Whole Lamb on the Grill, Carcass Hill
The stunning sight of these whole lambs was nothing compared to their mouthwatering aroma. Santiago Garat's tent was set up at the entryway to the festival, so each guest got to take a whiff of the slow-roasting meat on their way in.
Santiago Garat's Whole Uruguayan Lamb
We got chunks of lamb fresh off the grill, with buttery rendered fat dripping on the edges. A zesty chimichurri sauce and a yogurt-dressed potato salad were the perfect foils.
April Bloomfield's Kansas City-Style BBQ'd Whole Hog
I headed for Bloomfield’s tent on the early side, hoping (unsuccessfully) to beat the long line. It shouldn't come as a surprise that she makes a mean pulled pork. Slathered in a traditional spice and sugar rub, the skin had a gorgeous crisp bark.
The pulled meat was tossed with a cumin-spiced barbecue sauce and topped with a tangy slaw, making these simple, perfectly executed sliders one of the most memorable bites I had all day.
Pat LaFrieda's Whole Thousand-Pound Marinated Creekstone Steer
This thing was mind-bogglingly huge. As in, so huge that I couldn't even take a picture of the whole animal at once. By the time I left, roughly 4 hours after taking this shot, the crowd had barely made a dent.
Pat LaFrieda's 1,000 Pounder
A juicy piece of beef, off of LaFrieda's steer.
John Stage's St. Louis Spare Ribs and Barbecued Jumbo Chicken Wings
Stage's ribs didn't rock my world, but he managed to make his chicken wings taste like chicken thighs. The crackly skin and juicy meat had me gnawing at the bone for every last scrap.
I wasn't the only one to go wild for Stage's wings.
Aaron Franklin's Texas Beef Brisket
When people claim that a cut of meat "melts in your mouth," they're usually exaggerating. Not the case here. This was not only the best thing I ate all day; it was probably the best piece of meat I've eaten in my life.
Best Brisket, Part 2
Bron gave me the scoop on Franklin's magical brisket. The Creekstone cuts were wrapped in butcher paper, allowing them to sweat while developing their gorgeous crust. Franklin also started his meat in the smoker at 9. On the evening before Meatopia. That's some serious dedication.
Rain or Shine
The sky turned gray and the wind picked up, but these folks didn't skip a beat.
Michael White's Grilled Pork Cheeks
I would've downed every plate of this if I'd had a backup stomach. White cured and hung this pork jowl for two weeks before giving it a three hour braise. Seared off and served in a peach-infused vinaigrette with pieces of White's house-made focaccia, it was a tough act to beat.
Joey Campanaro's Sangria Marinated Butcher Steak
Campanaro's team plugged on relentlessly despite the impending rain.
Marc Forgione's Grilled Rib Steak
This cut of beef was served with a generous dollop of creamy bone marrow butter, pierre poivre, and smoked onion chimichurri.
Justin Smilie's Spit-Roasted Short Ribs
This tender cut was a highlight of the afternoon. Adorned with freshly grated horseradish, it sat atop an unconventional—but highly successful—salad of celery, olives, and walnuts.
The storm moves in.
With a quick break between showers, this couple rushed out for another bite (and threw on some optimistic sunglasses!).
Adam Perry Lang's Charred and Scruffed Beef Short Ribs
After a six hour cook, these tender short ribs were practically falling off the bone.
Tim Byres' Best Butcher's Steak
Byres, of Dallas' SMOKE, was a judge for Meatopia's Best Butcher competition. The pickled celery served with his glistening rare steak had a great smooth texture, similar to cucumber.
Tim Byre's Best Butcher's Steak
A landscape of dancing flames took center stage as the sun began to set.
The Final Three Compete
Whole Food butchers Armand Ferrante, Jon Kalabolas, and Andy Alcorn enter the second stage of the "Best Butcher" competition. In blue, Josh Ozersky MCs.
Competing Butchers at Work
The final three butchers compete to invent a new cut of meat, to be sold in Whole Foods stores nationwide.
Andy "The Animal" Alcorn's Competing Steak
Best Butcher hopeful Andy proudly displays his brainchild, the Jacob's Ladder Steak.
Best Butcher Cuts
The final three cuts of meat in the competition sit awaiting judgment.
Best Butcher Winner, Armand "The Arm" Ferrante
Armand bagged a trip to Iceland and some serious industry bragging rights with his winning "Jersey Arm Chuck Steak."
Armand "The Arm" Ferrante
Best Butcher 2012 displays his winning Jersey Arm Chuck, fashioned from a four-bone chuck shortrib cut from the bone.
Noah Bernamoff's Smoked Veal Brisket
The acclaimed Mile End chef served this rich cut with hot pickled tomatoes.
US Navy SEAL Venison
This SEAL showed off his new tat after serving up some flavorful grilled venison. To help ease its gaminess, he wrapped the venison in bacon and served it with jalapeño and cream cheese—his grandmother's recipe from Montana.
Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos
Insanely gorgeous couple Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos, posing at their table in Meatopia Heights.
Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos's Pizza al Carpaccio
This pizza was simple in the best of ways. A crisp crust, a leaf of arugula, and a squeeze of lemon juice were all that accompanied the smooth, lean cut of eye round beef.
Happy Scrapple Eater
A guest chows down on Andy Little's phenomenal scrapple sliders.
Kris Yenbamroong's Hog Collar
These fatty cuts made a beautiful sight backlit against the flames of the grill. Yenbamroong's tent on Embassy Row served them up with Jaew, a tangy Thai chili dip made with fish sauce.
Jonathon Sawyer's Brains and Bread
Not everyone would jump at the occasion to eat this dish of scrambled brains and eggs, topped with crispy sweetbreads and lamb liver bottarga. But I did, and boy am I glad. Sawyer's excellent, creamy dish easily ranks in my top five of the day.
A Final Farewell
Long after the sun had set, rain continued to come down but plates were still being cleaned.