When I meet people who really serious about Mangalitsa, I encourage them to travel and learn more from Christoph and Isabell Wiesner.*
I hadn't thought much about it until tonight, but I've done it consistently for years. I think it has helped Mangalitsa culture to spread quickly in the USA; as a result of this, we've got a lot of people across the USA excited about Mangalitsa pigs and pork. Soon we'll have people in Asia excited about Mangalitsa pork.
Without the Wiesners, we just wouldn't be where we are right now.
Many of the people involved are ridiculously capable and diligent. They are naturally attracted to Mangalitsa pigs, because they taste the best. I can't claim responsibility for their accomplishments.
My role has been to bring people with common interests together.
A Mangalitsa fan visits ground zero.
It started with a class at the Herbfarm taught by the Wiesners. I helped to fill the class with a number of people, many of whom now in the Mangalitsa business. They are all customers: Michael Clampffer, Shane Petersen and Marie Nguyen and Mark Baker.
One of the students, David Pearlstein, doesn't own Mangalitsa pigs, but he has built a USDA-inspected meat processing facility in his Seattle basement, which is amazing.**
I was also instrumental in getting Michael Clampffer and Carolyn Banfalvi to visit Austria in 2008. I helped Mangalitsa Chef (aka Bryce Lamb) to visit Austria in 2009.
Those were the first three Americans I convinced to visit Austria on Mangalitsa business.
Michael and Bryce visited the Wiesner's farm, Wischathal, in Göllersdorf. Bryce was lucky enough to live with them for six weeks. He cooked several meals a day for them - but in return, he got to go out with them and kill pigs and learn everything he could about processing them, from the Wiesners and their instructor, Metzgermeister Kropf. That's why I - and the Wiesners - bestow the title Mangalitsa Chef on him.
Things really started to snowball due to Mosefund. Michael Clampffer organized several Mangalitsa slaughter and processing events in 2010, taught by the Wiesners. They were incredible events.
I told many people about those events, so I'm a bit hazy about who exactly I convinced to attend; of course Michael Clampffer got a bunch of people to attend. Some impressive attendees include:
- High-end meat processors Rey Knight (Knight Salumi), Rufus Brown (Johnston County Hams) and Oliviero Colmignoli (OLLI Salumeria Americana).
- Seattle customer Philip Vogelzang (he's gone on to improve his community by building a slaughterhouse), along with the Eadses (inventors of my favorite cooking tool).
- Morgan Weber, who brought a posse of Houston chefs with him. They all went on to do a lot of great work with Mangalitsa. Morgan Weber breeds Mangalitsa pigs now, and is opening a market with Ryan Pera, one of the attendees of Mosefund's event.
- Thomas Schneller, CIA meat expert and Mangalitsa fan. He teaches American chefs how to butcher meat. He wrote the textbook.
I told everyone I could about those events because I knew they'd be awesome. How else could you learn how to slaughter and process the world's best pigs from some of the nicest and most skilled people ever?
Recently, a regular customer, who really loves Mangalitsa told me he was visiting Austria. I said he had to visit the Wiesners. They were happy to have him. They must have just killed some pigs, because they were able to show him how to render lard and make crepinettes. He got to see their pigs and take some photos, some of which I've duplicated in this post.
Looking at his photos, I really wish I could go to the Wiesner's farm. I've often thought that if I had a lot of time to decompress, I'd go to Austria and live on the Wiesner farm, and learn how to raise and process pigs. It would be ridiculously fun.
* If people just want to learn how to cut pigs up, and can't make it to Austria, I encourage them to visit our slaughterhouse in Swiss, MO.
** David deserves to be on the Food Channel for getting a facility built in his house's basement and for getting it a grant of inspection from the USDA. It is just a regular house in Wallingford, a Seattle neighborhood.