We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.
Back in April during the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, Spike Mendelsohn cooked a whole pig for a feast. He used the pig’s head to make a 10-hour cheese head broth for a soup.
About halfway through, musician Jack Johnson wandered into the kitchen to check out Mendelsohn’s work. A long-time admirer of the folk rock surfer, the chef was over the moon, happy to share secrets of the soup with Johnson and his wife.
Soon, everyone ate the pig, and sat around a fire while Johnson played the guitar for hours. Afterward, they ate the soup.
“That was a pinnacle moment of my life where I got to meet a guy that I’ve always looked up to for numerous reasons,” Mendelsohn told me.
The happy encounter was no accident. Mendelsohn and 14 other chefs had gathered outside of San Francisco for the boot camp dedicated to bolstering the advocacy work of chefs and musicians.
“Not only did I meet him, but I was there as a peer of his. We were there to learn about the same thing and share ideas. As the weekend progressed in boot camp, we sacrificed a pig. It was part of the learning process of where food comes from and what is a good way to sacrifice a pig and what is the wrong way to sacrifice an animal for food.”