Potential chefs learn about meat processing with Ethan Bubeck of Lewright Meats Inc.

Ethan Bubeck explains what cuts of meat come from which parts of the hog. Photo by Kim Demory

High school students from around the region headed to Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge last Thursday, Jan. 30, to take part in a Culinary Career Discovery Day.  The students had signed up to spend the day learning about grilling techniques, knife skills, pastry making and decorating techniques...but there was one more surprise they weren’t expecting.  Chef Michael Hirst, director of the Culinary Arts Program at ICCC, had lined up a very special guest speaker...and he brought a friend with him. 

Ethan Bubeck of Lewright Meat Inc. in Eagle Grove greeted the students at ICCC as they walked into the Hanson Center Culinary Auditorium.  He looked just like any other speaker, until ICCC culinary students rolled in “Henry,” the name they would soon give to the half hog carcass on the cart.

“We’re about to watch a master work his craft,” said Hirst amongst a few gasps of shock and moans of the thought of what was to come.  Other high school students, however, appeared excited at the opportunity to learn something unexpected.

Hirst added that he invited Bubeck, who has been butchering for 14 years in the business that has been in his family for 82 years, because he wanted both the high school students as well as those students already enrolled in the Culinary Arts program at ICCC to get the idea that it’s important to understand where the food they are preparing comes from and how it gets to their kitchen onto the customers plate.

Bubeck began by explaining that Lewright Meats Inc. is a full service locker, which means they bring the animals in the back door live and send them out the front door packaged per customer specifications for cuts of meat.  Next, he explained the safety equipment he uses, noting that they were all equally important in keeping him safe.  There is a belly pad that in the case of a knife slip will shield him from puncturing his stomach and vital organs; a helmet, and a cut-proof glove on his left hand since he is right-handed and holding the carcass with his left hand.  But perhaps one of the most important tools, he explained to the students, is a very sharp knife.

  “More people cut themselves with dull knives than sharp ones,” said Bubeck.

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