Passion for Pork


Admin - Friday, June 1, 2012

Pork is the most consumed meat in the world. Pork rules in Asia and Europe, but has not been as popular in North America until recently. As with most food everything is cyclical and now is pork’s turn to shine in the limelight.

The explosion of nose-to-tail cuisine is one of trend making pork more popular but so is the rising Asian influence in North America and the fusing of cuisines. This trend started in the east (New York, Toronto & Montreal) and is now moving west. Many restaurants who rarely had pork on the menu now offer creative pork dishes to the delight of their customers. 

Celebrity chefs like New York Chef David Chang, (Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People 2010), has helped lead this pork movement. His Momofuku restaurant chain in New York, Sydney, Australia and soon in Toronto this August has mainly pork on the menu, and his melt-in-the-mouth pork buns are famous.

Restaurant meals at home

According to NPD Research (USA) just over seven out of 10 meals are now made at home. What’s interesting is prior to the U.S. recession, over 40 per cent of meals were purchased outside the home. Canadians eat fewer meals (23%) outside the home. The trend now is that home chefs want restaurant-type food at home.

Recipe explosion 

Most home cooks used to have seven to nine meal favourites in their weekly repertoire but now many want to try a new recipe daily. This has led to an explosion in recipes: in 2011, there were 1.5 billion hits on the internet for recipes, according to While many people are going online and searching their apps, interest in the printed versions is growing as well. When it comes to cookbooks, no one does it better than Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks in Vancouver.

Barbara-Jo McIntosh knows cooking, having started her career as a chef and later owning her own restaurant. Now Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks (1740 West 2nd Avenue, Vancouver) is celebrating 15 years in business.  Barbara-Jo is also an accomplished food author herself.

While the publishing business is generally declining, cookbooks are one of the industry’s bright lights. Books to Cooks offers one of the best selections of cookbooks anywhere. It’s not only inspiring home chefs who visit the store, but also many of the best chefs from around the world.

“Even the really great chefs are constantly researching looking for the next great recipe,” says McIntosh.

Big names like Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, Anthony Bourdain, Michel Roux Jr., Mark Bittman and wild man Martin Piccard from Montreal have all done their thing at Barbara-Jo’s. But McIntosh has also helped launched cookbook careers for local Vancouver chefs such as Rob Fennie.

Cookbook and food book aficiandos will  feel like they’re in heaven upon entering. Books to Cooks offers hundreds of titles — from food history and sustainability to preserving, growing, and butchering food. If a title is not in stock, they will get it for you.

When it comes to cookbooks, the pig is big at Books to Cooks. Two great pork cookbooks Barbara-Jo highly recommends are:

A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield
April Bloomfield takes home cooks on an intimate tour of the food that has made her a star. One of Manhattan’s culinary darlings shares many of her recipes from her famed NY restaurants – The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, and The John Dory as well as recipes from her own home kitchen. Those looking for recipes for great nose-to-tail cuisine won’t be disappointed.

Pork & Sons by Stephane Reynaud
This butcher’s grandson shares more than 150 pork recipes from his native France that has been handed down over three generations. The book is fully illustrated with photographs of the dishes and the land the pigs are raised on.   

Here are a few other pork titles we spotted at Barbara-Jo’s:

Barbara-Jo’s also has what every cookbook store should feature: a kitchen. It hosts visiting authors preparing food at their book launches, special events and book clubs that serve food and wine.

This photo from the Cooks to Books website shows a recent event to promote the exquisite French book, Salami ($650). Master sausage maker Jan van der Lieck from Granville Island’s Oyama Sausage Co. was there to explain how to make world-class salami and other popular cured pork products.