The crowds and lines of Burger Bash were mostly absent Saturday night as the sands of South Beach were dominated by the ceaseless devouring of the animal kingdom.
Crazed festival goers, still ravenous but clearly weary after days of excess, tore into animal hearts, rabbits, goats, and lambs. The constant singe of burning fat thickened the air with teary smoke, but no one cared. Instead, they quelled their concerns about the butchery with a never-ending river of bourbon.
So the question is, what kind heartless, maniacal chef does it take to spin whole beasts into plates worthy of a party like Meatopia?
"I need someone with gravy in their blood and lard on their minds," said Josh Ozersky, Esquire magazine's restaurant editor and Meatopia's longtime curator.
"I want as many flavor profiles as possible," he added. "Meatopia is an evangelical movement to teach people to love meat as much as I do."
But to love meat, is to love every part of the beast, even the sinewy, minerally, chewy bits that too many Americans avoid.
Chris Hastings of Birmingham, Alabama's Hot and Hot Fish Club passed over the rib-eye, and instead opted for a bouquet veal, lamb and chicken hearts garnished with edible flowers, a smokey harissa and fried chestnuts.
Jonathon Sawyer of Cleveland's Greenhouse Tavern (who along with his sous went barefoot in the sand) offered up beef tendon and tripe atop homemade masa fritos and mashed pork belly.
The most beloved stand of the night was the Feast of the Seven Beast by Jim 'n Nick's Community Barbecue out of South Carolina. Huge racks of rotating chickens, ducks, rabbits, and goats garnered a line that stood up to even that of the bleached wonder, Guy Fieri.
Still, it was Proper Sausage's Freddy Kaufmann who put the night in perspective, asking how such a celebration of carnivorism could be used to propel restaurants and diners to demand humanely raised meat that isn't pumped full of hormones and GMO feed.
"Are we going to get to a place where we start to eat real meat, or is it going to be commoditized, mass-produced stuff forever?" he said.
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