Offal Good™ » Uncategorized Chef Chris Cosentino's guide to all good guts. Thu, 07 Mar 2013 00:20:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Save The Ocean, Eat A Squid Wed, 08 Jun 2011 03:55:29 +0000 Chris

To start this off, I don’t like going on boats anymore, which is ironic since  I grew up on boats, sailing, fishing  and working lobster boats in New England. About 10 years ago I was in a boating accident that makes me second guess being out there that far on a little boat in the big sea. But this was the opportunity for me to catch the big nasty giant squid, so I was in. What an adventure it was I caught the big one for the day at 75lb and 45 minutes of fighting to bring the squid in I got my monster. Click on the image above to read the story published in Mens Journal this May, and yes I barf!

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Brains & Eggs video Tue, 07 Jun 2011 06:54:09 +0000 Chris My brother in law Michael Hearst and his band One Ring Zero made this great song out of a recipe I make here at the restaurant. Below is the video and song, but you should really check out his website which has all the info on all the chefs who have contributed recipes and interviews for the upcoming book and CD.  Ok, I watched Solid Gold as a kid, but never said I was a professional dancer. That being said you wont see me on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ any time soon. Enjoy the video and song, I had a blast being a part of it.

the recipe project

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Wired Magazine on Food Mon, 06 Jun 2011 03:59:55 +0000 Chris blood sausage, duck egg & oysters

blood sausage, duck egg & oysters

Who would have ever thought I would be published in a tech magazine. But I am not going to complain about it. The folks from Wired came over to Incanto and photoed the whole cooking process of a dish I like to call “chefs last supper” this would be the dish that I would ask for on my death bed.

I like to look at this dish in a connect to the land, sea and air all in one dish with each of their flavor’s coming threw loud and clear.

Click on the image to be taken to the wired website to see the step by step photo process of the dish.

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mike friedman chimes in on his head to tail stage Thu, 05 May 2011 08:22:44 +0000 Chris All I can say is it was our pleasure to have you mike, you are welcome back anytime!!! Read what mike has to say about his experience with us, I was speech less when I got this.  Thank you.

mike plating the lamb kidney course

mike plating the lamb kidney course

As cooks, we are bound to the mundane. It is not so much by choice, but by nature; a sear performed with every order and a brunoise precisely cut before every service. It is within this repetition that lies the keys to our success as cooks – before the art comes the craft.

However, every once in a while we have a definitive moment in our careers. We, as cooks, fervently wait for these opportunities to present themselves – sometimes it blooms from a successful night on the line, or maybe it’s a seasoned chef giving you weathered advice that guides your career down a certain path. Yet, these chances prove difficult to anticipate, nor can they be planned. For this young cook, cooking for a week at Incanto was a crucial moment in my career, and one that will have a lasting impression on the way I cook, think and lead in the kitchen.

If you have a keen eye when you come to Incanto to work, you’ll see it’s not entirely about guts. It’s certainly not about ego or recognition either, even though Chef Cosentino and his stellar crew perform at the highest level every night and have received numerous accolades and nods from every successful chef in the industry. From my experience, the Incanto kitchen revolves around cooking and the thought behind every dish. Why do a venison liver crudo? Because the product is ridiculously fresh, the flavors go perfectly together, and well, nobody else is doing it. Literally – nobody else. Why pair pig snouts with snails and watercress? Well, pigs live on farms, right? And what do farms have? Creeks! And what grows near creeks? Snails and watercress!

To a cook like me – this was mind-blowing. It took the idea of terroir to an entirely different solar system. The once popular term, if it grows together it goes together, immediately shot back into my brain after years of dormancy. At the end of the day, Chef Cosentino’s food tastes fantastic. Some dishes are unctuous and rich, others have layers of flavor to peel back, and all are decidedly delicious. Plus, the food will make you think – maybe not right at the table, but perhaps days after you’ll realize why there’s a lemon fluid gel on the rim of that plate featuring kidneys and asparagus.

Throughout my time at Incanto, I sliced a good amount of beef stomach, braised pigskin, peeled liver, and seared quite a bit of lamb tongue. But like I said, it wasn’t all about the guts, but also about relationships. I became a part of the team at Incanto, and for that I am most grateful. Chef Cosentino has compiled some of the best young cooks I’ve come across, and some of the funniest as well. Their kindness and assistance throughout my time in their kitchen is indicative of the way they work, and the way Incanto operates.

