La Sagra del Maiale:
A Whole Hog Demonstration & Dinner at Soul Food Farm
Saturday, July 14th

The nearly two years I lived in Italy in the early oughts shaped and inspired my approach to cooking and life as much as anything. I was extremely fortunate to have several people take me under their respective wings and teach me about Italian food history, traditions, and culture, but no relationship was as meaningful as the one I developed with Dario Cecchini, who welcomed me into his shop and his family with open arms.

Dario, the charismatic butcher profiled in Bill Buford's Heat, continues to inspire me daily with his commitment to his craft, to community and to preserving Tuscan food and cultural traditions. His incredible generosity takes many forms, but none so important as the way he mentors aspiring cooks and butchers. Over the years, Dario has had a long line of students and protégés in Italy, but he's also taught and encouraged many of our own favorite local butchers here in the Bay Area to invest in this craft. One of the his earliest students, Riccardo Ricci has been with Dario since he was practically a kid. Now a seasoned butcher in his own right, he's coming to the Bay Area for a visit and a series of events.

When Chris from Avedano's and Alexis from Soul Food Farm asked me to participate in a butchery demonstration and dinner with Riccardo on the farm, I leapt at the chance. I haven't been back to Italy in far too many years, so any time Dario or one of his butchers comes to town, I track them down so we can share a meal together. This time, I get to cook with Riccardo! Inspired by the traditional Italian sagra, or outdoor feast celebrating the season's bounty, we're throwing a Sagra del Maiale in honor of the glorious, versatile pig.

photo: peden+munk
Riccardo Ricci of Antica Macelleria Cecchini, joined by Chris Arentz of Avedano's and John Fink of The Whole Beast will perform a whole hog butchery demonstration and showcase several of Dario's most beloved recipes. Each guest will receive a handout describing the cuts and recipes to keep and take home. After the butchery and cooking demo, Riccardo and Chris will answer any questions that may have arisen.

As the sun sets, you'll be seated at farm tables and enjoy a family-style dinner featuring all of Dario's classic pork dishes, including tonno del Chianti, fresh garlic sausages, and of course arista in porchetta. Using produce from the farm and other nearby purveyors, I'll be doing what I love to do most--making piles and piles of salads and fresh summer vegetable dishes to pass around. I'm even trying to cajole one of my baker friends into making us some special loaves inspired by Tuscan flavors for the feast. We'll serve bright, acidic wines to keep things fresh, and when the sun gives way to stars and a waning moon we'll pass out platters of biscotti and vin santo brought over from Italy by Riccardo before sweetly bidding you goodnight.


WHO: Riccardo Ricci, Chris Arentz, John Fink, Alexis Koefoed & me
WHAT: La Sagra del Maiale: A Whole Hog Demonstration & Dinner at Soul Food Farm
WHERE: Soul Food Farm// 6046 Pleasants Valley Road// Vacaville, CA 95688
WHEN: Saturday, July 14th from 5-10pm
WHY: To have endless, delicious fun with our friend visiting from Italy, and to share it with you!
HOW MUCH: $185 per person, includes butchery demonstration, recipe booklet, five-course family-style dinner, abundant wine (tax & gratuity included)
TO RESERVE: call or email Alexis at (707) 365-1798 or soulfoodfarm@gmail.com

Tickets will sell out as we are limiting this event to 30 people, so reserve soon!


  1. Nick in New York6/14/2012 12:05 PM

    I so wish I could attend!!!

  2. Gaaaah this sounds so amazing - if I were in the Bay Area I would be there!

  3. Samin-Fantastico, complimenti. Peccato che sará dall'altra parte...Bacini Grandi