Chefs are known to be adventurous eaters, and no one can argue the fact that offal is certainly adventurous. Many people wouldn't choose to eat pig brains, veal livers, or kidneys, but in certain circles they are all the rage. But for every perfectly prepared sweetbread that hits the table, there are plenty of offal dishes that are just plain out awful.
We asked some of Miami's favorite chefs their worst encounter with the trendy organ meats and they shared some funny, and cringeworthy, stories. Read below about their most awful offal experiences.
Norman Van Aken
"We were with a bunch of fellow Chefs in Mexico City around 1999. The famed French/Uber Chef Jean-Louis Palladin led us to a little taco stand near the Bull Fighting Arena. The place put the 'rude' back in 'rudimentary'. The specialty were bull's testicles. I watched in horror as a big shouldered señorita mashed down a set of two testicles with a hot spatula with too much pressure ... and the testicles actually burst."
Aaron Brooks - Edge Steak + Bar
"There was a time in Vancouver when I was dining at local Chinese restaurant. A good mate of mine was friends with the owners and would order all sorts of crazy stuff off the menu. This one time he ordered me a soup that he said would 'give me stamina'. Swiftly a bowl of hot broth scented with ginseng was placed in front of me swimming with chicken testicles. While the soup was delicious, consumption of the little gonads did make me a touch nauseous."
Danny Ganem - BLT Steak
"In Bolivia I had armadillo, piranha, cuy (which is a native rodent), and the worst thing that I have ever tried was llama tripe. It had this irony flavor plus it was chewy and also it was fried so it was a whole combination that made want to run to the bathroom ASAP."
Julian Baker - Toscana Divino
"On a visit to Sicily many things stand out from the freshest fishes to the amazing fruits and vegetables. The street food there is also amazing like the "Pani ca Meusa" a sandwich of spleen and lung held together with some wonderful caciocavallo cheese, or the "Stigghiole" the grilled lambs guts. So really if it's fresh and prepared well there nothing awful about Offal, if you can stomach it!"
Cesar Zapata - The Federal
"We love Yakko-San and when we go in, we normally ask for specials. This one time, chef suggested fermented squid liver. I like fermented and funky foods but this was weird. It resembled the appearance and texture of an earth worm, it tasted like liver times ten but with a dominant fish flavor and a salty finish. It was so unusual that I kept going in for more just to see if I would end up enjoying it, but I just didn't. The dish was definitely not for me."
Brad Kilgore - St. Regis
"I was invited to do a tasting menu on the house on the behalf of a very prominent chef in Chicago. The meal had some interesting cuts (i.e. veal brains and sweetbreads) but believe it or not the awful experience was with the foie gras. It was nearly burnt on one side and was cooked past well done. It was paired with a coffee gastrique and a sweet corn puree. My wife could not eat hers and I did not want to offend the chef that had invited us so, thankfully they paired it with an excellent Sauternes that I used to wash down the last few bites."
Giorgio Rapicavoli - Eating House
"The worst thing would be when I was like 14 and working at this Argentine butcher shop and they grilled some kidney for us. So gnarly. Not sure if it was the kidney or the cooking but it tasted like what I imagine eating a penny would taste like. That was the last time I ate kidney."
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