Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Riley Starks,Willows Inn, Blaine Wetzel

Riley's pig grown up - approx 400 pounds. Photo by Joe Ray, from his blog.

I just got back from meeting Riley Starks in Seattle. We met in a parking lot. He brought the money, I brought the goods - Mangalitsa pork and some belly speck.

I haven't seen him since I delivered a pig up to his place. His business, Willows Inn is doing well. There's been a big change - he's got an incredible resident chef, Blaine Wetzel, former sous chef at Copenhagen's Noma. Noma is one of the best restaurants in the world.

In many great restaurants, it is the sous chefs or the chef de cuisine - not the executive chef - who actually makes the food. That's because the executive chef is normally busy running the business of the kitchen - e.g. finding/buying stuff, managing the schedule, etc. So if nothing else, you know that Blaine Wetzel can cook.

Riley said that after only 3 weeks, it is clear they've got better food than ever before. He's got to do it that way; his place is so remote, you need a reason (e.g. great food) to go there.

I'm happy to sell him Mangalitsa pork. Obviously, if he needs to impress his guests, its the right thing to buy. Typical example - gourmet bratwurst.

I told him he needs to call our mutual friend, Chris Weber (at the Herbfarm), and have Chris explain to him how to make those 2-month hams, because I had some frozen hams for him.

The video shows his pig when she was still young. As the picture at top shows, she's now ridiculously big and fat. That's how they get.

I asked Riley if maybe he'd keep her alive, as a pet and something for his guests to look at, but that's not in the cards. She's going to be food.

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