FOUR QUESTIONS FOR CHEF KEVIN OUZTS
The courtly dish of Cockentrice was the turducken of the Middle Ages. This imaginative melding of a suckling pig and a capon allowed the chef to show off his culinary muscles to amused guests. The tenderness of the meats were similar and it worked to show the craft of its maker as well as satisfy the hunger of court revelers.
And just as that mythical “animal” on the plate, Atlanta Chef Kevin Ouzts’ newest venture, named after the historical dish, is as yet swathed in the mists of imagination. However, a decidedly 21st-century venture, the online site Kickstarter, is fueling Cockentrice into reality.
To learn a little more, I sat down with the esteemed butcher of Spotted Trotter, who is inspired by a wide range of influences, from his family members to his education at Le Cordon Bleu to stints under Chefs Linton Hopkins and Shaun Doty.
Why use Kickstarter?
KO: There are so many upsides to it. There is value in understanding that the community is helping building something. We [he is business partners with his wife Megan] are very loyal to the people that got us here, and that continues with this. We put our heart and soul into The Spotted Trotter, and this is no different. We’re investing in the community, and vice versa.
I’ve heard you say that you wouldn’t be at this point without having started at farmers markets. Can you explain?
KO: Direct customer feedback was such a value asset for growing our business. To hear, “Hey, I really liked that sausage,” or “I really liked that but it had a bit too much fennel for me” was awesome. It helped us not only define our market and our customers, but our products. That connection is essential.
How is running a food business in Atlanta?
KO: This is home, and we are really invested here, not just in the city, but the neighborhood. When we opened Spotted Trotter, we literally planted it in our home neighborhood—where we live—and it’s exciting that we’ve added around 20 jobs to Kirkwood. To me, this is the way small business is done, and it’s nice to live and work in the same community.
What do you see as the next step?
KO: There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on the processing side of things to close the supply chain loop. In Italy and the Midwest, I visited butcher facilities as big as schools. The South doesn’t have that. We need to pay attention to density and make sure that the farmers growing the animals the right way can find the high standard of processing they need to get it to the table.