Chef Jesse GriffithsAug 22nd, 2015 | By Cecilia | Category: guest bio, the show
Jesse Griffiths: : Owner Dai Due Butcher Shop Austin; Cookbook Author; Nominee for Food & Wine Best New Chef 2011; and Austin’s Local Hero, 2010.
Chef Jesse Griffiths has been hunting for only eight years. “We didn’t have hunters in my immediate family, but we did have anglers,” the Denton, Texas native said. Griffiths, an only child, grew up fishing, but always had a yearning to go afield.
Without a mentor, Griffiths turned to the Internet. “I read everything I could find on websites and forums. I asked questions. I analyzed information and techniques. I just educated myself,” he said.
As he tells it, the worst thing that could possibly have happened to a first time hunter happened to him during dove season five years ago: “I took aim at the first dove that flew up, and I hit it with a single shot from my 20-guage! Then I missed the next fifty. That first shot had a million to one odds, but it hooked me.”
Griffiths is also a self taught cook. At 16 years old, he had his first restaurant job in Denton, and says he learned from everyone on the line. By the time he was 21 he was cooking professionally, and never looked back.
The cooking that gave him the biggest thrill early on was preparing the fish he had harvested. “I wouldn’t even accept fish from friends who offered, because I only wanted to cook the ones I caught,” he laughed. “I guess I really liked the feeling of being so intimately connected to the source of my food.”
Griffiths, with his wife Tamara Mayfield, own and operate Dai Due Butcher Shop and Supper Club; the businesses focus on traditional, local and sustainable approaches to food in the Central Texas region. He works with and only serves locally sourced produce, meat and dairy.
In addition to selling artisanal meats, condiments, and preserves at farmers’ markets, he’s fed hundreds of people at his supper clubs, and has in the last three years offered deer and hog schools at the Madroño Ranch in Medina, Texas. “I felt there was a need for this kind of intensive immersion, and I was right. The response has been huge!” With a tone of urgency, he added, “People know how to hunt and almost categorically don’t know what to do with the meat afterwards.”
Griffiths believes it is critical to teach people who have spent time and money hunting and harvesting these animals how to care for them in the field and in the kitchen. “We have a culture of hunting game, but not of eating game. These people know they want to eat what they harvest, but not how to go about it.”
With Jesse’s new book, Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish, published by Welcome Books, more people will be able to share his dream.