It is a difficult task to calculate the impact of an experience so soon after it occurs. I didn’t want to leave Incanto on my last night cooking. I basically had to be escorted out to change and enjoy the dinner we all had worked so hard on creating. Upon landing in Washington DC, I still yearned to be back in San Francisco and even now I look forward to cooking there again very soon.

As cooks, we are bound to the mundane. But every once in a while, we are reminded why we are in this profession and why we work as hard as we all do. I thank you, Incanto – you and your team have reminded me that I truly love my job.

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Giant Humboldt Squid Mon, 03 Nov 2008 21:43:58 +0000 Chris Having worked with the same fish purveyor for over 10 years they kind of have an idea what I like. So when Chris called me from ports seafood and said he had giant squid from Humboldt averaging 30lb each I jumped at the chance to get them. Once I had this giant squid at the restaurant I was amazed at how big it really is, it really makes me not want to go swimming.  Chris later explained to me that they are caught when there is a current shift and they come up from warmer waters. To keep thing easy on how to cook this giant squid I have included a photo guide.

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Jamies Olivers Fowl Dinners Thu, 30 Oct 2008 03:36:40 +0000 Chris What can I say but Jamie has got a set of brass ones for doing this, and I think its great more power to him for sticking it to the big food companies who want to treat animals like shit. Battery chickens what a fucked up process, what ever happened to coq a vin, now we know you cant get roosters cause they kill them at birth because they don’t produce eggs. I know this is a bit old but I am proud to show this and stand by Jamie and his efforts. Please take the time to watch theses videos there are graphic but very educational. Not only does Jamie slaughter chickens in front of the dinners he shows them the horrors of factory farmed chicken and eggs. Dont be offended remember this was a show on the BBC all over the UK.

Click here to view the embedded video.

To see the rest of the shows read on.

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Click here to view the embedded video.

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The Devil in the Kitchen Thu, 17 May 2007 03:15:14 +0000 Chris On Tuesday May 8th I had the honor to cook for one of the culinary greats Marco Pierre White. He was here to promote his memoirs “The Devil in the kitchen”chris cosentino with marco pierre white

Photo courtesy of Mary Ladd

If You haven’t read the book “The Devil in the Kitchen” its a must read. You can see the essay I wrote for the S.F Chronicle about the book here.

Earlier in the day before the event he stoped by to introduce himself and talk a bit over coffee. It was great to be able to sit and have a drink with a man who has given me so much inspiration and drive. He signed my original copy of White Heat with “Never forget mother nature is the artist, your the cook” what a statement, its good to be reminded of that, it helps put things into prespective. He is a shit load of fun when he gets started, but also a very serious man with alot of knowledge to share. “Forget cooking for the punters! remember you know when its right so keep cooking like that.”

To read someone elses dining experience check out the sfist.
I cannot wait till my next trip to London I will definatly be looking Marco up for a drink and a plate of food.

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Who Are the Modern Offal Eaters? Tue, 20 Mar 2007 06:51:24 +0000 Chris About a month or so I received a email from the UK asking about offal and different resources to help with a paper being written on the decline of offal consumption. I just received the finished paper and have learned quite a bit, and felt that I should share it with you. Remember this paper is written for the decline of offal consumption for the united kingdom, I am sure there are a lot of similarities here in the United States.

Guest Author Nathan Hoskins is 22 years old an studying at the University of West of England, Bristol, UK.

Who Are the Modern Offal Eaters?

As late as 1861 mainstream cookery books such as Mrs Beaton’s Book of Household Management included recipes for a wide range of offal including boiled calves’ heads. Today there is a widespread revulsion for offal particularly amongst Anglo-Celtic cultures and the younger generation. According to the Meat and Livestock Commission in 1977, 105,000 tonnes of organ meat were sold in the UK but by 2002 this had fallen to 19,500 tonnes. Although overall consumption has decreased, these figures do not recognise and account for the place of offal in contemporary food culture. This investigation will argue that through a combination of squeamishness and the perceived low culinary status of organ meats the modern offal eater is no longer the home cook nor the working classes but the affluent restaurant diner who seeks culinary differentiation and gastronomic adventure. These developments highlight interesting sociological trends.

According to the view of Beardsworth and Keil, in mainstream contemporary British food culture offal is generally regarded as cheap, low status and not particularly palatable. There has been a long association between offal and the underprivileged going back to a time when organ meats from newly slaughtered animals were given to the poor. The reason being that unlike carcass meat offal cannot be kept long and must be eaten quickly. Anissa Helou further accounts for this trend as a result of wartime rationing. Offal was one of the few forms of meat that was readily available during the Second World War and this association with hard times explains why British cooks have turned away from it in favour of the now more readily available higher status meats. Britain today is more affluent which allows people to spend more on food resulting in higher spending on more expensive items. This is one explanation for the fall in offal consumption.

