Taste and Tips from a Branch Technician
Alfonso Camassa, Alfonsino for friends is the classic character that you do not expect. Alfonsino is native to the deep South but the first time we met was in the bitter cold of the Far North, more precisely in Riva di Tures, at the first edition of WEST. Veterinary surgeon, member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon, once Vet Meat Hygiene Inspector at the Food Standards Agency, Employed now as veterinary surgeon in a private clinic with further function of Official Veterinary, one of the greatest Italian experts in the meat industry with participation in television programs and collaborations with important magazines: his resume is impressive and yet surprises for the extreme simplicity. The rapid evolution of his career led him to follow prestigious developments in England but he talks about it more as a life experience than a professional opportunity. It ‘s always been an active member of the Italian barbecue world, but he always did in his own way, discreet, on tiptoe, without ever pulling rank.
Alfonsino really is a character who deserves to be met. Here’s the opportunity.
You’re not an internal figure of the barbecue system in the strict sense of the term and yet your name is well known and held in high regard by all enthusiasts. How would you describe your relationship with our world?
If I have to think of a specific term or a metaphor for describe this, I could definitely say that at first I was a “mediator” or the link between the griller (pure nerd) and the meat sector (Old school traders). I can definitely say that, thanks to some partnerships with manufacturers and retail outlets, I made it clear to the two main parties that a new market was possible, with good benefits for all.
How much did this experience abroad enriched you professionally?
I can not quantify it. It does every day, under many points of view. Browse beyond our borders has always been my favorite hobby!
Do you see different approaches about eating beef from Italy and England?
Absolutely yes. Here there are very few butchers shops but really well laid out and attentive to quality throughout the supply chain. In supermarkets the quality (guaranteed and certified) of the offer is unimaginable. Just think that 100% of the beef consumed comes from females (heifers) and castrated males (steers) slaughtered at no less than 26 months. The beautiful skinny bulls which with Italian butchers fill the home of social networks do have no market here, if not in the fast food chains.
Do you have a favorite breed and which one is it?
Well this is a question a little bit indiscreet!!! Seriously, I have several that I’m passionate about:
CHAROLAISE: French race with a white cream mane, is among the most rustic of French beef breeds. the carcasses of the females are very harmonic in the balance muscle mass / fat mass;
PODOLICA: native breed of southern Italy, with ancestral gene. Poor muscle convexity carcass but females of all ages offer unforgettable flavor especially in long cooking.
RUBY RED or NORTH DEVON: English native breed, lightweight carcass (270 kg to 26 months of age), excellent distribution of muscle on trunk, high degree of marbling. The top that a griller can ask!
Is there an age that you deem suitable for the slaughter, in order to maximize the result on the grid?
The result on the grid is synonymous with results on the palate. It is certain that the bbq cooking even have biochemical effects in the composition, but I can not say that the age of an animal may affect, for better or for worse, in the result on grid.
What are the benefits of eating grass fed?
In fact it is not advantages, but peculiarities. An animal bred in grass fed rregime will present meat with less “free water”, increased shelf life, more omega3 fat acids and concentrated flavor in the fat pastures, being the aromatic substances (not the same aromatic as in organic chemistry, nb) lipophilic exclusively compounds.
Between the animal’s genetic characteristics and the environment of breeding / feeding what aspect do you believe affects more on the final taste of the meat?
With no doubt the “live” part of the animal: breeding, nutrition but also slaughter, storage and proces.
Tell us the name of the cut in your opinion the most overrated in the grid and the most underrated?
I have no idea about. The Italian Grillers are making giant steps gastroculturally speaking by honoring everything that a cow has to offer.
Basing on what features do you choose a steak in the time of purchase?
Fat: very marbled
Maturation: at least 21 days
Recently I had the fortune to taste your own selection arrived in Italy, and I was very impressed. Which do you think is its main added value?
Animals that I select and breed are all mixed blood of the British native breeds. Light carcasses with plenty but not excessive fat, exclusive Grass Fed. Nonetheless I believe that the added value is given by the wisdom of Master Butchers who wanted and was able to work these beasts, treating them in the right and unconventional way.
What are your plans for the future?
Keep on following my dreams…