The crowds descended on Randall’s Island in New York City Saturday, Sept. 8, for the ninth annual Meatopia, but unfortunately so did the rain. Despite the weather troubles, Josh Ozersky’s meat bonanza soldiered on, determined to stuff everyone full of meat until they couldn’t possibly eat more.
Meatopia is billed as the "Woodstock of Edible Animals," and for meat lovers and the chef-obsessed there really isn’t anywhere better to get up close and personal. The event featured almost 40 different meat stations, divided into "neighborhoods" representing different genres, such as Carcass Hill, Offalwood, and Beaktown. The dishes ranged from a taste of Pat LaFrieda’s 1,000-pound steer to Jonathon Sawyer of Cleveland’s Greenhouse Tavern's scrambled brains and eggs.
In a sea of meat there were certainly highlights: Iron Chef Marc Forgione served grilled rib steak with bone marrow maître 'd butter, and the meat came off chops so big and juicy that enthusiasts surrounding his tent were ravenously gnawing on the bones.
Seemingly having the most fun while representing some of the best cooking in the South was "The Fatback Collective," featuring chefs such as Sean Brock of McCrady’s and Husk in Charleston, S.C., Nick Pihakis of Jim 'N Nick’s in Birmingham, Ala., and Stephen Stryjewski of Cochon in New Orleans. It was definitely a treat to eat a well-cooked Southern boudin in the middle of New York.
And to add a bit of competition to the mix, Whole Foods sponsored a contest that was the culmination of a nationwide search for the company’s best butcher. Armand "The Arm" Ferrante of Middletown, N.J., won, which was quite lucky considering he had brought a horde of more than 20 people in matching shirts to cheer him on. The New Jerseyans certainly added a level of excitement to the air that couldn’t be dampened no matter how much rain forced people to retreat into tents.
Aside from the unavoidable rain delays, Meatopia certainly stood out among a sea of food events that descended on New York this summer. Its purpose was clear: the chefs were having fun, the lines were short at all but a few stalls, and the beer was flowing. The inevitable meat coma that followed was just the price we all paid for going.