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Sausage as a canvas

MIGUEL Gianan’s card says “Professional Carnivore.” With a job title like that, one has to trust the chef of One World Butchers.

One World Butchers had a street party at the Poblacion, Makati block occupied by some of their restaurants last month. A few steps away was Sawsaw, their concept with chef Sau del Rosario. One World Butchers is owned by PYC Foods Corp., under the Tao Corp. group founded by Julio “Jun” Sy. Its siblings include Pardon My French and the One World Kitchen and Deli.

During the street party, grills fired up sausages from all over the world: think slim and pale German Nürnbergers (allegedly a favorite of Goethe) with pork flavored with marjoram, and English Cumberland coil sausage, thick with pork and spiraling around itself and flavored with different spices and herbs. Mr. Gianan made sure the Philippines was equally represented, with a Sisig sausage made from pork mask, pork, liver, and Knorr seasoning. While the origins are international, the sausages themselves are made by Mr. Gianan and his team in a commissary on-site (which can be viewed through a window, despite the aphorism about sausage making — “Anyone who loves the law or sausages should never watch either being made”). The meats are sourced from all over the world through the Butchers’ sister companies. That makes for a smooth operation.

But Mr. Gianan doesn’t exactly like it smooth. He told BusinessWorld during an interview how he doesn’t like his sausages as finely ground as hotdogs. “Country-style, not fine, with specks of meat,” was how he described his sausages.

Frankly (get it?), we don’t see how one can be so creative with sausage. It’s just ground meat with seasonings, but in Mr. Gianan’s hands, sausage skins encase more than meat but memory. The sausage thus becomes akin to an artist’s canvas. He recalls making pizza sausage while watching his parents eat pizza (while he was thinking of sausage concepts), and another sausage was born while he watched his parents eat Mexican food.  “I can express how I eat, the concept that I want to have,” he said.

The memories held in meat go back to his training with the late master German butcher Michael Beck, who opened Mickey’s Deli in Manila almost 15 years ago. “He introduced me to charcuterie, cold cuts, hams, and all that. I enjoyed that stay, I enjoyed being the kitchen chef. When he passed away, when I was working with meats again, I was craving for the best sausages,” said Mr. Gianan.

“From memory, I recreated his style of sausage,” he said.

More than fond memory, obviously, what was passed down to him was technical skill and knowledge of the meat. For example, while sausages were a way to preserve meat in the days before refrigeration, Mr. Gianan makes his sausages fresh every day. “To have the snap, the flavor, and it’s not frozen.”

The commissary has a walk-in chiller with meticulous temperature controls. “In sausage-making, temperature is key,” he said. “If you freeze a sausage, the fat and the meat will break down.”

“At a certain temperature, meat can bind with fat. If you f**k up (he apologizes) the temperature, you can’t have a nice sausage.”

From cooling, we go to grilling. Mr. Gianan showed off his asador grill, fed with wood and charcoal. It smokes and grills the meat at the same time, imparting a smoky flavor to everything it touches. “Wood. Macho,” he said, trying to describe the flavor. “If you cook it slow, the meat gets tender, juicier,” he said, pointing to the steaks and the porkchops also served that evening.

We go back to his card, and how he got the title of Professional Carnivore. “I work with meat, and I love meat so much.”

One World Butchers is located at 8491 Kalayaan Ave. corner Matilde St., Makati. Store hours are from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to midnight, Thursday to Saturday. For reservations, contact 0917-823-6631. — Joseph L. Garcia