The 2015 Carolina Meat Conference part 2

I’d signed up for the meat conference, then in addition signed up for the “pork track” which involved breaking down a hog and making some sausage, salami, etc. What I didn’t realize when I’d signed up for the pork track was that I’d have to miss about 70% of the conference because these things went on concurrently. I can pretty much count on going back next year so I can attend all the sessions because there were definitely some good ones that I’d have liked to attend. But not great loss because the pork breakdown was very good.

1/2 of a pig, raised on a local farm.
Not quite the starting product. I whole half of a pig raised on a local farm.

When I got to class, it was already underway. I missed the introductions, learning who our instructor was, and meeting the other folks because I was in the hall talking. The last time I was late to a class like this I met SWMBO and got married so I was very wary walking in. I didn’t want to end up married again, that would have been hard to explain when I got home. To make sure I stayed unhitched I tagged in with two guys who were working a table at the back of the room. The class was about 1/3 women which in all seriousness is very good. The entire conference was about 1/2 women in attendance, and probably 60% of the presenters. But in my case, I decided to stay with the boys and I’m glad I did because they both turned out to be very cool people.

Pork break down class
The setup for the classroom. Excellent lighting, a really cool room, and good acoustics.

The instructor, who worked in a butcher shop full-time, did an excellent job of first showing what was going on, then working the room and checking on everyone.

Pork butchery class
Our instructor giving one on one instruction to some of the students

The conference folks had a large screen TV and someone with a camera always shooting what he was doing so that everyone could see. It worked really well and I was impressed with the forethought in putting that system in place.

Chef breaking down a side of pork
Chef Don working on part of our pork

Don, one of the guys at my table, was a recently retired chef from Raleigh who’d spent 30 years in the kitchen. He was very adept at breaking down the cuts and did most of the knife work. Because of my back, I elected to take notes rather than take a turn behind the knife which worked out great because I could catch the things Don missed while he was working and the instructor was talking. The end result was our table got the gold star for always being done correctly and first. Go team!

After finishing with pork class, day 1 I skipped the rest of the conference classes and went back to the hotel to rest my back a bit because there was a dinner and cocktail hour.The keynote speaker was Allan Savory and I was excited to hear him speak.

Allan Savory speaking at NC Choices 2015
Allan Savory giving his after dinner talk

He is somewhat of the father of the movement for healing the land via livestock and grazing and I’d seen his great TED talk years ago (if you’ve not seen it, go watch it now. It’s worth the 15 mins). Back at the dinner, I again ended up in multiple conversations with various people I knew or just met but had lots in common with. It felt more like a family reunion than a conference. Finally Allan started his speech and not 10 minutes in my phone rang and I ended up outside and on the phone for nearly all of his speech. Oh well, from what I saw it wasn’t anything new anyway. Tomorrow was a new day, and we’d be making sausage!

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