Until the end of July, fifteen Durham restaurants are going whole hog—committing to sourcing local, ethically raised meats and collectively utilizing every part of a pig in menu items specially created for the Tour de Pork, now in its second year.
The Tour de Pork, which began on June 1, is an undertaking by Firsthand Foods, a Durham-based business that connects local, pasture-based livestock farmers with local restaurants and retailers.
“Agriculture has the opportunity to be a savior,” says Jennifer Curtis, co-owner of Firsthand Foods. “But on the flip side, it can also be very destructive.”
Curtis says the goal of the tour is to show how meat can benefit communities so long as it is sourced from humane farmers and prepared in a way that minimizes waste. The tour also aims to celebrate Firsthand’s restaurant partners in Durham.
“We are a meat business that’s very unique,” says Curtis. “It takes a village [to stay afloat], and Durham does it.”
Some of the participating restaurants already featured pork in their menu items. Bull City Burger & Brewery incorporates pork belly into its Bull Nuts, the restaurant’s take on a traditional pub snack; Lucky’s Delicatessen uses house-smoked ham in its ham and cheddar sandwich. Others, however, have added special Tour de Pork dishes to their menu. Fullsteam Brewery’s designated pig part is spare ribs, which it is serving brined in its own Beasley’s Honey White—an ale originally crafted to pair with the honey-drizzled fried chicken from Beasley’s Chicken & Honey—and tossed with local mushrooms poached in garlic herb butter.
Fullsteam owner Sean Wilson says the brewery has been a fan of Firsthand for a long time. Firsthand was the first food truck ever stationed outside Fullsteam, before the brewery started offering its own food and back when Firsthand Foods was nothing more than a food truck called the Sausage Wagon.
“We’ve seen their business evolve over the years because their time frame sort of mirrors ours,” Wilson says. “We want to support two women who lead a sustainably minded food initiative, and are really proud to be a part of [Tour de Pork].”
Customer engagement is an integral part of the tour—after registering and downloading a “passpork,” participants can order the Tour de Pork dish at one of the restaurants, post a photo to Instagram with the tag #tourdepork, and be entered in a raffle for a hundred-dollar gift card to a Tour de Pork restaurant of their choice, as well as other prizes. Instagram entries also earn “Piggy Points” for participants: five piggy points (aka five photos of Tour de Pork dishes) secure a pair of Firsthand Food socks, ten piggy points win you a sausage sampler, and—if you want to go the whole hog—fifteen piggy points will get you a deluxe steak box.
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