock-full of contractors, hard work, and very early days, as we were laboring to bring to you the new Incanto 2010. Every night, by the time I sat down to draft something, it was midnight or 1:00 a.m. and I hadn’t yet eaten dinner. Somehow, I kept falling asleep at the page.

So without further ado, here’s what’s new:

The Dining Room

You’ll notice some significant changes to the main dining room when you next visit, which we made with the generous assistance of our friends Jack Verdon and Peter Jenny atVerdon Jenny Architects. Our carpet had worn out (again) and so we have put down a new floor. It’s sleek and new and very hip. Made by craftsmen from right here in Noe Valley. Brown is the new black.

The brocaded drapes have come down. In their place are some fantastic photos, very large, very colorful (see above for one) taken by our good friend Lisa Hamilton.  As a bonus, the new photos hide heavy-duty acoustic panels to further dampen the noise of a busy dining room.  We’ve also hidden a few more panels around the dining room to help take the din out of dinner. If you’re curious, ask us and we’ll be happy to point them out. They’re pretty well hidden.

Our beautiful American cherry tabletops were starting to show some signs of wear, tear, and occasional knife-sawing along the edge.  We’ve refinished them with a matte finish and they look gorgeous.

Last, we’ve slightly reconfigured the layout of the dining room, including a modern walnut-and-leather banquette along the north wall of the dining room.  You’ll have to drop in to see exactly how it all comes together.

Shared Dining

One of the things we love to do is to provide you with a shared dining experience. Incanto 2010 nudges you more in this direction in several ways:  In addition to our ever-popular Whole Pig Dining and Leg of Beast Dining, we’ve added a new shared entrée: Ham in Hay. This is a whole ham, roasted in a crust of salt and fresh alfalfa hay, meant to be shared among eight to ten people. Please visit Information for more details about booking one of these dinners.

You’ll find more opportunities for sharing on our regular menu as well: the Boccalone antipasto platter is now offered in three sizes for any occasion: Piglet (for one), Sow (for two), and Boar (for three or four persons).  All of our pastas and risotti are now available in small and entrée sizes, also perfect for sharing in a multi-course dinner.

We’ve added two new tables in our front dining room that are perfect for a party of 8-10 persons to share one of our Legs (beef or pork). On those occasions when we don’t have these tables reserved for a large group, they will serve as a communal table, at which you will break bread shoulder-to-shoulder with your neighbors. Many of my fondest Italian dining memories took place at just such a table. We wanted to offer you the opportunity to create your own memories, in which dining can bring some unexpected and wonderful surprises.

Odds and Ends

New in the wine bar is a reclaimed slate chalkboard for “Odds & Ends”. For those of you who like to sit at the counter, you’ll have a front-row access to those dishes that, typically for availability reasons, don’t make it onto Incanto’s printed menu. We might only have three orders of something, so up it goes on the chalkboard.  Order it while it’s still there.  Tonight, for example we have “Head & Shoulders” and “Chilli & Bones”.

While we’re in the wine bar, we should also mention that we have also refined and extended Incanto’s beverage program.  In keeping with Incanto’s mission of showcasing the best in high-quality Italian wines across Italy, we have introduced a new featured bottle program that will enable us to delve more deeply into some of the hidden corners of Italy’s expansive wine-producing regions.  Our bound bottle list will continue to present the classics from Rome to points North.  The “Featured Bottle” list will be accessible – printed alongside the wines by the glass, not in the leather-bound list – and will showcase a group of wines centered around a particular region or related theme.  This abbreviated list will change every four to six weeks, while the bound list will change less frequently.

We are also pleased to open a window upon another current trend in Italy: artisan beermaking.  In the past few years, the quality of beermaking in Italy has risen to a world-class level. Like Italian wines, these beers go great with food.  Definitely worth a try.

The most important refinements may actually reside in the smallest details, which I haven’t mentioned here.  It’s time for me to head down to the dining room – and perhaps it’s best that you discover them for yourselves. Suffice to say that for the past few years, we’ve been listening to you, saving up ideas, and preparing for this moment. We hope you like the new Incanto and we hope to see you soon. Wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2010, from all of us at Incanto.

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Iron Chef Menu at Incanto Tue, 11 Nov 2008 03:01:54 +0000 Chris

For those of you who want a taste of the Halloween Iron Chef America Battle Offal, well here it is. Take a look at Incanto to get all the answers on the what, when, where and hows. This is only available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, since I will be cooking this menu by myself in the back kitchen.

