Cowin: How confident were you that you could sell things like calves’ brains ravioli?

Batali: We always say at the restaurant that maybe 5 million people in New York City hate us, but at least 7 million others don't. The trick is that you would never put something on the menu like a lung sandwich. You call it something else or give it a sexy foreign name. Then it sells.

Fernald: At our butcher shop we always sell out of lamb. Most time your customers will find you, and often times they are Lebanese or Europeans who are used to eating these cuts. Offal items didn't go out of style years ago because people didn't want them, but rather they are very delicate and perishable and butcher shops and restaurants didn't want to keep them around because they could easily lose money.

Cowin: How do you deal with vegetarians and vegans?

Cosentino: At my restaurant it's no problem for them to eat. We have plenty of vegetables. In fact, vegetables are my highest cost because I buy them from local farmers. And I also treat vegetables like meat and roast them and imbue flavor into them.

Batali: Flexitarian is a smart way to eat. Nobody needs to eat meat three times a day. Introducing vegetables into your meal makes sense.

Fernald: What I'm seeing is that people became vegetarians for health reasons. Now it's more about respecting the land and the great things it produces. I'm with Mario. A flexitarian diet that encompasses meat and vegetables is a good thing.

Cosentino: Meat doesn't always have to be at the center of the plate. When I've traveled to Asia I often find that they will cook their vegetables in pork fat to give them flavor without overwhelming the palate. But when they do eat meat around the world, they often eat off cuts and a lot of times raw. In Japan, I've eaten chicken gizzards, chicken sashimi and raw beef tripe. It's delicious.

Fernald: I lived in northern Italy and at butcher shops they would often give small children a taste of raw pork sausage and kids love it. At my butcher shop, we offer a raw taste of all our meats because we know they've [the animals] been raised in a way we know is safe and healthy.

Cowin: Why is charcuterie so popular now in this country?

Batali: Anyone can throw a steak on the grill, but making salumi and things like that takes great care and time. People appreciate it. It also shows this country is headed in the right direction.

Read this article at sister site Nation's Restaurant News