FoodDaily Dish

Chef(-butcher) of the Moment: Michael Puglisi goes whole pig at Picnik in Pasadena

Lifestyle and LeisureDining and DrinkingCookingRestaurantsBouchon

Michael Puglisi is the chef-butcher who is behind the sausages and cuts of roasted pork shoulder at Eduardo Ruiz’s Picnik in Pasadena and is soon to open his own Electric City Butcher Shop in Santa Ana. Puglisi, whose family is Sicilian, started cooking at a small bistro in upstate New York, then the Butchershop in Boston, learning the art of classic butchery and working his way up to head butcher. After helping to open the refurbished Fontainebleau resort in Miami Beach, he worked with chef Thomas Keller at Bouchon Beverly Hills, as lead butcher then executive sous-chef. Puglisi recently returned from a cooking apprenticeship in eastern Sicily and now consults at Picnik, where he’s making sausages such as merguez, spicy Italian, smoked onion and garlic jagerwurst and chorizo. Electric City Butcher Shop is expected to open later this year.

What’s coming up next on your menu?

Eddie Ruiz and I hope to soon be offering whole roasted pig’s feet and stuffed pig legs at Picnik. During a recent trip to Italy, I was inspired to learn that the soldiers of Emilia-Romagna were traditionally served this dish when they returned from war.

Latest ingredient obsession?

Whole pigs and offal. I’m all about how to reimagine uses for every part of the animal.

What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again?

Mitsuwa Marketplace. I take my 2-year-old daughter there at least once a week for ramen.

The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives?

My grinder. It’s my outlet to creativity as a butcher.

The last cookbook you read, and what inspired you to pick it up?

“Whole Beast Butchery” by Ryan Farr. He published the most recent book that defines whole animal butchery.

Picnik, 168 Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 793-8008, www.picnikpasadena.com. Electric City Butcher Shop, 4th Street Market, Santa Ana (opening this year).

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