after the party:
Sold out in 2.5 hours. Apparently Austin, Texas is hungry as Hell for wild boar hog, antelope and alligator.
We're still experimenting. Refining the pop up restaurant experience for our guests. One thing we've really wanted to do since our very first pop up in summer of 2012 was to improve the quality of our sourcing. Yes, everybody has basically freaked out over how good the chow is but we're always looking for an edge.
To accomplish this we've begun sourcing from high dollar vendors like Broken Arrow Ranch. There's a reason exotic game meats are hard to find on Austin menus. They're bloody expensive as Hell. We don't come close to matching industry pricing margins or nobody would come to our events except fat cats who pull down a hundred K+.
It's a noble experiment that thankfully has been met with enthusiasm. We sold out of our appetizer (alligator queso) and dessert (chocolate bread pudding) in one hour last night. We were happy with the quality of both but once again; there was room for improvement on each dish.
We're always looking for feedback, particularly the negative kind. It's how we'll grow as responsive cooks. When uber eaters like Ryan of Foie Gras Hot Dog and ChrisDDS of Chowhound inform us that our food needs more salt, you best believe we'll be reexamining our utilization of this sacred ingredient. We've been working on amping up our flavor profiles and simultaneously reducing the sodium in our dishes. This experiment appears to have failed so we'll be busting out our Himalayan salt grinder at future events.
The boudin appeared to be the star of the show. We've been working on our Texas Hot Guts project for over a year now and love spending time over the grinder/extruder part of our operation. Each pop up restaurant event we produce will always have plenty handmade sausages. Y'all love Longhorn beef, we love Longhorn beef.
Inspiration strikes. We wanted to do something whimsical for dessert so we draped our bread pudding with 100 Grand Bar creme fraiche. We're not saying we invented it but we were around for its inception.
Antelope is really dear. We went all in and got the bones to make the stock before we even considered cooking the chili. By the time it was said and done we had about $250 dollars invested in our kettle of Texas Red. We're hoping to continue using Broken Arrow Ranch for future pop ups as their meats are divine. Pricey, but divine.
The wild boar hog was the slowest recipe on the menu. All told it was an 84 hour project from brining to braising to serving. Once again, we're addressing the low salt complaints for future projects. After 3 days in a salty brine we were loathe to add any salt to the finished dish but that was a mistake. A mistake we won't make in the future.
Amuse bouche. Easy cheese and a bowl of Bugles. Made a few people laugh and everybody dug in. It's how we said Bon Appetit to people as they walked in the door.
It turns out there are plenty people who like to eat a 6pm supper. We had a line waiting on the doors to open. Some folks commented that they were hustling to make a 7pm movie so our early open was a good decision.
At an hour and fifty minutes into the event we were crossing items off the menu. It's tricky...a balancing act to figure out how much food to buy, how big to batch the recipes and how well we should stock the larders. Y'all ate 64lbs of meat, 30lbs of potatoes, 20lbs of green beans, 8 quarts of queso, 10lbs of boudin along with other assorted sundries.
It's been particularly gratifying to see folks embracing foods that they find exotic or strange. Like boudin; contrary to popular belief I did not pop out of my mama's womb with a stick of boudin in my hand. I had to get turned onto it when I was a kid vacationing in NOLA. We had to explain what it is to people but now our guests are all over it. We'll be making another big batch for our next event:
Scrumptious Chef Pop Up Restaurant Event Number 8: Heritage Pork
Once again. Like any group of chefs in town we want to work with the finest ingredients we can lay our hands on. So we're going to source a big batch of hog parts from a local heavyweight pork farm and honor the creature the best way we know how: Through a series of brinings, curings, roastings, and smokings til we have the best menu we can possibly create.
Breeds being considered for this theme-d pop up are Duroc, Mangalitsa, Tamworth, Red Wattle, and Berkshire. Are you in the industry? Let us know about your favorite source.
Thanks for coming out last night y'all. And thanks for the feedback. Good or bad we want to hear what y'all think about the events and what improvements we can make for future food parties.
And this event would not have been possible without Ryan and Nick, our two behind the scenes cooks who did the lion's share of the work during the pop up.