Porks & Knives 2015: Oct 27 & Oct 29-31

Kari Underly overhead group4 Days of the Pig: From Slaughter to Butchery and Beyond

A Martha’s Vineyard Culinary Adventure

Animals are the landscape of American agriculture. Our society is moving closer to a ‘slow’ and fair methodology for raising and procuring ingredients for our respective tables. A major experience that most of us might never encounter first-hand is to raise an animal and transform our livestock to our next meal. Not only do animals provide us with food and fiber, but they recycle nutrients into our soil. As factory farming has replaced this beautiful and natural balance, we have distanced ourselves from this way of life.  Likewise we have lost the ability to grow, forage, and process our meats.

This four day experience is designed to reconnect and nurture the most basic techniques that have been, in some way, a part of every human culture for centuries. Join us as we return to our agricultural roots in a beautiful setting beside farm and sea.

Open to professionals and amateurs alike, the object of the week is to bring people closer to locally raised animals and to build a gateway of accessibility to these ancient traditions. Coursework will cover farm tour, dinner with farmers and chefs, and hands on kitchen work. We will learn about heritage breed pigs, slaughter, primal cuts, curing and smoking.


This workshop is an opportunity to work side by side with farmers and professional butchers while sharing passions and challenges. Every day begins with our farm eggs, bacon, and greens and ends with a meal around the table sharing our days accomplishments. Laughter is guaranteed!

Participants will also be taken to different island farms for dinners as well as observe local operations of farmers raising sheep, goats, geese, chickens, dairy cows and more. Conversations over dinner will be around the challenges of farm to table procuring as well as highlights.

Tuesday Oct 27th – OPTIONAL/a la carte Slaughter Day

This is an optional/extra day you are welcome to participate in. After gathering our eggs from our chickens, participants will gather and participate in farm slaughter where we will learn how to bleed, gut and process Large Black Berkshire Pigs which have been pastured on kitchen scraps, acorns, and organic grain.  We  will demonstrate how to preserve the blood, remove the offal, and brine the heads. The afternoon will be a demonstration of Primals and Butcher basic cuts. Each participant will produce his or her own cut sheet planning for the following days.

Wednesday Oct 28th – Free Day

Day 1: Thursday Oct 29th – Break, De-bone, Head Cheese, Lard and Smoking

Demonstration of complete breakdown of a whole hog. Participants will roll up their sleeve and begin to breakdown the animals from their whole state into smaller sections and muscle groups that are specifically tied to a variety of preparations. Primal cuts will be broken down into sub-primals and de-boned. Head cheese will be cooked, and we will begin to cure and make stocks and lard.

_MG_0264All will enjoy dinner with chefs and farmers from Martha’s Vineyard. Past participants have agreed this is the highlight of the week – this is where we share wine and lore, challenges of bringing local food to the table, and our common love of land & food.

Day 2: Friday Oct 30th – Grinding, Terrines and Smoking

We will grind, assemble all the odd bits into beautiful terrines.  We will address ways to use the highest quality meats with the most cost-effective menus.  Grinding techniques and brining, and  preparing meats for smoking will be covered. A whole hog will be smoked for our Local Pig Out Dinner.

Swine & Dine: Local Pig Out

We will end our second day with our Local Pig Out extravaganza! This event is a wonderful opportunity to meet the local farming community, as well as relish in deliciously prepared, homestyle food. You will have the opportunity to enjoy live country music, delicious local beer, and local pork smoked all day. This is a family friendly event!

Day 3: Saturday Oct 31st
Farm Tour and “behind the scenes” Kitchen Tours 8:30am-2:30pm

Our day begins with farm eggs and bacon in Menemsha. We will then tour a wholesale and retail fish market in historic Menemsha. This is where fishing lore, legend and tales began. We have some great tales to share and will hear a few right from the mouths of our local legends. Hear the stories behind the fishing industry and the challenges we face in preserving our gifts from the sea. We will enjoy breakfast with some of the saltiest dogs of the Vineyard. We will enjoy a “behind the scenes” tour of the Homeport Restaurant and the Beach Plum Inn where we will meet the chefs and hear their challenges and rewards of being chefs in seasonal operations. Then we will head to a farm for a farm tour and lunch. We will meet the family, and experience a behind the life of family, farm and business.

