On Tradition, Culture and the Art of Butchery – The Whole Animal, a Documentary Now Streaming on SOMM TV
While Jason Wise, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of SOMM TV, was traveling in Europe several years ago, his intention was to garner inspiration for an original film that was profession based. What he couldn’t have predicted was that the art of butchery would become the core of a fascinating documentary, The Whole Animal, currently streaming on SOMM TV, an online platform of over 400 hours of original content offering compelling stories of food, wine and hospitality.
During our recent conversation, Wise explained that “the idea was to take chunks of the world and share a diaspora of people and their culture with the butcher at the center.” The result speaks for itself. The story of butchery is a beautifully written and directed documentary that “takes the viewer to five countries through the pages of a mysterious cookbook to experience how using the whole animal and wasting nothing can teach us as much about our food as it can about the culture that made it.”
A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend the premier of The Whole Animal at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago and frankly, I never expected to be energized by a documentary about the art of butchery. But I was. Wise directed and produced a film with music by Alex Mansour, a full orchestral background, intriguing camera work and an overall theme that blended history, culture and food.
In essence, The Whole Animal emphasizes that “there’s a purpose behind every part of the animal.” Wise used the art of butchery as the “center of the wheel in order to highlight the farmer, the chef, the restaurateurs and how animals are treated. Meat is ingrained in our global culture and food is the best way to take the culture with you.” He remarked that his “primary goal was to make something original and show something that most people wouldn’t have access to.”
Interviews with butchers, chefs and farmers in Italy, France, Spain, Argentina and the United States reveal beliefs regarding the whole animal. For example, Duskie Estes, Rancher/Owner of Black Pig Meat Company and former vegetarian, stated “We use the snout to tail philosophy in that nothing goes to waste.” Luc Moineville from Alsace shared, “We transform a living animal into meat and we value and use every piece of it.” Others reiterated the idea that “we must utilize every single bit of chicken, pig, cow… if not, something is missing. There’s a purpose behind every part of the animal.”
Naturally, everyone will have their own takeaways after seeing this film. (And vegetarians, beware – you may find yourself at the local butcher shop choosing that perfect cut of grass-fed beef.) Jason Wise stated his own conclusions. “If we’re going to use the whole animal, slow cooking is one of the greatest solutions. And purchase meat from a butcher you know. They show respect to every animal.”
Cheers! ~ Cindy
NOTE: Prior to the premier of The Whole Animal at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, VIP guests enjoyed dinner of premium Flannery beef, perfectly grilled by Simon Davies, Executive Chef at Alinea, a glass or two of Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel and good conversation with other media, journalists, and cast members including Brian Flannery. Thank you SOMM TV.
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