Squeamishness is another factor which accounts for the unpopularity of offal with the mainstream cook. Through his research the Belgian sociologist Leo Moulin ranked feelings about offal in ascending order of repulsiveness running through from liver through kidneys, tongue, sweetbreads, brains and tripe to testicles and eyes. In interviews carried out by Lupton the reasons given for not eating offal were due to a number of factors: texture, taste, smell, appearance and the fact that offal was the ‘innards’ of an animal. According to Lupton the extent to which an organ is internal and is therefore unseen and unidentifiable is a factor in this distaste. Liver and kidneys are further down the revulsion list because they are internal whereas eyes and testicles are much higher up the list. The very names of offal display their animal origins as being not far removed from humans: heart, lungs, liver and kidney etc. This is compared to the euphemisms given to conventional meat such as pork, beef and lamb. Stephen Mennel attributes people’s increasing ability and tendency to identify themselves with animals to help explain the revulsion at eating brains, eyes and testicles. This revulsion can however be overcome when fashions dictate as in eighteenth century France when social pressure for fashionable tables resulted in a catholic range of dishes. Noelie Vialles identifies two interesting logics in regards to the consumption of meat: ‘zoophagan’ logic is favoured by those who like to acknowledge that what they are eating was a living and breathing entity and who therefore have no qualms about eating offal. A ‘sarcophagan’ logic is held by those prefer their meat to be abstract, divorced from its living origins and who therefore find consuming offal repugnant.

So far this investigation has accounted for the unpopularity of offal with the mainstream British consumer. Conversely there has been something of an offal boom in British restaurants in recent years exemplified by London’s St John Restaurant which regularly serves dishes such as bone marrow salad and crispy pigs’ tails. In the view of Jeremy Strong the very foods that Pierre Bourdieu associated with the working classes as signifying the values of ‘salty-fatty-heavy-strong-simmered-cheap-nourishing’ have enjoyed a surge in popularity amongst middle class British and American restaurant diners, with offal being a case in point. There are several factors influencing this trend. Strong argues that the consumption of offal has become largely the preserve of an affluent culinary ‘cognoscenti’ whose cooking and eating habits are significantly influenced by what they see and read. He contends that TV cooks such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who constantly espouse the thrifty virtues of organ meats are not appealing to the working classes but to middle class diners seeking to differentiate themselves through what they eat. The least prosperous in our society who are the stereotypical consumers of offal are in fact the least likely to be enjoying ‘nose to tail’ cuisine. It has of course always been a very middle-class characteristic to attempt to individualise oneself through food.

Susan Terrio criticises Bourdieu’s treatment of consumption and taste as ‘largely arbitrary and static’. He is charged with failure to recognise the role of cultural taste- makers who influence culinary fashions, exemplified by the fashionable status of offal amongst some gourmets. This is in contrast to Beardsworth and Keil’s acknowledgement that eating patterns related to social class are not static and change over time. Cultural processes drive social classes to develop new tastes and preferences in order to maintain their distinctiveness. Bourdieu’s conclusion that the tastes of the professionals and senior executives leans towards ‘the light, the refined and the delicate’ which differs to the working classes who choose ‘heavy, the fat and the coarse’ appears outmoded when considering the example of offal. He does however cite the teaching profession as being a segment of society rich in cultural rather than economic capital who favour originality and the exotic at the lowest possible cost, which offal now exemplifies. Although the rise in restaurant consumption of offal clearly cannot be solely attributed to teachers it appears that this search for novelty in food is spreading to other segments of contemporary food culture.

