A man off the street walks through the open door of the building at 2618 Guinotte Ave. and sizes up the room.
BY JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
The Kansas City Star
The butcher case is still empty, but on one side of the room a stylized pig graphic delineates the common cuts. On the other side, a 1920s reproduction map indicates the farms where the meat will come from.
Can I help you? asks Alex Pope, chef/owner of Local Pig (thelocalpig.com, and on Facebook and Twitter), a cutting-edge nose-to-tail butcher shop and charcuterie in the industrial East Bottoms near Knuckleheads Saloon, a live music venue.
Just checking it out, says the man, who lives in the neighborhood and used to get his mail at the former post office. His brother was a firefighter who worked from the funky slanted red brick building on the corner across the street. How often do these trips down memory lane happen?
At least four people a day, Pope says good-naturedly. Theres a lot of history in this building.
Pope opened Local Pig last month. The shop offers humanely and locally raised beef, pork, lamb, goat, chicken and duck, as well as guanciale (cured pork jowl), cappicola (an Italian cold cut often served on antipasto trays) and head cheese. He puts together CSA (community supported agriculture) butchers boxes ($70 weekly or $75 biweekly), along with such dinner amenities as chef-made stock and pickles, raw honey, truffles, local eggs, whole spices and custom seasoning blends.
The idea for Local Pig is something hes been kicking around for years. Since the first day of culinary school I just ate it up, Pope says. Every job Ive had Ive wanted to bring in whole animals, and I have done charcuterie. The goal is to eventually be 100 percent local and have things you cant get at the grocery store.
Should you need a recipe for a particular cut of meat, Pope has stacks of them from his previous chef jobs, which include sous chef at the American Restaurant and executive chef of the R Bar, with stints at the underground dining club Test Kitchen and Vagabond, his pop-up restaurant concept. If he doesnt have what you need, his favorite reference cookbooks line the shelves. He also plans to offer classes.
GPS turns out to be less than reliable in the East Bottoms, but an occasional trip off the beaten path is not necessarily a bad thing. Kansas City seems ready to embrace new ideas, Pope says.