k Meatopia at Pikes with Richard H Turner k
Ibiza continues to make a huge mark in the food world as we are seeing a conscious eating movement emerging with vegan/vegetarian restaurants, wellbeing retreats, organic farms, juice bars and health food stores glaore leading the way. And now gracing the island we have Richard H Turner – the ambassador of ethical meat provenance hosting a monthly ‘mini Meatopia’ at Pikes. So where do we start with this man’s accolades? An acclaimed restaurateur who is Executive Chef of Hawksmoor, Partner in Pitt Cue Co plus one half of the independent butcher Turner & George who supplies the best quality British rare breed meat money can buy. He has taken the white island by storm.
With an unwavering passion for food, there’s no doubting his love for all things barbecue. And using his wealth of worldwide traveling knowledge and passion, this summer has seen ‘Meatopia’ become one of the most talked about pop up events of 2016. The fact that he produces this glorious feast of food at one of my favourite places on planet earth Pikes obviously helps!
Originally set up by the late Josh Ozersky of Time Magazine fame, it was Turner who brought the brand to the UK . Meatopia UK has become a legendary event for food lovers, a festival entirely dedicated to meat that adheres to stringent principles. First and foremost the meat is of the highest quality and ethically sourced with the animal living the best of life, raised naturally plus hormone and anti-biotic free and butchered locally to where the animal was raised. Meatopia promises real fire cooking with no butane or propane and everything made over logs or hardwood charcoal that has been ethically sourced.
With the increasing controversy and debate that has arisen over the ethics of eating animals, we are seeing a growing emergence of veganism and now flexitarianism. I don’t like to label myself, but I would say this is a category I would fall under as I do fall off the meat wagon occasionally. And whilst most people living in the developed world are completely aware of the ethical objections, they continue to devour meat for one main reason. They just love the taste of it.
In my opinion Turner is an ambassador of ‘mindful meat eating’ objecting to the horrendous practices of factory farming and does share my unease and dissatisfaction with our current system of mass meat production. I certainly believe there is a shift of opinion about meat in the past decade and in years to come people will express incredulity at the way we once treated animals destined to become ‘food.’ But whatever you think about meat — whether you are a rabid carnivore, guilty omnivores or simply demand the best in taste and provenance, Meatpioa makes meat eating little more deliciously legitimate. But don’t just take my word for it, listen to the man himself…
One of the key principles behind Meatopia is provenance – your meat, wood and charcoal is ethically sourced…
We all eat way too much meat and consequently much of that is intensively farmed in horrific factory farms that are both bad for the animals health and consequently our health and environment. At Meatopia we believe in eating less meat but better quality without growth promoters, hormones or unnatural feeds. It’s idealistic and not easy but the alternative is vegetarianism and I’m not ready for that. Similarly much of the fuel wood and charcoal around the world is cut to purpose, so trees are cut down specifically for fuel. We prefer to use by products fuel such as old fruitwood, vines or even better reclaimed wood if at all possible.
Why did you choose Ibiza as a Meatopia destination?
Ibiza is the centre of the world, just look at the people who choose to call it home, many can afford to live anywhere they want! Unless I stumble upon a place more suited to my needs which includes great food, drink, music, weather and people, I think I will definitely end up living on the island one day.
Josh Ozersky was both loved and loathed for his outspoken opinions including mocking vegans and vegetarians. What do you think about the new ‘flexitarian’ movement of mainly following a vegan diet which occasionally sees people falling off the meat wagon when the urge hits?
Both Josh and I played to the ant-vegetarian thing, but the truth is there isn’t enough quality meat to go around. So the more people who go vegetarian the less demand for cheap meat there’ll be – and the more quality ethically farmed meat left for us! We should all be more flexitarian in out diet, eating meat once or twice a week is definitely the future.
What are the main principles you would you like to educate people about meat?
Buy from a butcher that can tell you about the farm and the animals the meat has come from. Buy less and cook judiciously. Waste nothing including ‘icky’ bits as they are usually the tastiest!
What has been your best BBQ experience, particularly on your worldwide travels?
I’m lucky enough to travel all over the world cooking and eating BBQ, so there have been many great experiences. Recently I’ve been to the Philippines researching their charcoal roast lechon or suckling pig, which is pretty special. My best experience may be São Paulo last year at Churrescado, but I have a feeling next month’s Meatopia in London will top anything previous.
Tell me about your BBQ kit/structure…it would have all those Webber owners green with BBQ envy!
My answer is build your own and keep it simple! Great BBQ comes from taking care and sourcing properly, not from clever kit. That said, I tend to favour several levels of grill/resting areas so I can cook as slowly as possible. This makes for juicier more tender meat.
Meat prices are anticipated to double in the next five to seven years, making meat a luxury item. Dutch scientists have used stem cells taken from cows and have successfully produced strips of muscle tissue. So we could be seeing “test-tube burgers” in the not too distant future, what are your thoughts on this?
I have to say, anything that messes with nature alarms me as historically things tend not to go well for us. Also the flavour in meat comes from the working muscles, not the static muscles. So I’d imagine it’ll taste of nothing. I think if pushed I’d rather eat vegetables.
A considerable proportion of world’s population already eat insects – crickets are eaten in Thailand, wasps are a delicacy in Japan and caterpillars and locusts are popular in Africa. Future food analysts are also predicting insects are likely to be a staple of our future diets. Are you a fan?
There’s nothing wrong at all with eating insects. They can be really very tasty, particularly if charcoal roasted when they take on peanut like flavours.
I’m all about the accompaniments. What is currently featuring on your fabulous menus right now?
We’ll be accompanying the meat with a variety of interesting salads. Because we cook meat so simply this is where we try to be a bit more chefy, though still nothing over the top. Ash baked beets with hazelnut and raspberry dressing, pickled shiitakes, green chili slaw and a Moroccan potato salad all feature.
Please share your four top BBQ tips to achieve success every time.
- Buy carefully and consciously.
- Cook slowly, allow wood or charcoal to burn down before beginning.
- Keep meat moving, this increases Maillard and consequently flavour.
- Keep things simple, quality requires less messing than cheap produce.
And finally, you just mentioned a possible move here to Ibiza, how likely is this and will be sitting around one of your restaurant tables?
Ibiza is a long term goal as I have to conclude my business commitments in the UK first which will take a few years. When I hopefully do make it over however I doubt I’ll be able to sit around and do nothing, so yes there will be a restaurant. Maybe a finca supplying that restaurant? Hey, we’ll see Tess…