January 16, 2009

A meat fabrication and butchery workshop for working chefs will be offered by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. The UK Meat Cutting School will meet from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26 at the E.S. Good Barn on the UK campus.

UK Meat Science Extension Specialist Gregg Rentfrow will conduct the workshop, which will include sessions focusing on pork, lamb, goat and beef fabrication. He and UK Chef and Instructor Bob Perry believe this is a timely workshop. Both men have noticed a growing trend toward chefs buying and butchering whole animal carcasses themselves.

"It lowers the cost when you break the animal down yourself," Perry said. "You get more utilization out of it. And you can really buy directly from the farm, so you can guarantee your quality, and you can help the local farmers and help the economy."

Rentfrow designed the workshop curriculum based on input from professional chefs.

"Part of the reason we're opening our meat cutting school to chefs is, a lot of the basic meat cutting skills are no longer taught, or they're taught in a limited way, in culinary schools," he said. "Our hope is that we can teach them how to fabricate a whole lamb carcass or a whole pork carcass, and maybe that will open the doors for some of these producers to get their product into some of these white tablecloth restaurants. Hopefully it will help promote some of the locally produced livestock that we have."

During the day-long program, he will discuss the U.S. Department of Agriculture's viewpoint as it concerns local, organic, natural, grass-fed and conventional production, as well as the positive and negative sides of each. He will also talk about how the slaughter process can affect meat quality.

The morning will be devoted to short lectures on how each particular meat production industry works. In the afternoon, participants will move to the meat lab in the Garrigus building where Rentfrow will demonstrate carcass fabrication and sausage-making. There will also be a boxed beef cutting demonstration highlighting some of the new beef cuts, such as chuck eye steak, American roast and Denver cut.

"This is the first time we've offered the cutting school to chefs. I'm really starting to get into working with these professionals. They speak a different language than we do as meat scientists or general scientists," Rentfrow said. "We're trying to work through different avenues with them to let them know that our extension program is here for them as well. Extension is not only for farmers and 4-H, but we're also here for the grocery stores and the restaurants and local producers."

Cost for the workshop is $20. Free guest parking is available at E.S. Good Barn. Lunch is not included. To register, contact Perry at 859-257-1692 or through e-mail at bob.perry@uky.edu.