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Cooking at Sebo's Tuna Dinner Wed, 16 Jul 2008 05:59:25 +0000 Chris

This was a great night of sake and tuna had by all 15 who attended, especially me because I chose to do this dinner on my birthday. The most amazing part about this dinner was the Kindai Tuna and how special it is, a true sustainable bluefin tuna. I never knew about this until the first discussions of cooking this dinner, absolutely great fish. I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with Michael and Danny I learned more about tuna in one night from them, then years in kitchens. How to cut it properly, age the fish and treat it in the Japanese style. I look forward to cooking with them again in the future, whats the next fish guys.

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Forbes Traveler on offal Thu, 15 May 2008 04:58:45 +0000 Chris Forbes traveler wrote a piece called:

Deluxe Nose-to-Tail Meals

Joshua M. Bernstein 2008-05-12 11:30:52.0

© Heath Robbins Photography

Offal-y good ox hearts, lamb spleen and more

Colin Alevras, chef at New York City’s Tasting Room, recently unveiled a luxury burger that blew diners’ minds. While the $23 price tag is chump change compared to the $75 foie gras-stuffed, black-truffle-topped burger at NYC’s DB Bistro Moderne, what sets Alevras’ meaty masterpiece apart is not decadent toppings but the meat itself.

The Old MacDonald burger, as Alevras dubs it, blends a grass-fed cow’s heart, liver, bone marrow, tongue, flatiron, brisket, shank and clod. It’s topped with raw cow’s-milk cheese and “mushroom ketchup,” and it’s served on a beer-bread bun. Fries are, incidentally, extra.

“I haven’t seen anybody reconsider the burger from the cow up. We don’t hide behind its casualness. We are remaking the world’s most overlooked food,” the chef recently told’s food blog, Grub Street.

Is Alevras’ creative hamburger a weirdo anomaly? No way. Nowadays, chefs are branching out beyond meaty ribs or tender filet mignon to embrace a nose-to-tail eating ethos.

“If you’re going to kill the animal, it seems only polite to use the whole thing,” British chef Fergus Henderson famously wrote in his book “The Whole Beast,” which touted the tastiness of tripe, trotters and internal organs. While many diners prefer to forget their flank steak was carved from a mooing creature, high-end dining now features a new face. Plus some hearts. And, occasionally, intestines.

“Organ meats don’t have to mean Mom’s overcooked liver,” explains Andy Nusser, head chef at New York City’s Casa Mono. The tapas-style small-plates eatery, which is owned partly by Mario Batali, offers unusual cutssuch as lamb’s tongue, duck hearts and cock’s combs. The latter is the fleshy red cap atop a rooster’s head; at Casa Mono, it’s simmered with red wine and porcini mushrooms until fork-tender.

“We’re returning to using the whole animal,” says Nusser, who has taken to sourcing entire organic pigs. “You’re not just picking up a phone and ordering parts. This makes you want to use every last bit. You don’t want to throw anything out.”

Especially not the noggin. “I really enjoy cooking a pig head,” Nusser says. “I like slowly simmering it and pulling the meat off the head, then taking the liquid it was cooked in and turning it into gelatin. It’s a journey to look at an ugly pig’s head and turn it into a beautiful terrine.”

Nusser’s adoration of long-overlooked animal parts has company. At Portland’s Le Pigeon, diners can opt for “foot and tail” croquettes or duck-duck-pigeon—roast squab with duck confit salad and duck-liver vinaigrette. Boston’s KO Prime slings sautéed calves brains and bone marrow with oxtail marmalade. Philadelphia’s Ansell Food + Wine fashions a fine, crispy lamb’s tongue served with mint.

But perhaps America’s most adventurous nose-to-tail restaurant is San Francisco’s rustic-Italian Incanto. On offer are lamb’s necks, pig trotters and a five-course nose-to-tail tasting menu perhaps including venison kidneys and chocolate-blood panna cotta. For executive chef Chris Cosentino (who also runs, it’s not about Fear Factor-style extreme eating. “It’s about viable cuts of meat that we have thrown into the trashcan for years. There’s been lots of talk about sustainable eating, and offal is sustainable eating. If you buy leeks, do you just throw away the tops? Or do you use them to make broth? When it comes to food, we’re very wasteful.”

