Comstock's magazine 0818-August 2018 - Page 34

n TASTE GUTS AND GLORY Demand for locally and responsibly sourced food has helped revive the butcher shop BY Daniel Barnes PHOTOS: Fred Greaves D Paul Carras (left) and Danny Johnson (right), of Taylor’s Market, were part of the six-person American team in the 2018 World Butchers’ Challenge. 34 comstocksmag.com | August 201 8 anny Johnson knew it was over the second he saw that softball-shaped lump of hamburger. Under the hot lights of the stage, amid flashing camer- as and raucous cheers from the Belfast crowd, one of Johnson’s teammates at the 2018 World Butchers’ Challenge forgot to press their ground beef into an actual patty before time expired. As the judg- es approached, that giant ball of meat seemed like the only thing standing be- tween the American team and glory. This was the first time a team of American meat-cutters competed in this global event, which started between two countries in 2011, and has since expanded to 12 countries and counting. The theme of the American team’s display was “sus- tainability.” The growing popularity of the self-proclaimed “Greatest Butchery Event on Earth” seems to mirror a rising international interest in locally, ethically and sustainably sourced food. “We often say that chefs have become the rock stars of the culinary world, and we believe that butchers deserve to be right up there with them,” says Ashley Hall, chief executive of the World Butch- ers’ Challenge Council. Johnson, who owns Taylor’s Market in Sacramento’s Land Park neighbor- hood, rejects the rock star label — he’s just living the dream of a little boy from rural Placer County. In the 1960s, when the town of Newcastle was still a major fruit shipping center, the young Johnson would accompany his grandfather on packing runs from a nearby farm. Across the street from the packing house was a small neighborhood butcher shop and