Lupton argues that offal is now considered so unusual that in the context of a modern abundance of food it represents a new culinary experience and a means of improving oneself by adding value and a sense of excitement to life. Pasi Falk contends that those who are willing to experiment and are more adventurous in tasting new foods are often considered to be more sophisticated than those who hold many culinary prejudices. The true gourmands are those who are willing to try and taste new foods in the search of innovation. Lupton cites the example of an Australian chef who designed a menu for the Third Australian Gastronomic Symposium consisting mainly of offal but cooked to the highest level of gastronomic elegance e.g. poached lamb’s brains with lemon and tangerine marigolds. For many this menu would inspire revulsion but because it was in the context of a Gastronomic Symposium and the food was prepared for expert chefs, the menu presented a challenge for gourmands to demonstrate their ‘savoir faire’ in relation to their willingness to taste and enjoy unusual dishes. This shows that the potentially repellent nature of a dish will often attract people who consider themselves more adventurous. There are those who are more likely to eat a dish for the status it brings, suggesting a machismo of eating, particularly amongst men. This is a reverse of food snobbery in which the more repulsive the food, the more credit it given for eating such a gastronomically challenging dish. For Lupton this ability to eat foods such as offal represents the ultimate in self-control and demonstrates a healthy contempt for accepted norms and mastery over one’s instinctive prejudices. This approach to food is strongly associated with the professional middle-classes. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the most high profile champion of offal backs this up: “Like those who profess a love for well-hung (or over-hung) game, the offal lover often can’t resist allowing his (or occasionally her) passion to slide into a kind of competitive macho posturing, as in, ‘what’s the weirdest bit of an animal you’ve ever eaten?’”

For the restaurant gourmet offal does not only represent adventure but it has become a means to attain culinary distinction; for the message is that now foreign food in Britain has become the norm and is too common. Choosing offal in a restaurant can be explained by a nostalgic pining for traditional British fare as our food culture is seemingly being taken over by a global cuisine. This corresponds with the middle classes who, with increasing time and wealth, question the origins of their food. This informed approach particularly to meat eating can create a feeling of superiority over those who react with revulsion at offal and the origins of their food. For the modern offal eater their knowledge of organ meats signifies a participation in a distinct culture of food awareness. With majority tastes’ leaning towards convenience and away from the origins of their food offal has acquired a new potential to signify distinction. For Strong: “the new offal eaters can be interpreted as an outcome at the margins, a by-product of a distinction-seeking culture in which fashions are prompted and impelled by trendsetters who revisit, modify, and commodify the tastes and practises of other times and places.”

In conclusion, through a combination of squeamishness and the perceived low status of organ meats, offal eating is no longer the preserve of the traditional stereotypes: the working classes and the home cook. Through a combination of cultural processes and the influence of taste-makers, the modern offal eaters are restaurant diners and gourmets who seek gastronomic adventure and culinary distinction. In the words of Anthony Bourdain: “…I suggest throwing a big, rowdy party, getting your guests all liquored up, and, when they finally start complaining, “Where’s the guacamole and ramaki?” haul out a big, beautiful tub of steaming hot guts. Those who don’t run screaming from the room……might well have a revelatory experience”.


Ashley, B., Hollows, J., Jones, S. and Taylor, B., 2004. Food Cultural-Studies – Three Paradigms in Food and Cultural Studies. London: Routledge.

Beardsworth, A & Keil, T., 1997. Sociology on the Menu. Oxon: Routledge.

Bourdain, A., 2004. Les Halles Cookbook. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Bourdieu, P,. 1984. Distinction – A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Padstow: Routledge.

Carter, H., 2003. How animal insides became a gastronomic outsider. The Guardian. Available from:,2763,1112499,00.html Accessed [2 February 2007].

Fearnley-Whittingstall, H., 2003. The way to a man’s heart is through his kidneys. The Observer Food Monthly. Available from: monthly/story/0,,1098763,00.html [Accessed 2 February 2007].

Lupton, D,. 1996. Tastes and Distastes in Food, the Body and the Self. London: Sage.

Mennell, S,. 1996. Food Dislikes in All Manners of Food – Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present. USA: Basil Blackwell.

Strong, J., 2006. Modern Offal Eaters. Gastronomica. 6 (2), pp30-39.

Williams, Z,. 2005. The Offal Truth. The Guardian. Available from:,3604,1470243,00.html Accessed: [2 February 2007].

Further Reading

Davidson, A., 2002. Offal in The Penguin Companion to Food. USA: Penguin Books.

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Stop Cloned Meat Sun, 31 Dec 2006 18:22:13 +0000 Chris The FDA has approved cloned meat and milk with no special labeling. This will give a whole new meaning to “molecular gastronomy.” As if factory farming isn’t bad enough we are now just going to make animals in a labratory to factory farm them. And if the FDA does as planned, this meat will sit in the cooler next to all the other meat and you will not know the difference. This is frankenfoods at its best. They don’t know what affects it can have on people in the long run either. Is this where you want your meat to come from?
meat cloning
The final decision will be made in a couple of months and the FDA is currently accepting comments from the public. Go now and tell them what you think about cloned meat. Go to the FDA website or mail comments to:
Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD, 20852. Comments must be received by Apr. 2, 2007 and should include the docket number 2003N-057

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