Kevin Gillespie shares his love of pork

Kevin GillespieIf you are a fan of Top Chef, you probably remember Kevin Gillespie, known for his love of pork. He literally wears it on his sleeve with his forearm tattoo. His first book, Fire in My Belly, was a James Beard Award finalist. Kevin has again teamed up with co-author David Joachim and shares his unbounded passion for pork in a book devoted entirely to the subject, Pure Pork Awesomeness. You can see Kevin’s book tour dates in our Events Calendar and enter our contest for your chance to win one of five copies of the book. We asked him about his latest ode to the pig:

Do you believe that most dishes can be improved with some added pork? 

Well, I don’t think you should add things to recipes – you could throw them off balance. But I do love pork recipes!

Which recipes will purchasers of your book be most surprised to find in a pork book?

They might assume that the recipes are highly American but will be surprised at how much international cuisine is in there – recipes from Korea, India, Vietnam.

What are the differences you detect between supermarket pork and pork from heritage breeds?

The differences all boil down to the economy of the supermarket. Heritage pigs take a lot longer to grow and therefore have a lot more flavor and intramuscular fat. Supermarkets just can’t invest that kind of time and money and must sell pork that takes less time.

How much pork do you cook each week at your restaurant and BBQ catering business and how many farmers keep you supplied?

We purchase mostly from one farm. They scaled up as we did. We probably cook about 10 whole hogs a week.

I know you love pork in every form but do you have one favorite way to cook it?

Definitely traditional bbq is my favorite way to cook pork.

Were there any pork dishes you cook at the restaurant that you decided were too complicated or time-consuming for the home cook?

Yes, there were tons that did not make the cut. This book only has one restaurant recipe and it’s probably the most challenging recipe in the book. Most restaurant recipes are not practical for the home cook – they take too much time and use hard-to-find ingredients. This book is for home cooks.

Do you cook nose-to-tail at your restaurant? What less well-known cuts have you included in the book?

Yes, absolutely we cook nose-to-tail at Gunshow. Some of the lesser-known cuts in the book include fresh ham, jowls, and trotters.

Americans in general are more scared of offal than Europeans. What dishes do you make to try to tempt them to try delicious pig-parts such as liver and kidneys?

It’s challenging to convince someone to eat a dish that has something unusual in it. I’m most successful when I give them a dish they’ve never heard of, something different than American cuisine. It’s easier if the whole dish is new to them rather than just one ingredient.

Over the last 40 years in the USA beef consumption has dropped, chicken consumption has doubled and pork consumption has been fairly static. Why do you think chicken is more popular than pork (maybe your book will change that)?

Chicken is inexpensive and flexible. It also doesn’t bring much to the table. Pork is just as versatile but quality pork really brings flavor to the finished product.

Photo by Valerie Combs

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