After lunch we will head out to an oyster farm on Katama Bay. We will visit the oyster farm, learn about the history of shellfish, the decline of the industry and the environmental impacts of this growing industry. We will compare oysters harvested within the same water, grown under different conditions, and have our fill of fresh shucked oysters!

Day 3 Evening Event – Swine & Dine: Heritage Pork Grand Gala

Our second special event of the day is our Celebration of Heritage Pigs. This Five-Course, Grand Gala Dinner paired with wine at The Beach Plum Inn is the culmination of all the hard work put in by our participants, local farmers, and teachers. This speakeasy event highlights the work and experiences that Porks & Knives strives to provide.

  • Jan will discuss in-depth raising heritage breed pigs, as well as the importance of upholding heritage traditions in a rich agricultural community.
  • Nathan will explore and explain the process of butchering and preparing humanely raised pigs on a professional level. They will overview what we have learned, expand on the importance of whole animal meat production, and discuss healthy portions and cuts the modern consumer might not be familiar with.

The Grand Gala is attended by local chefs, conscious carnivores, and farmers alike, and acts as the perfect wrap-up to our four day journey. It is meant not only to celebrate our bounty, but through an active dialogue re-instill the hands-on lessons we have learned.


Tuesday, October 27
OPTIONAL/Slaughter Day (Priced Separately)



Thursday-Saturday, October 29-31
Includes Porks & Knives + ALL Farm Tours & Meals





Jan Buhrman_MG_9878

Jan stumbled into the pig rearing business 16 years ago through necessity and sustainability. She realized that the kitchen scraps from her catering business needed an outlet and pigs were the perfect solution. So Jan, and her husband Rich, began to raise heritage breeds.

After leaving professional slaughter facilities, dismayed with their inhuman standards, Jan and Rich learned to slaughter and process their pigs themselves.

“I could not raise these animals on pasture, giving them a good life only to witness them completely stressed out by traveling to a slaughter facility where they simply were not treated well. I’d prefer to kill them myself then to experience that again!” says Buhrman, although it is Rich who bears that chore.

Over the years, they have perfected select sausage recipes, bacon, curing, and other pork preparation.

_MG_9645While the Large Black is the breed they typically raise, they have also kept Berkshires, Tamworths, Durocs, Gloucester Old Spots, and Yorkshires. The thought is that by raising and eating the breeds of our forefathers, one preserves not only a unique type of pig but also an important food heritage. It is dangerous to have only a handful of commercial livestock who all share the same genetic traits.

The idea of Porks & Knives is to create a workshop focused on a type of slaughter and butchery that naturally evolved with humankind. In 2012, Aaron Oster, head chef of the Kitchen Porch at the time, invited Franois Vecchio to Martha’s Vineyard for the first Porks & Knives. . It is with a passion to share all that she knows of all things good and raised properly, that Jan continues the classes. This year she is joined with “outstanding in their field” chefs; Nathan Gould and Kari Underly.



 Nathan Gould

Chef Nathan Gould was a first year participant, and in 2013, was a co-teacher of the class. Gould is a classically trained chef with a strong background in Culinary Nutrition and Exercise Science. His passion is in local growing and foraging. He is currently the Executive Sous Chef at one of the Historic Hotels of America, The Harbor View Hotel on Martha’s Vineyard. He has been featured on Fox News Boston, Bucks Life Magazine as a local chef, conducted demos at Williams & Sonoma, Copley Place, fully executed a gala event and tasting dinner for French Master Chef Francois Vecchio, as well as having been featured in multiple press outlets.







Special hotel rate at the Beach Plum Inn $159/per room/per night.

If needed, we can help coordinate travel logistics as well.  We are available for any questions.

Jan Buhrman and Rich Osnoss
Kitchen Porch and Culinary Experiences of Martha’s Vineyard
















Cancellation Policy-2015

Photo Credit:  Timothy Young Photography