Spotlight on Artisanal Products, Pat LaFrieda Talks Meat at Eataly – Shake Shack, National Hamburger Month

Eatlay La Scuola – Pat LaFrieda Talks Meat
Spotlight on Artisanal Products

Shake Shack
11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010

Day 17

Eating Burgers and drinking craft beer has made my life more amazing. If it wasn’t for my Glorious Pursuit of Delicious Burgers and role as the beer sommelier and at the bar I co-own, Idle Hands, I wouldn’t know the folks at LaFrieda Meats or my now co-workers at Thrillist. If I hadn’t come across Pat or helping to source programs for Thrillist Rewards, I would’ve never received an email from Cristina at Eataly with the following words; “you are all confirmed to attend Pat’s class next Tuesday, May 17th at 6:30pm.”

I guess I can say that life is good…and filled with meat.

Pat LaFrieda, a 4th generation butcher, whose family got into the business when his great Grandfather got into a fight at a butcher shop in Italy as a kid, owns and runs the most heralded Meat purveyor business in the nation. LaFrieda Meats is to what DefJam is to Hip Hop and here in NYC, that make Pat the Jay-Z of meat. Although neither of them invented the game, they definitely improved it all while helping to make New York an even better city.

LaFrieda Meats supplies all the meat available at Eataly, New York’s answer to the the Torino, Italy fresh-food market of the same name. Every so once in awhile, in the spare hour of time that he doesn’t have, Pat participates in in Eataly’s La Scuola “Spotlight on Artisanal Products” demonstration and cooking lessons. Tonight, Phil, Arshan and I from Thrillist were going to sit and enjoy the lesson and the food!

The event started off with a little anecdotal history of his family, his career as a butcher, his passion for high quality Meat and the story of the his very first client working for his father. That client, Mario Batali. As their relationship grew tighter and tighter, one day Pat got a call from him and said they needed to go to Torino, Italy to see a store called “Eataly” that Mario wanted to recreate in NYC. Long story short and millions of dollars later, Eataly opened and is the only “retail” location for LaFrieda Meats. As the night goes in, Pat fills in the blanks with stories about hunting at his Western New Jersey “place of refuge,” cooking for the local authorities and his passion for bow hunting. Interspersed among that are tips on scimitar knives, the importance of rubber gloves while cooking and the difference between old world and new world methods.

Pat is joined by Eataly executive Chef Alex Pilas who, once Pat butchers the various Meats, actually does the cooking and walks the room through the cooking process. He explains spicing, preparation and actual cooking theories as well as opinions on how to not overdue it with ingredients. They are joined by Dan Amatuzzi, Eataly’s Wine Director. Dan pairs each of the Meat courses with different Italian wines. He walks through the tasting notes of each wine as well as the theory behind each pairing. The entire class is very interactive and you are free to talk, ask questions and exchange opinions with the three of them.

Here is the official word from Eataly, on the event as well as the menu:

Class Description
You’ve heard his name, you’ve devoured his burger, now take his class.  Eataly has teamed up with Manhattan’s leading meat authority, Pat LaFrieda, to bring you one of the best butcher departments in town.  In this back to the basics class, Pat will discuss Beef, Pork, Veal and Lamb.  Pat will butcher various cuts of meat while Eataly’s chefs demonstrate delicious and classic recipes for you to taste.  Each dish will be perfectly paired with wine and class will be complete with recipes to take home.

