The Butcher’s Ball Is a Carnivore’s Paradise
Rockin’ Star Ranch hosts the ultimate Texas meat-up on Sunday
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
8:00AM, Mon. Oct. 14, 2019
Anybody who’s a carnivore in this town is grinning in anticipation of the fourth annual Butcher’s Ball this coming Sunday. Especially if they've already got tickets to the event. And … why are they grinning?
Because that amazing culinary event features more than 50 chefs, butchers, farmers, ranchers, educators, bartenders, and other leaders in the Texas food industry – all of them convening at Rockin’ Star Ranch just outside of Brenham for a day of cooking competitions, butchery demonstrations, craft beer and wine and cocktails, live music, and the whole spectacle of tasty goodness revealing itself like Heaven’s own brisket plate across the beautiful Texas landscape.
The butchery demos will be presented by two of the state’s top butchers – Central Texas Meat Collective's Julia Poplawsky and Jack Matusek of Raw Republic Meats – and the lineup of chefs whose creations will be offered includes Loro’s Bramwell Tripp, Brandi Key from Houston’s Alice Blue, Nicola Blaque of San Antonio's Jerk Shack, Mark Scott of Convenience West out in Marfa, and – oh, on and on, until we’re almost drooling at the thought of the gathered talent and what they’ll be providing. And we haven’t even mentioned the desserts, have we?
So that’s why all the soon-to-be-attending carnivores are grinning. That, and the knowledge that much of the event’s proceeds will go to support Urban Harvest.
But – what about the folks who’ll be a professional part of the action? Why are they excited about this weekend festival of feasting and fun?
That question seemed like a good excuse to talk with two of our favorite chefs – Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley of Austin’s Foreign & Domestic.
Austin Chronicle: What will you be bringing to the competition this year?
Sarah Heard: We haven’t fully figured out our dish, but we’re definitely doing nduja. We’re using Chubby Dog Farm's pork – we love them a whole lot – and probably something with pickles and bread. And some sort of fruit – figs, if we can still get them.
Nathan Lemley: We do a lot of fermented meats and sausages, cured meat and stuff. And we like to show it off for these events.
AC: Y’all make your own pickles?
Heard: Oh yeah, and meat. And bread. And – we try to do everything from scratch.
AC: Oh, nice. Maybe it’s better to ask what you don’t make from scratch?
Heard: Cheese. Although we do make some cheese here. We haven’t gotten to hard cheeses yet: The health department has a lot of red tape you have to deal with when you’re doing that sort of thing – and you need a lot of time, a lot of space. So we’re not doing things like Pecorino or Parmesan in-house. But we do make our own soft cheeses. Ricotta, mostly – that’s the one we feel is the most versatile.
AC: And what are y’all looking forward to most at this year’s Butcher’s Ball?
Heard: Seeing everybody we love.
Lemley: It’s a cool event. It’s kinda out in the middle of nowhere, and there’s a lot of chefs, a lot of people there from Houston. We’re both from the Houston area and we know a lot of people there, so getting together is always fun. And it’s a friendly competition as well – everybody competing, wanting to show each other up for braggin’ rights. It’s a big party for a good cause.
Heard: The energy at Butcher’s Ball is phenomenal.