On June 30, 2011, a then-unexplained fire in downtown Madison left 27 residents, a hair salon, and the Underground Kitchen homeless. The city’s official report was completed last month; while the cause is officially “undetermined,” the likely culprit remains laundered-but-still-oily restaurant aprons and towels that, with oxygen from a vent and lingering heat from the dryer, spontaneously combusted; you can read all the details here.
Despite the enormous loss, the folks at the Underground Food Collective have kept themselves busy in the intervening months. Two recent pieces from 77 Square at madison.com provide a window into what the crew has been up to. As summarized in this article from Lindsay Christians, “Eight months after the blaze, UFC is closing in on a new restaurant space, though they have not officially announced where. Meanwhile, Underground has kept its ethical food ethos alive through catering weddings and nonprofit events, sustainable meat processing, hands-on classes and pop-up (one night only) dinners.” Christians goes on to describe a number of events that UFC has put on or is planning for the near future.
In a companion piece, Christians describes a pair of hog-butchering classes held last month: “The point of the classes, in UFC’s near east side kitchen, is less to train a new crop of butchers and more to foster a sense of connection between Madisonians and what we eat. ‘You rarely get to see something like this, where you start as close to the source as possible,’ said Garin Fons, a collective member and the teacher of the class. ‘With any meat, it’s like, “I didn’t know that’s where my rack of lamb came from, I don’t know how a pork chop comes off, I didn’t know it took that long to get bacon made.”‘”
Both articles are worth the read, so check ’em out. In the meantime, enjoy the UFC video below of smoked (this one’s for you, Chris!) beef brisket, one of several videos on the group’s website and Vimeo from collective member Emily Julka.