offal

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Chris Cosentino and staff

I heard him before I saw him. I was trying to find how to get into Incanto in San Francisco to interview Chef Chris Cosentino for my radio program Chef’s Story, which airs on Heritage Radio Network. The restaurant’s door was locked and there was not an obvious side door. I spied someone smoking and thought, that must be a restaurant worker…and lo and behold it was. And the door right near them had a staircase going into the basement. Halfway down the stairs I heard the booming voice. “that’s it…slice it slowly..that’s it.” I couldn’t believe at five in the evening, a star chef like Chris was actually in the kitchen prepping with his staff.

He gave me a big hello but asked if I could wait, he had to get his staff through family meal. I was happy to wait. And it was an education. Chris Cosentino’s passion just explodes in his kitchen. It is so raw and honest, all you can do is smile. I heard him talk about the night’s menu to the waitstaff. He had them tasting. He was as good a teacher as I have ever seen. And I was lusting for their food.

Incanto and Chris are known for offal, in fact Chris even has his own website Offal Good, where you can learn more about Chris and offal. At Incanto, you can get pulverized tuna heart, crudo cow stomach muscle, lamb’s liver. Chris refuses to throw away any part of an animal, it’s the whole animal philosophy….and he butchers them all himself.

Incanto is in a class of its own. Cosentino is a gift…and his philosophy is infectious. You got to love him. (That’s Chris in glasses leaning against the wall).

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Chris Cosentino

Am I speaking Filipino? No, actually it’s Japanese, a la Chef Chris Cosentino. I had the privileged delight of eating at Incanto last week while I attended the IACP Conference in San Francisco. Chris is the wildly talented chef/owner of this restaurant and holds offal (innards), dear to his heart.

Mino Crudo

The menu is an adventure. The above mentioned and pictured mino is actually a lining between the two stomachs of a cow. It is a delicacy that Chris experienced in Japan, which he learned could be imported to the U.S. It’s a tripe that doesn’t touch food since it isn’t in the stomach per se. It is thinner and more delicate and thus able to be served crudo or raw. He seasoned it superbly with sesame oil, green onion and a touch of chile (I think!). Doesn’t sound it, but it was yummy! He also brought out another Japanese surprise, dried tuna heart. Yes, you heard right, tuna heart. He grated it over some scrumptious, delicate pasta. It was reminiscent of bottarga but more earthy.

Dried Tuna Heart

Our good friend, Harpreet, who shared this dining adventure with us, brought along a 100-point Pinot Noir, Kosta Browne. I will tell you, it was an evening I will never forget! If you are a foodie, Incanto has to be on your bucket list.

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