US meat festival takes London by storm
Published:  16 September, 2013

Early September saw a tonne of locally sourced meat cooked up over fresh charcoal at the Tobacco Dock in London, for the launch of the one-day American-born meat festival Meatopia.

Visitors were presented with a range of meat cuts, including ox heart, hog belly, deck steak, pig’s head and other quality obscurities from well-known chefs.

Situated in the Tobacco Dock, which provided an ancient atmosphere, the festival also featured butchery demonstrations in the Cutting Room and live folk bands.

Chefs included Richard Turner from Hawksmoor, Fergus Henderson, Aaron Franklin, Gizzi Erskine, Neil Rankin, BBQ Shack and Pitt Cue, who all worked intently to serve the wide range of visitors eagerly queueing up. Turner said: “I’m blown away by the reception London gave Meatopia and am really looking forward to an even better event next year.”

Visitors were given a certain number of “meat bucks” upon arrival, depending on the ticket they held, which could be traded for either meat dishes or drinks.

Marcus Bawdon took the title as the King of Meatopia with his recipe for Dirty Tomahawk Steak after visitors were urged to submit pictures to enter the competition prior to the day.

As the evening continued, food eventually ran out, which was expected as the organisers had warned visitors that this could happen in advance.

Mid-festival, £50 steaks were thrown on egg-shaped barbecues to entertain visitors who were waiting for Richard Turner, who failed to show up to his own demonstration.

UK Meatopia creator Dan O’Neill said: “A sold-out show in the sunshine with 3,500 smiling people sharing personal experiences about the best chefs and the most exquisite BBQ creations on the planet. Throw in craft beer, bourbon and dancing and what do you have? Meatopia.”

Apart from the endless queues, change of programme and disorganised staff changing the prices of the cider as the afternoon continued, the festival was ideal for the genuine meat-lovers, but maybe not those who were merely there for the novelty of it.