The world may not have asked for an edible animal evangelist, but like many before him answering to a higher calling, Josh Ozersky will not rest until as many people as possible dedicate themselves to the cause.
Ozersky—lately of Ozersky.tv, previously of New York Magazine’s Grub Street blog and national restaurants editor at Citysearch (where I previously worked)–lives his life as a testament to the gospel of meat consumption and is one of meat’s most outsized, vocal proponents.
“If you’re going to eat meat, you should celebrate it on an almost Roman level of debauchery,” is how the food writer put it in a recent phone conversation from a hotel room in Charleston, S.C.
Ozersky was referencing his largest meat-centered production to date, Meatopia 2011 (its full name being the Amstel Light Meatopia, presented by Whole Foods), taking place on July 23 at Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
This bacchanal of meat involves more than 45 big-name chefs–Aaron Sanchez, Michael Psilakis and Nate Appleman to name a few–each creating a meat-centered plate, an 850-pound whole roasted steer, the finale of Whole Foods Market’s national butcher contest, Capogiro gelato and beverages including Amstel Light, free Fiji water and Honeydrop ice teas and juices. Musical guests include Don Ralph of New York’s Life in a Blender, who you can hear performing the event’s theme song on its videopromo.
On the more serious side, Ozersky says that the event is as much a celebration of ethical meat eating as of pure gorging (although expect plenty of that, too).
“Meatopia is a way to celebrate meat that was raised in a humane fashion that comes from a natural environment–abuse-free–no apologies required.”
To that end, meat from smaller farms, including Tamarack Tunis Farm in Cornith, Vt., the Piggery in Trumansburg, N.Y., EcoFriendly Foods in Moneta, Va., Bensmiller Farm via American Homestead Natural Pork, Mosefund Farm in Branchville, N.J., and Creekstone Farms–the largest of the bunch–in Arkansas City, Kan, will be used. About six farmers will be at the event to testify to their farming practices.
Of course the main event is the meat. Expect longer lines for the culinary expertise of chefs such as April Bloomfield (The Breslin Bar & Dining Room), who will be cooking up a barbecued whole mulefoot hog, and Eddie Huang (Baohaus), dishing out portions of Doomtopia Stew, made with Taiwanese-style pig foot, oxtail and beef cheek.
Brooklyn chefs make a strong showing with Seersucker’s Robert Newton, Mile End Delicatessen’s Noah Bernamoff, Bubby’s Ron Silver and Waterfront Ale House’s Sam Barbieri all creating dishes.
Not all the chefs are local names. Ozersky expects Naomi Pomeroy of “Top Chef Masters” and Beast in Portland, Ore., Adam Sappington of the Country Cat Dinner House & Bar, also in Portland, Ore., and Sean Brock of Husk in Charleston, S.C., to all impress even the most die-hard meat-loving New Yorkers.
The event has a capacity of 3,500 people, and the 45-plus chefs will each be making at least 1,000 portions of food (not counting the steer, cooked by celebrity meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda, his father and cousin and guerilla chef Mike Cirino).
Ozersky says the increased bounty will alleviate the longer lines of last year’s Meatopia–and explains this year’s higher price tag. “There’s no way that somebody can go to Meatopia and not have lots and lots of meat.”
Presale tickets range from $85 for general admission to $195 for “Meat Elite” access, which includes unlimited beer, early entry and access to a VIP lounge. No children under 10 are admitted unless they are babes in arms. Children aged 11 to 15 can enter on a discounted $15 presale ticket.