Tuesdays are breakdown days at Saucisson. This means that butchers Melissa Khoury and Penny Barend are at Katz Club Diner, where they currently rent prep space until they move into their new home in Slavic Village, making into sausage what was only hours earlier a whole hog.
If you find a certain magic in these thoughtful farm-to-plate practices, you're not alone. Khoury and Barend's sausage-making process is just one of many butchering techniques they've been teaching in workshops throughout the city since establishing themselves.
Demand for instructional food-based workshops such as those led by Saucisson is high, and more options abound for the curious student than ever.
"Just as people are more interested in learning where their food is coming from, people are getting back to the idea of 'My grandparents used to do this but I missed it, and I'm thinking about starting,'" says Khoury.
The larger butcher shop in Slavic Village will allow for a more varied curriculum, such as a customizable Butcher For a Day program. Saucisson has schooled everyone from professional chefs who've never broken down a whole hog to a gentleman who wanted to learn to make terrines.
Trevor Clatterbuck saw a similar disparity between ingredients and home-cook know-how when he started Fresh Fork Market (freshforkmarket.com) in 2008. After launching each new season with a whole chicken, he received pushback from customers unsure of how to utilize every part.
"I knew the solution must be tips and tricks that weren't making it from commercial kitchens into the home," explains Clatterbuck.
Enlisting the help of Parker Bosley and other guest chefs, Clatterbuck has led an average of 25 classes per year, often filling the lower level of Market Garden Brewery. Attendees receive an instructional booklet, demos and dinner while learning about everything from vegetable braising and vegan cooking to canning and grilling.
Not coincidentally, the first class of the season is Chicken 101. Following a demo on quartering and deboning, Clatterbuck and Bosley "clear the tables and give everyone a knife, a cutting board and a chicken and make everyone do it themselves."
That hands-on approach also has been adopted by Aaron Powell, founder of Bearded Buch (beardedbuch.com) kombucha.
"I think it has a lot to do with the grow-your-own food movement," says Powell. "They're realizing brewing kombucha isn't a complicated science project that they can't do."
It's not just butchering and beverage making that's seeing an upswing, but boozy confections too. The Bom (thebom.us) host workshops to infuse truffles with whatever poison (or juice) is behind the bar wherever they set up shop — places like John Christ Winery or the lounge at the Aloft hotel — or as provided by the attendees at private parties.
"Someone recently told us to try espresso vodka because they're a coffee drinker and people love it," says creator Carolina Martin. "It continues to take on a life of its own."
Like Bom's sweet seminars and Saucisson's personalized classes, Kelli Hanley Potts also has seen a rise in specialized courses. She started the Agrarian Collective (theaccle.com) in 2013 to bring her culinary teachings full circle around four areas of study: garden, kitchen, pantry and table.
She's partnered with Urban Orchard flower shop, Edible Cleveland, Cleveland Flea and the Slovenian National Home to lead classes on everything from table décor to how to plant seeds in the spring. This year, she'll host workshops on pies and soups and stews. Like others, her goal is to demystify the kitchen one class at a time.
"There are all these buzzwords and we're trying to present it in a way that becomes accessible for the everyday person," says Potts. "We want to break down those barriers."