Historically speaking, America wasn’t always so wasteful. During World War II, thrifty cooks stretched their ration stamps by buying cuts of tongue. In the South, pig’s hooves, fried pork skin and chitterlings (a fancy word for pig intestines) have long been integral to Mason-Dixon Line cuisine.

“We’ve gone away from our history,” Cosentino says. “Years ago, a slaughter was a neighborhood affair. One guy would come around and slaughter one or two pigs, then someone would make blood sausage. And the casing was made from the pig’s intestines. People always ask me, ‘Why do you serve poor people’s food?’ That’s really disrespectful to the animal.”

For squeamish eaters, Cosentino suggests a “gateway” meat: beef hearts. “It’s a muscle, not a filter”—like liver or kidneys—“so it’s very rich and has lots of minerals. It changes people’s perceptions.”

Harder to alter are USDA guidelines. The government bans numerous victuals like lungs that Cosentino would love to toss into a skillet. “Cow’s udder is absolutely deliciousit’s a shame I can’t serve it,” he says. “Flavor-wise, it’s a mammary gland, so it’s very rich and fatty.”

Such is the crux of whole-animal eating: Creating luxury where it’s least expected. For this reason, “cooking nose to tail isn’t a fad; it’s never going to go away,” says Casa Mono’s Nusser. “The bottom line is that people that are trying hearts and organs are surprised to find that they’re delicious. Anyone can cook it. To cook a pig’s head, you just need a big pot. Just go to a butcher and ask them to split the pig head in half, then you’re halfway there.”

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Proper Turkey Slaughter Mon, 19 Nov 2007 06:43:33 +0000 Chris heirloom turkey

In preparation for Thanksgiving this coming Thursday my friend Jonnatan Levia and I spent our Sunday morning up in Sebasatapol helping slaughter heirloom breed turkeys with the 4-h kids and my good friend Jim Reichardt of liberty ducks.

The process was very simple each bird was brought over by its owner so it stayed calm, it was placed upside down in a cone to hold it. Once the incision was made the turkey bleed out in a few minutes, then it was tumbled in hot water to make the feathers easy to remove. The birds were hung by there feet and everyone helped pull feathers then over to the eviscerating table. The liver, heart and giblets were separated, as well as the testicles and pre eggs. Then the bird had its crop and intestines discarded then it was rinsed and deep chilled. All a very quick and amazing process I was glad to be a part of this.
Each family that raised these birds were there helping with the processing of the birds, making sure they were handled with care and tagged for their buyers from the slow food auction. It was an amazing experience to be there with families most non food professionals each person with a specific task in getting these birds clean and chilled asap. These birds were beautiful in so many ways, they were massive birds each with different plumage and colored feet, all unique breads from around the country. When it was all said and done there was about 60 birds prepared for the holiday. I can say I will be very thankful for my thanksgiving turkey this year since I picked him, then took him to the table start to finish. Thanks Jim for having me there it was a great learning experience.

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Blood, Sweat and Tripe!! Thu, 02 Aug 2007 02:48:21 +0000 Chris Thanks to the brilliant photography of Michael Harlan Turkell, I have the ability to show you this photo essay of Incanto’s 4th annual head to tail event.

Hungry Magazine has posted a video essay and photo journal of the evening from the kitchen prospective. Take a look at the video below or at You can also check out the photo journal. Enjoy the video its a nice show of what the kitchen was like that day. And for those of you who joined us that evening thank you and I cant wait until next year.

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15 Green Chefs around the world Sun, 29 Jul 2007 17:43:08 +0000 Chris I feel honored to be on this list with the likes of Fergus Henderson and Dan Barber who push the limits every day. These are some amazing chefs who put their necks on the line to do the right thing and I am pround to be among them. Congratulations to all the other chefs who have been bestowed this honor. View the link and read all about some of the greenest chefs in the world. But keep in mind, this list just scratches the surface of all the chefs who are working hard to make things right in the food world.
Grist, 15 green chefs

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Bon Appetit’s hottest dining trends of the year Wed, 10 Jan 2007 00:31:25 +0000 Chris San Francisco
You can vicariously experience the head-to-tail cooking of chef Chris Cosentino on his Web site, Better yet, you can visit Incanto for a taste of his “fifth quarter” specialties like pig’s trotter cake and salt-cured pork liver. (1550 Church Street; 415-641-4500) ”

Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appétit, January 2007

The Restaurant Reporter:
Special Edition:
From coast to coast, the hottest dining trends of the year

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