Fire on the Mountain: Go Whole Hog in the Catskills this Saturday

Seventeen chefs are going whole hog cooking for Pig Mountain, a worth-the-trip upstate pork-and-more fest that you should hit this Saturday night.

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Right now, things in the Catskills are heating up — and I don’t mean the August weather.

I’m talking about earthen pits in which chefs from places like Casa Mono and Dickson’s Farmstand Meats are going whole hog cooking for Pig Mountain, a worth-the-trip upstate pork-and-more fest that you should hit this Saturday night. Tickets are just $35.

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Seventeen chefs will cook 16 pigs in preparations ranging from Ethoiopian to Kenyan to Japanese to Yucatan. Chef Sasso is going all red-sauce Italian, transforming his hog into everything from braciola to meatballs. A few are using smokers; others go underground – cooking in slate-lined Indian-style pits where the pigs, each wrapped in banana leaves and a wet burlap sack, cook for a full 24 hours. (Note to herbivores: the sides are killer too.)

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But Pig Mountain isn’t just about stuffing yourself. The project is the brainchild of Heather Carlucci, an award winning pastry chef who has rocked the ovens from Union Square Café to Print and is an activist for farmers’ rights and environmental causes. So much so that, with Hillary Baum, she co-founded Chefs for the Marcellus, which unites food industry pros (including many of our favorite chefs) against hydrofracking in our foodshed. Heather has a home in nearby North Branch and created this project to bring a yearly economic boost to the area. And boy does it work — the annual fest is expected to draw over 2,000 guests this Saturday, many of whom will make a weekend out of it. Proceeds go to the nearby Center for Discovery.

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It’s all made possible by the participating chefs who donate their time, cook around the clock and, when not tending the overnight fires, shack up together in 40 bunks at a nearby Boy Scout camp.

And while those pits are heating up, the weather will too, in a good way. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and be gorgeous Saturday.

When I reached Heather by phone today, she was in high gear and had to interrupt the call for a minute. Returning she said “ Sorry about that – someone just picked up their pig!”

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Photographs courtesy of Pig Mountain.

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Gabrielle Langholtz

Gabrielle Langholtz is the editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. Her background includes many projects at the intersection of gastronomy and ecology: She ran communications for the Greenmarket office, wrote the teacher's guide to Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire, worked on a Catskills vegetable farm, volunteered at The Edible Schoolyard and taught a food systems course at NYU. Now married to the head livestock farmer at the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, she has visited dozens of local farms, milked cows and sheep, played midwife to ewes, castrated piglets, tapped sugar maples, foraged ramps, got in the way of swarming bees, helped slaughter turkeys and has planted and picked more varieties of fruits and vegetables than most Americans eat in a lifetime—which admittedly isn’t saying much. While she wants to change the food system one reader/eater at a time, she prefers using carrots to sticks.

  • CommonSense

    If she is an activist for farmers’ rights and environmental causes then she should not support the slaughter or 16 sentient beings. Rather, she should be promoting plant based cooking. That will support the vegetable and fruit farmers and the environment.
    Raising animals for food causes more environmental destruction than all forms of transportation (cars, trucks, planes, boats) combined. Not to mention the pain, suffering and slaughter of an animal who is smarter than a dog and as smart as a three year old human chile.

  • SusanKayne

    BARBARIC, DISTURBING, CRUEL, UNCONSCIONABLE…….Pigs are the 4th most intelligent….more than dogs or retarded humans……a scientific fact whether you like it or not.