Nose-to-tail dining is not a new concept, it’s been around for a couple of decades and popularised by chefs such as Fergus Henderson and the late Anthony Bourdain. It’s about eating all edible parts of the animal, in an effort to minimise waste, eat thoughtfully, celebrate food, and ensure that the animal is given the respect that it deserves.
Kiwi chefs have been proudly embracing this philosophy for decades. Apart from the reasons above, it’s also a great way to add an exciting element to the plate and introduce customers to something they may have never tried or wouldn’t be able to create at home.
Cuts such as shanks, shins, oxtails, and cheeks were once thrown to the dogs. However, these cuts have now become the hero on many restaurant menus, thanks to our talented chefs. Chefs shouldn’t shy away from using more adventurous offal on their menus though. If consumers are struggling a bit with getting their palate around eating things like heart, sweetbreads, tongue, or livers then being able to order them off a restaurant menu where it has been cooked by a chef, is a great place for them to begin to enjoy the benefits of eating nose-to-tail.
One of the most popular nose-to-tail cuts at restaurants is beef cheeks. Auckland-based Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chef, Phil Clark not only uses them on his fine dining menu at Phil’s Kitchen, but has them as a staple on his casual dining menu at Kingsland Social.
Phil creates a slow-cooked beef cheek base which he can then turn into one of three menu items; nachos, beef on toast or beef burgers. He says that apart from adding a deep rich flavour to his dishes, using whole cheek means he gets a more consistent product to work with and can control the fat to meat ratio a lot better than if he was using a mince product.
Offal can be a little more confronting to diners, but Hannah Miller Childs (aka A Lady Butcher), and owner of Churly’s Brew Pub & Eatery, knows just how to make a tasty meal to entice her customers to step into the world of offal. With dishes such as devilled kidneys, salted and chargrilled ox heart and pan-seared ox liver topped with crispy bacon, it’s no wonder her customers keep coming back for more – and bringing their mates with them!