Carne Cruda (Beef Crudo)
– paired with Monte Rossa Franciacorta “Prima Cuvee” Brut NV, Lombardia
Porchetta (Roast Pork)
– paired with Brandini Langhe Arneis 2010, Piemonte
Vitello Saltimbocca (Veal Saltimbocca)
– paired with Borgogno Barbera D’ Alba Superiore 2008, Piemonte
Agnello alla Scottadito (Lamb Chops)
– paired with Borgogno Barbera D’ Alba Superiore 2008, Piemonte

Pat LaFrieda owns and operates Pat LaFrieda Wholesale Meat Purveyors, a meat supplier in the West Village that was founded in 1922 by his grandfather, “the original Pat LaFrieda.” Pat was always drawn to the family business, helping out from the time he was in elementary school.  After a brief stint as a Wall Street stock broker (and with a degree in business to boot) Pat followed his namesake and committed himself to revitalizing his family’s company.  At the time, Pat and his father were the only butchers, his aunt handled the orders, and the business served under a hundred restaurants in the city; today the company has over a hundred employees and handles over 600 local accounts, as well as shipping to about a hundred restaurants along the East Coast.  Pat owes much of his company’s success to having fundamentally remained the sort of quirky, homespun operation that is increasingly endangered in New York City.


Carne Cruda (Beef Crudo)
While slicing up the cut of Meat, Pat spends a moment to reflect on the importance of immune system in eating raw Beef. Something like Tartar, is not for young children or the elderly who may have undeveloped or weakened immune systems. Once the Piedmontese Beef is sliced up, Chef Alex explained that the key to good Crudo is to keep the recipe simple and let the Beef own the taste of the dish. Shortly there after, you are eating the Crudo while Dan gives notes on the wine.

The very delicate seasoning allows you to taste the Beef just as the Meat Gods intended. It’s very lean, soft but not chewy, creamy rather than juicy and should be eaten in small bites so that you can enjoy each and every bite! The simplicity of the Beef presentation let’s the acidity in the sparking wine to pronounce itself.

Porchetta (Roast Pork)
LaFrieda gets all of their Pork from a USDA approved farm in Iowa. As Pat talks about the importance of the USDA he also explains the difficulties. They have to provide a desk and an office at all times for a USDA office who can come and go as they please. This helps to create and maintain the highest standards of quality and cleanliness. Pat also told us how important it is to him that he pays visits to every farm he is sourcing their meat from.

Porchetta is made by wrapping a fattier Pork Belly around a leaner Pork Loin and adding in a few simple spices in the middle. It’s roasted in an oven and in the end has a crispy outer shell around a ring of creamy and fatty Belly that reveals a leaner inner circle of Pork Loin. There’s a thing layer of spices to separate the inner two layers.  The fat melts into the loin adding more flavor to the entire dish. It’s an entrée full of juxtaposition, so try to make sure you get parts of both in every bite.  The wine is a little sharp on its own but in this pairing, the Pork neutralizes a lot of the wine’s spicier end.

Vitello Saltimbocca (Veal Saltimbocca)
Veal is very expensive due to the labor intensive nature of the butchering process as well as the manner in which the cows are raised. The real lesson here is in the butchering of the Meat. Keep the pounding of the Meat very light so as to not lose any of the juices. In fact, on our menu sheets it suggests asking the Eataly butchers to do this for you. Just before Pat hands the proverbial mic over to Alex he explained that Veal itself doesn’t have a lot of taste so it allows chef to bring flavor to it.

The Veal is so thin that it only needs to be cooked on one side and Alex has it cooked up in minutes. While he was frying it up in the pan, I tried out the first red wine of the evening. I’m not much of a white wine fan so I spent a little more time smelling and tasting this very soft and velvety wine. Likewise, I’m not much of a Veal so I wasn’t particularly excited for what we were about to eat.


This dish was simply amazing. The flavor profile is so succulent and very savory. Salt haters be warned, this is not for you. The Crispy prosciutto really overtakes the subtle taste of the veal and almost becomes the star of the show. If you eat it slow in enough and in stride, you’ll taste all the that it has to offer and realize the Prosciutto really needs the Veal and the blanched Sage to make this what it is. As for the pairing, the Veal knocks out the middle of the wine letting you really taste the spices and acidity. The buttery flavor literally disappears under the weight of the Meat. The mouth feel on this is great. It’s very thin, easy to cut and melts into your mouth after it’s flavors are done exploding. Pat and Alex may have changed my mind on Veal.

