Photos: Dario Cecchini, the legendary butcher of Panzano, Italy, wows crowds at Panzano restaurant

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

A few months ago, during the merry month of May, Elise Wiggins, exec chef of Panzano, took some time away from her downtown Italian restaurant to do a stagisti with Dario Cecchini, the rock star butcher who's made an international name for himself in the diminutive town of Panzano, in Italy's Chianti region, where he's the legendary face behind Antica Macelleria Cecchinia, his small, world-renowned, family-owned artisanal butcher shop. See also: What Elise Wiggins Learned in Italy: You're never too old to learn! Chef and Tell: Elise Wiggins of Panzano

But while his butcher shop isn't big, the showman who deftly butchered part of a pig last night at Panzano in full view of a captive audience, is larger than life, his flamboyantly wild red pants a fitting wardrobe addition to his booming Tuscan-accented voice, ruddy face, broad shoulders, hearty laugh and convivial demeanor.

Cecchini, who's practiced -- and perfected -- the art of butchery for forty years, spent a good thirty minutes last night beautifully wielding an enviable selection of cleavers and knives, trading quips with his wife, Kim, who translated, and emphasizing the fervor that fuels his fire. "Using whole animals," he declared, is "a harmonious concept. Every single part is excellent, from the foot, to the tail, to the nose, and I've always sought to to put passion into my work -- it's the same passion I bring to you tonight." And the "job of a butcher," he added is "the most delicate on the food chain.

The demonstration, where Cecchini showed the audience how to prepare "arista in porchetta," was followed by a four-course dinner, cooked by Wiggins, who called Cecchini a "master." "He turned my life upside down," she told the crowd. "And when I was working with him in Italy, he showed me everything and shared all of his secrets and recipes, and that's the true testament of a teacher." She added, too, that she'll "never look at a pig or a cow the same way ever again."

If you missed last night's demonstration and dinner, book an airline ticket to Tuscany...or just feast on the photos on the following pages.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.