Butchers at Taylor ’ s Market practice whole-animal butchery and source much of their meat locally .
increasing awareness , not just about sustainability , but about advanced cooking techniques as well : “ More and more we see at the end of a very busy weekend , rib-eyes and filets are still in supply , and the other cuts that take a little more technique to cook are gone .”
SHOWCASING TECHNIQUE There was no scarcity of technique by the American team at the World Butchers ’ Challenge . When The Butchers Guild co-founder Tia Harrison tabbed Johnson to lead the team in Belfast , he helped hand-pick an all-star lineup that included Paul Carras , his longtime employee and apprentice .
“ Danny was and is my teacher , so most everything that I know is because of Danny ,” says Carras , who started working in the Taylor ’ s Market meat department when he was 15 years old . “ I was trained by an old-school teacher , so some of my methods are old-school .”
Those old-school methods , such as breaking down whole animals and making sausages , served Carras and Johnson well in competition . Over the course of three hours and 15 minutes , each six-person team of butchers must break down a side of beef , a whole lamb , a whole hog and five chickens , then arrange the cuts into a themed display that exhibits value-added creativity and consumer appeal .
Teams provide their own spices , seasonings , decorations and signage with cooking instructions , and they are judged by both veteran butchers and health inspectors . The Americans stuck to the theme of sustainability by using every part of the animals in their display , even though the WBC rules don ’ t require teams to process the bones and fat . “ We made pet food , we cut up bones , we had stock pots with bones in them ,” Johnson says . “ Everything went on the table .”
During his time in Belfast , Johnson also collaborated with Visit Sacramento on a successful bid to bring the 2020 World Butchers ’ Challenge to Sacramento , beating out Paris and Rio de Janeiro . Hall , chief executive of the competiton ’ s council , says the level of collaboration that went into Sacramento ’ s pitch was impressive . “ The council felt that Sacramento was best positioned to help successfully grow the competition and take it to that next level ... It does feel as though the whole community banded together to create the bid ,” Hall says . No official date has been set for WBC 2020 in Sacramento .
The Americans placed a respectable sixth out of 12 teams at WBC 2018 , but both Carras and Johnson believe the team was only a couple mistakes away from the top three . Johnson plans to take one last shot at the World Butchers ’ Challenge title before moving into coaching and judging , while Carras is already “ anxious ” for a shot at redemption . •
Daniel Barnes is a freelance writer and member of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle . His work has appeared in the Sacramento Bee , Sacramento News & Review , East Bay Express , Philadelphia Weekly and San Antonio Current , among others .