Agnello alla Scottadito (Lamb Chops)
While I was still enjoying the delicious Veal dish, Pat had moved onto the Lamb. He explained what it means to French the meat which is essentially removing the fat and membranes from between the bones. This is done by finer dining restaurants soley for look and appeal. This is where the passion in Pat’s voice really, really kicked in. This guy seriously loves Lamb and whenever a restaurant orders there Lamb Frenched, that means that Pat and crew are going to have a great dinner at home. Whether it’s using these “Lamb Fingers” or the cap for Bolognaise or grinding it up for Burgers, you can tell that this guy loves his Lamb. Apparrently Pat isn’t the only one as he went on to call ground Lamb “the new black” as far as popularity in making Burgers here in NYC. Phil asked Pat what was his favorite Lamb Burger in New York to which he answered, The Breslin.
Talk about food porn! Wow. Cutting into the Chops revealed a perfectly cooked-medium rare that had me snapping off about a dozen photos in an attempt to truly capture the visual pleasures of this dish. It’s served in a lightly used sweet browning sauce that balances with the  deep and rich Meat flavors. I absolutely loved the sparsely used crispy salt and pepper coating. It’s savory nature cuts apart your taste buds making room for the the extremely juicy and succulent piece of lamb beneath. These tastes will be lingering with you for a few minutes. It was so good that I almost forgot the pair the wine! While it was a good pairing and a great wine, its almost a sin to pair with the wine because the flavors in the meat are just so good!

Eataly’s Spotlight on Artisanal Products “Pat LaFrieda Talks Meat” program was not only the most delicious cooking class I have ever participated in it, it was also the most fun, the most sensational and the most interactive. Rumor has it, Pat switches up the Meat they prepare with every class. This begs the question, how much is a season pass and where can I get one?!??!

So yeah, what about that whole “31 Burgers in 31 days for National Hamburger Month,” that I am doing. Despite LaFrieda’s reputation for supplying the meat for some of the cities most sought after Burgers, there were none on the menu this evening. Hamburgers just aren’t a part of the regular Italian diet and not something you would normally find on a menu in the country. Respect due, but what was I supposed to do? Rely on Phil from Thrillist that is, who demanded we walk across the street from Eataly and eat at the Shake Shack.

What better Burger to cap off a Pat LaFrieda meat adventure with than the one that was crowned “the best” at Rachel Ray’s Blue Moon Burger Bash! The three of us marched over to Madison Square Park, placed our orders and parked our butts in chairs while we waited for our Shack Burgers to be ready. Thank you Phil, thank you. Kudos for you to keeping me on track at the halfway mark. Way to step it up buddy.

What makes it even more appropriate is that the Shake Shack opened their newest location today in Washington DC. Of course, you can read about that on Thrillist. What a great company.

For my full review on the Shake Shack, one of the best Burgers in NYC, read this post.

8 out of 10 ounces

387 Burgers

May 17, 2011 – 8:58 pm

The Rev Meter for Social Community
The Rev Meter” is a social community meter for assessing how optimized a bar or restaurant is with social networking. By taking what he considers to be the 10 most important social networks and creating a point system, The Rev can accurately asses how well the business is using social networking as a tool. His goal here is to educate and assist great business to better effectively use these tools

The original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park scores a 4 on The Rev Meter.

4 points or less    You’ve missed the 5 basics and are less than optimized
5 points                 You’ve covered the basics, which is better than most but far from optimized.
6 to 9 points        You’re doing better than most and on your way to becoming a well respected social community whiz.
10 points              Congrats on a perfect score! Are you hiring?


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2 Responses to Spotlight on Artisanal Products, Pat LaFrieda Talks Meat at Eataly – Shake Shack, National Hamburger Month

  1. Pingback: Pat LaFrieda’s Big App for Meat iPad App – The Next Best Thing To Eating Meat Is Staring At Glorious Pictures of Meat | Burger Conquest

  2. Pingback: Custom Burgers By Pat LaFrieda – Screw Barth, Fly Delta | Burger Conquest

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