Cochon555, the porkcentric festival that celebrates heritage breed hogs returns to New York City this Sunday pairing five chefs with five different breeds in a competition like no other. Also returning this year are Erika Nakamura and Jocelyn Guest of White Gold Butchers who will break down a Large Black and auction off the cuts to benefit Piggy Bank. Erika was gracious enough to find the time to answer Seven Questions before Sunday’s festivities.
1. How did you get into butchering?
I have a background in sculpture. When I changed careers and became a line cook, I quickly realized that it was not for me. At the same time, I was exposed to aspects of whole animal butchery that really spoke to me, so I decided to pursue it.
2. What is your favorite thing about Cochon555?
My favorite part of Cochon555 is the community building and philanthropic aspects of the event. Over the past 9 years I have had the pleasure of meeting so many awe-inspiring chefs, farmers, wine-makers, and butchers who I am able to call friends. It’s amazing to support one another and to learn and grow.
3. What does it take to be a rock star butcher?
I hate the term ‘rock star.’ This is a blue collared job and requires long, exhausting hours doing tedious work, but I do it because I believe in it. It’s important to spark curiosity around whole animal butchery because it brings excitement to a once-forgotten craft, and keeps this tradition relevant.
4. What’s new at White Gold these days?
Jocelyn and I are focused on delivering delicious well-raised meats to our customers. There are always new and exciting things happening, but to know what those are, you’ll have to come by and see for yourself!
5. What are some of your favorite places to eat in New York City?
We prefer to cook for ourselves most of the time, but when we have the opportunity to splurge, we visit Prune which is one of our very favorites.
6. What’s in your refrigerator?
Mostly vegetables, stock, and a few condiments like soy sauce and Kewpie mayo. Anything that can accompany an off cut we might bring home that day.
7. Loved the segment you did with the pig head with Action Bronson. As you know he’s a Queens boy, do you get out that way much?
We hardly ever have a chance to leave the upper west side. When we do, we tend to visit friends in Brooklyn. Sorry to say that Queens is rarely on the map these days.