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While most locals love Quality Social first and foremost for the laid back party scene laced with highly addictive Pickle Back shots, we need not look over the man in the kitchen: Executive Chef Jared Van Camp. Here’s a tip: next time, cut the house held pre party in half and head out to Quality Social in time for dinner.
This now-local award-winning chef is renowned on a national level for his cutting-edge charcuterie program that uses the most progressive techniques to deliver what Van Camp best describes as a “beautiful rosy mosaic of meat”. You see, to Van Camp cooking is an art form, and his true masterpiece is charcuterie, which explains why he is the only San Diego chef state certified to receive whole pigs at the restaurant's kitchen door. Yep, seriously. No, that wasn’t your drunk friend stumbling around after one-too-many Pickle Backs; that was one of many legit whole hogs that Van Camp brings in before proceeding to utilize every single scrap from head to toe. The result? Delicious and incredibly fresh housemade Soppresatta, Pancetta, Prosciutto and much, much more. You think that’s impressive? Just wait ‘til he shows you the quartered pig tattoo on his left forearm… Now that is passion!
After studying under James Beard “Best Chef” winner Paul Kahan, among many culinary all-stars, Van Camp became executive chef for Old Town Social in Chicago. When the brand soon expanded to the West Coast to open Quality Social in San Diego in 2010, Van Camp was top choice to head the operation. Or, should I say behead? This former Mid-Westerner is now soaking up the sun on San Diego beaches and keeping us locals delightfully up to our ears in housemade hot dogs, duck wings, and his personal favorite, Carlsbad Aquafarms Oysters.
From how to manhandle a hog in style to why sustainability matters and what new 2011 foodie trends we can expect to see hit the Quality Social menu this spring, get to know Jared Van Camp in this week’s San Diego Chef Spotlight.
DiscoverSD: When did you first know you wanted to be a Chef?
Chef Jared Van Camp: I was in art school and had a depressing epiphany that I may not be able to make a living painting and sculpting. I decided that cooking would provide a great opportunity to travel and learn a new craft.
DSD: We hear you grew up in an eco-conscious family. What do your beliefs of sustainability mean to you, and how are you still applying them today at Quality Social?
Chef Jared: Sustainability usually involves a little extra effort. At Quality Social we go the extra step to purchase whole animals and do the butchering ourselves. By purchasing a whole animal it provides us with ability to use cuts of meat that would normally go to waste. It also is a more economical avenue for the business as long as you have the skill set to use every ounce of meat.
DSD: What are some of your favorite San Diego farms?
Chef Jared: Suzie’s Farm is my favorite. Once a week our staff goes to the farm to pick the produce that we’ll use in the restaurant.
DSD: In your opinion, what are the top new foodie trends for 2011?
Chef Jared: I see the trend of people craving unique and artisanal experiences continuing. Most people are not willing or don’t want to spend an arm and a leg for food, but they do desire food that is prepared with care and has some craft behind it.
DSD: You obviously take charcuterie very seriously. Tell us how you got involved in this culinary niche.
Chef Jared: It was something that interested me a lot when I first started cooking. Mainly because there wasn’t any information available on the subject. It’s very in vogue now and there have been a number of great books written on the subject since then, but back in the late nineties, chances are, if you asked a chef how to make a salami, chances are you’d get a blank stare. One of my favorite parts about making charcuterie is the alchemy that happens when you’re waiting in anticipation for salami to dry. A lot can go wrong and you won’t know until that great moment when you slice into a salami that’s been curing for 4-5 months and the beautiful rosy mosaic of meat and fat reveal themselves.
DSD: We wouldn’t even know what to do with a whole hog if it came and knocked on our door. Please share your favorite charcuterie techniques and how you became certified to receive whole pigs?
Chef Jared: Let’s start with head, Coppa di Testa, it’s an Italian version of head cheese. We’ll use one of the loins for a pork chop special and the other loin for a cured Lonza. One belly will be used for Pancetta and one for smoked bacon. Inside each shoulder is a singular muscle called the ‘coppa’, which is also the name of the preparation that we’ll use it for. The rest of the shoulder meat will be used for ground salamis such as Finnochiona, Soppresatta and Toscano salami. The hind legs, or hams, will be used for prosciutto and country ham. We’ll brine and smoke the hocks and feet for use in soups and BBQ sauce. All of the bones get used for stock. And we’ll take any excess skin, cook it, dehydrate it and fry it to make our Pork Rinds.
Read the rest of this Chef Spotlight interview on DiscoverSD.com.