Food and Drinks

Did you know that traditional pork crackling should be seasonal?

Chef James Diack of the Brightside Group talks us through some of the interesting things you probably didn’t know about food…

Are you part of the growing group of 21st century trendsters desiring to eat only organic, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients? Then this snippet is for you.

While many restaurants, farms and butcheries claim to be sustainable and organic, here is a little tip to help you establish whether they are or not. We all love crackling; that crispy, fatty piece of deliciousness served alongside a pork belly dish, or as a bar snack. Well, did you know that the type of crackling you are given, should differ by season?

According to Chef James Diack, Joburg’s pioneer of provenance and owner of The Brightside Group, “If you are being served a fatty, crispy crackling in winter, then the pig is unlikely to be from a local, organic farm but somewhere it is being overfed or injected with hormones to make it taste great.”

It’s simple really; pigs foraging for food at a legitimate, organic farm during winter will be much leaner than the ones who are grown in mass-scale slaughterhouses. The leaner the pig, the less fatty its crackling.

“Because all our pigs come off our family farm in the Magaliesburg and the grazing conditions are less bountiful in winter, the layer of fat on them is a lot thinner. So, to ensure all The Brightside Group’s restaurants offer a great crackling experience in winter, we serve a dehydrated version called a crackling puff. It is still crispy and delicious and avoids the chewy disappointment that comes from attempting to cook regular crackling with half the fat,” says Chef James.  

The Brightside Group was founded by Chef James Diack and has four restaurants in Johannesburg Coobs (Parkhurst), Douglas + Hale (Parktown North), Il Contadino (Parktown North) and La Stalla (Melville). Brightside Farm, where James was raised, is run by his mother Janet and provides 95% of the produce served at each restaurant thus, the name The Brightside Group.

Passionate about seasonality and sustainability, James and his team are committed to providing a world class experience from nose-to-tail, root-to-leaf, beginning-to-end, that hopes to inspire others to live more conscious and sustainable lives.

So, for next winter, consider yourself a little more educated and opt for the butcher or restaurant supplying you with the leaner pork. Its not only better for your health, but for our planet’s sustainability too. 

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