With his peroxided faux-hawk, red-and-white-checked sneakers and many tattoos—including a 19th-century British butcher’s diagram of a hog carcass—Chris Cosentino doesn’t look like a traditionalist. But the chef at San Francisco’s Incanto wants people to think about meat in a preindustrial way, to value the organs and marrow bones as much as the steaks and chops. Several years ago, while lending a hand with the slaughter at a livestock farm, he underwent a kind of conversion. “I’d worked in places where we never got whole animals; we served only beef tenderloins. But when you’ve just killed an animal, and you’re about to throw away 45 percent of it, you realize you owe it to the animal to eat as much of it as possible,” he says.
© Cedric Angeles
Today the chef has come to the foothills of California’s Mount Shasta, where the Prather (pronounced pray-ther) Ranch matches his dedication to nose-to-tail eating with its humane animal husbandry, responsible land stewardship and excellent meat. Incanto (Italian for “enchantment”) was the ranch’s first restaurant customer; Cosentino has come to serve his friends a “cowboy picnic” the likes of which few cowboys have ever experienced. Along with rustic Italian side dishes like those he serves at the restaurant, Cosentino plans a generous mixed grill of some favorite cuts, from Prather rib eyes to his own Italian sausages. (This summer he is opening Boccalone, a salumeria in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, to sell his line of cured sausages.)
To build a fire, Cosentino recruits three friends—Doug Stonebreaker, Steve McCarthy and Mark Keller, co-owners of the Prather Ranch Meat Company (and fellow purveyors at the Ferry Building). As they pile on fig branches and oak, two of the owners of Prather Ranch, 92-year-old grocery baron Walter Ralphs and his wife, Colleen, chat in the shade with Michael Recchiuti, the San Francisco chocolatier, and his wife, Jacky. Cosentino’s own wife, Tatiana, watches in amusement as their towheaded son, Easton, darts around all the long legs.