UNBEATABLE with Connie DeSousa & John Jackson
The co-chefs of Charcut in Calgary tune in to their senses.
August 9, 2016 ● 3 min read
If you're a meat person, you go to Charcut. Sure, it's in Calgary, Alberta, but that's a small hurdle for those of us who dream of the kinds of charcuterie and roasty-toasty cuts this kitchen puts out. We sat down with the four-armed talented monster behind it, also known as Connie DeSousa (homegirl, it should be noted, can debone a pig's face in 49 seconds) and John Jackson (who can deliver around 10 respectable zingers in the same time frame). Read on to see which sensory experiences they consider flat-out unbeatable up in the Northerly wilds of Canada.
John Jackson: After a long day, rushing home and being able to see my children still up. When they see me first walk in the door, their initial reaction... their smiles, their excitement. Especially when it's been a long day. You can feel it. That's probably my favorite sight.
Connie DeSousa: Mine is seeing my daughter Annabella first thing in the morning. She's right out of bed. She's always super happy. It's like she never has a bad day. She’s always just ready to go. No matter what kind of day I had the night before it’s so refreshing to see her and her happiness in the morning.
Connie: Oh, the sound that I love is when we're doing any pickling, canning, and preserving. When you pull the jars out of the pot, that, like [makes a suction popping sound.] I love that.
John: That's a good one. For me it’s the energy of the room and that sound of the kitchen. All of our concepts are open kitchens, so you’re going through service and listening, taking a break and looking up. Feeling that excitement and energy of our space and our room is very driving for us as chefs. It's something that we crave. It’s one of those sounds that gives you tingles. You're a part of that experience that everyone is having, whether it's the food, it's the space, it's the service. You're a part of that energy and I love that, the sound of that.
Connie: Probably the smell of any meat that's either roasting over a charcoal grill or even roasting in the oven. Just that waft of roasted meat just makes me hungry every time. Makes me salivate.
John: I mean, everything goes to babies for me! But I’ll do something food-related. We use a lot of birch and fruitwoods where we are, and that smell when you walk into our building — that aroma of the birch. We were born and raised in that part of Canada, and we've used it our whole lives. That's the wood that's been in our fireplaces growing up. It's very perfume-y. It's very comforting.
Another one is when you walk into my mom's house where she's had like, a slow-cooker going all day with a pot roast. It's that meat smell Connie's talking about, but it's everywhere. When it's cold in winter and snow’s on the ground, it instantly warms you up.
Connie: After a crazy service, going home and relaxing in my steam shower, especially in the winter. That feeling of just unwinding and being in that warmth — it's very satisfying after a long service.
John: The crispy skin [on a roasting pig]. I'm feeling over the pig, I'm about to rip off a big chunk of the skin, and I'm feeling for the crispiest part. When I find it, it's like, jackpot. Ripping that off and crunching it...that crispy element is always very satisfying.
John: I'm a savory, umami type of person. The cheeses where you can feel the salt crystals and your mouth starts to water. I'm a savory addict. I love it.
Connie: I'm a big robust pickle-y lover. A really well-done kosher dill. Biting into it, the skin is super crunchy, the inside is super briny. The brinier, the better. Salty, really acidic. Love those flavors.