This Is How Dario Cecchini Says You Can Spot A Good Butcher - Exclusive

It's not an overstatement to say that Dario Cecchini is a living legend. As an 8th-generation Italian butcher, he had long espoused the artisan values of meat mongering, going so far as to once hold a mock funeral for Bistecca allá Florentina when regulations around sourcing the steak changed. So, when Cecchini gives you tips on how to spot a good butcher, you listen.

Ahead of his Taste of Italy dinner at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Tasting Table had the opportunity to speak with Dario Cecchini in an exclusive interview. While full of great perspective, the Italian butcher left us with one philosophical piece of advice to heed. The butcher to look for is the "one who really tries to encourage their clients to try every part [of the cow] in the best way possible," said Cecchini. "If they only have filets and people's steaks in their counter, then they're just business. At that point, industry has stepped in, and you're not talking to an artesian butcher."

Looking for artisan butchers

Thanks to figures like Dario Cecchini and England's Fergus Henderson, nose-to-tail cooking has grown to become an integral point of culinary focus. As they and other butchers continue to push the movement forward, the perception of underutilized cuts — like offal, bone marrow, beef knuckle, and even tasty but under-the-radar steaks like flat iron — continues to grow. Supermarkets can be a poor place to find these extra cuts, so begin by searching your locality for small-scall butchers. When visiting them, scan the case for cuts of meat like tongue or under-blade steak.

Finding a butcher who sells these off-cuts (especially organ meat) can serve home cooks in multiple ways. Not only do less popular pieces of meat often have fresher culinary flavors to explore, but they can also increase the sustainability of purchasing meat by decreasing the amount of food waste from a single butchered animal. Plus, non-industrial cuts of meat can shrink the overall cost of your animal protein bill. (Crucial in a time of heightened food inflation). 

It's practical advice to look beyond the filet mignon, but Cecchini also has some philosophical suggestions for finding an artisan butcher. "Look for a butcher who is passionate about what they do," he said. "Look your butcher in their eyes, they say that the eyes are the mirror of the heart."

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival runs from February 22-25. You can purchase tickets here.