Chefs love everything about pigs, even the fat.
“The pig is the all-around perfect animal,” executive chef Ryan Skeen of The Cannibal, a New York City restaurant, told the News-Press by phone from his home in the Big Apple.
Mr. Skeen is joining local chefs in honoring the beloved swine with a Year of the Pig Rooftop Celebration & Chef Collaboration.
The event will take place 5 to 9 p.m. today on the roof of the Kimpton Canary Santa Barbara, 31 W. Carrillo St.
The celebration will feature dishes by Mr. Skeen and fellow executive chefs Peter Cham of Finch & Fork, the Canary hotel’s restaurant, and Damien Giliberti of Outpost at The Goodland, the eatery at Kimpton The Goodland in Goleta.
Special drinks are also on the menu, such as a Pork Washed Margarita. Mr. Cham told the News-Press it contains bacon fat-infused mezcal, which is smokier than tequila. (Both liquors are made from agave.)
“We’re also doing a signature WhistlePig whiskey shot, which may involve some pork as well. We’re still working on that,” he said, chuckling.
Mr. Cham, 34, said his goal for the event is to raise $1,000 for No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit working to end childhood hunger in the U.S. “I would say we’ll have anywhere from a hundred to 120 guests.”
Mr. Cham shares Mr. Skeen’s enthusiasm for pork.
“There are different parts of the pig that are all delicious,” the Finch & Fork chef said. “You can have very lean cuts, very fatty cuts. You can roast it, you can braise it, you can grill it. It’s really versatile in its usages, which is why I think all chefs love this protein.”
Mr. Cham is creating three dishes for the event, including his Glazed Pork Belly Pops, which are served on toothpicks. You devour them in a single bite.
“They’re slow-roasted pork belly that we’ve caramelized and glazed with an apricot mustard glaze,” Mr. Cham said. “Then they’re topped with some crispy puff grains. It gives you a nice crunch.”
Mr. Cham is also preparing Rubbed Porchetta, a slow-roasted Italian dish that he described as “basically the loin of pork with the pork belly attached.”
“It’s really nice and juicy,” he said.
His third dish is a Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork Slider, which uses Kaiser rolls.
The Cannibal’s Mr. Skeen, who’s friends with Canary food and beverage director Bryan La Fontaine, is contributing his Grilled Mangalitsa Pork Belly.
“Mangalitsa are fat-heavy pigs. They’re coming from a farm group in New Jersey that I work with on a regular basis,” Mr. Skeen, 40, said. “They’re gamier and have a lot more fat content. They’re really juicy.”
Mr. Skeen is also making a salad using watermelon that’s mildly pickled.
Outpost’s Mr. Giliberti, 35, is combining Asian, American and Mexican flavors for his Pork Belly Bao Buns.
He said the dish, which is popular with customers at his restaurant, features steamed, fluffy buns.
“Inside the bun, we’re going to stick a pork belly; marinated cucumbers; jalapeno kewpie, a Japanese-style mayonnaise we make in-house; a little hoisin; and cilantro,” Mr. Giliberti said.
“It’s one of my go-tos at the restaurant when I’m hungry and I need to eat something really quickly,” he said. “I think they’re delicious.”
The chef conceded the dish isn’t the most diet-friendly. “But if you’re exercising every day, I say, ‘Why not?’ “
Mr. Giliberti and Mr. Cham, in fact, are exercising a lot, to the point they’re ready to ride their bicycles for 300 miles to raise funds for No Kid Hungry.
They’re co-captains of the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group team in Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry. On May 14-16, they will ride loops around Santa Rosa and its vineyards and beaches for a total of 300 miles.
So far, the Kimpton team has raised more than $44,500 for the event. Mr. Giliberti has collected $7,800, and Mr. Cham has raised more than $5,400.
Both have ridden previously in Chefs Cycle. “It takes chefs out of the kitchen,” Mr. Cham said. “It reminds us we have to take care of ourselves, and at the same time, it’s for a great cause.”
IF YOU GO
The Year of the Pig Rooftop Celebration & Chef Collaboration will feature a menu of special pork dishes from 5 to 9 p.m. today at the Kimpton Canary Santa Barbara, 31 W. Carrillo St. Local reggae band Cydeways will play.
Tickets cost $30. To purchase, go to nightout.com/events/year-of-the-pig-rooftop-celebration/tickets.
Proceeds will benefit No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit helping to end childhood hunger in the U.S. Executive chefs Peter Cham of Finch & Fork, Canary’s restaurant, and Damien Giliberti of Outpost at The Goodland are raising more money by riding their bicycles May 14-16 in Santa Rosa during Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry. To donate, go to http://join.nokidhungry.org/site/TR/ChefsCycle/General?px=3314428&pg=personal&fr_id=1571.