Richard H Turner's column: the meat expert tells us about carnivorous carnival Meatopia
Carnivore's paradise Meatopia is back for another year this September. Our columnist tells us what he's got in store
Published: Monday 8th August 2016
Founded in New York more than a decade ago by the late, great, Joshua Ozersky – and brought to London in 2013 by yours truly – Meatopia returns to London's Tobacco Dock on the 2, 3 and 4 September. What was initially an excuse to hang out with drunken fellow carnivores in pyromaniac frenzy has turned into an almost legendary event for food lovers; a Bacchanalian, weekend-long love affair of meat, drink, fire and music.
This year Meatopia will have the best in artisan ales, fine wines and delicious spirits to complement the food. There will be live bands, butchery demos, informal workshops, art installations, street theatre and brilliant live music performances.
Now in our fourth year, we're back with a stellar line up of more than 40 UK and international chefs and we've added an extra date to this year's festivities, to include a Friday night 'Late Shift' for over-18s only. The Saturday will be the classic Meatopia everyone has come to know and love, followed by a Sunday carnival for the whole family with colourful acts, street theatre on the quayside, Tales from the Woodshed by London Log Company's Mark Parr, and fire workshops from Hunter Gather Cook and much more.
The meat on offer is extensively farmed and has lived the best of lives; hormone-, antibiotic- and cruelty free, and we celebrate the whole animal. Josh's rules stand as much today as when he created the original Meatopia in New York: no butane, no propane, no convection and certainly no microwave nonsense; tastebuds get nothing but meat cooked over live fire. With the constant singe of exploding meat juices thickening the air with fragrant smoke, there'll be nothing for it but to quench your scorched throats with rivers of wine, whisky and beer.
Every year we scour the world for interesting chefs to gather at Tobacco Dock and cook their favourite meats. They explore whole carcasses and create signature dishes; everything cooked at Meatopia is unique to that weekend only.
This year the roll call of chefs is particularly long and hallowed. South America's much-loved Francis Mallmann, who featured in the first series of Netflix documentary series Chef's Table, is serving his celebrated wood-fired food from Argentina. And look out for Michelin-starred Niklas Ekstedt from Stockholm, who earned his star producing elegant dishes in a kitchen fuelled by live fire alone.
Then there's Connie de Souza, the ex-ballerina turned master butcher and restaurateur of Calgary's Charcut; restaurateur legend Yotam Ottolenghi; the team from Hoppers with their family-style Sri Lankan cuisine; and Josh Katz, who specialises in Middle Eastern & North African dishes at his restaurant Berber & Q in Haggerston.
Dan Doherty of Duck & Waffle is back again this year, as is Neil Rankin, who'll be representing his new restaurant Temper. Selin Kiazim of Oklava, Tomos Parry of Kitty Fisher's, Tom Adams of Pitt Cue, Brad McDonald of Shotgun, James Knappett of Kitchen Table and Shaun Searley of The Quality Chop House will be there, too. All in all, it's a line up of extraordinary talent.
And, of course, I'll be putting in an appearance at a grill or two – if you see me, come say hello. In the words of the late, great man himself: "Meatopia is an evangelical movement to teach people to love meat as much as I do."