Occasionally, I witness something so cool that I can’t help myself from posting a few shots that don’t fit into our normal format. In doing so, I also can’t avoid a shameless plug for Primo Restaurant in Rockland, Maine, where I dined this past weekend. After an amazing dinner, I accepted an invitation to come back the next day to photograph a sacred annual ritual: the carving of the pigs.
Chef and co-founder Melissa Kelly dubs her joint a “full circle kitchen,” which means that a great deal of the food she serves at Primo is grown or raised on-site in the adjacent gardens and farm. This alone is an impressive feat, but Chef Kelly goes one step further – nearly nothing goes to waste, including a pig’s brain and eyeballs. This James Beard award-winning culinary genius doesn’t just love to cook, she respects food. While I could go on ad nauseam about how each menu reflects Kelly’s food philosophy, how she draws countless gourmands to her out-of-the-way restaurant and has perhaps, even changed the food world itself – Google is just as capable of doing that job. I’m interested in showing what I saw this past weekend.
A brief note: Some of the images are a bit…um, gory. One vegetarian friend of mine recoiled in disgust upon seeing a pig cut in half. While I completely understand that reaction, I think it’s important to remember that Primo Restaurant is the furthest thing from a commercial slaughter-house. To call these pigs “organic” doesn’t even seem to do them justice. These beasts are raised in the best of conditions and practically everything appears on future menus.
Finally, I’d like to give a big THANK YOU to Chef Melissa Kelly for letting me into the ground floor of Primo, despite the fact that I gave her virtually no explanation. It’s a rare breed that is willing to open their backdoor to a stranger, who simply “wants to take pictures”. Also, a wicked big thanks to Sous Chef Josh Fratoni, Line Cook Lazaro Galicia and the rest of the team at Primo for letting me bang around the butcher room. You guys are masters at your craft and were super cool to boot. I’m in awe of your knife-wielding skills. Finally, a big thanks to Charcutier Matt Margolskee (he wouldn’t give himself such a fancy pants title, but I will) for setting up the shoot and also for hooking me up with a plate of super tasty cured meat. I can’t wait to sit at your counter again.