Purple Pig Eats barbecue coming to Back Door Lounge

Walking into Old Sacramento’s Back Door Lounge is like a beautiful, strange time warp. Still, it’s not the sort of place you expect to chow down on excellent food.

But now the kitchen belongs to Aaron Anderson, a former fine dining chef with stints at the Ritz Carlton in Arizona and the Hyatt Regency in San Diego. He came to Back Door in October, revamping the dive bar’s usual breakfast and lunch fare with farm-to-fork sensibilities. It’s still biscuits and gravy and meaty sandwiches, but now everything is made from scratch in-house. Anderson says food sales have at least doubled since he’s arrived.

“I had a Gordon Ramsey mindset coming in here,” he says, laughing.

Now, he’s getting ready to bring his project Purple Pig Eats to the masses. It started as a pop-up in his backyard last summer, turned into a catering service and after some preview events in February, it’ll morph into a permanent pop-up inside Back Door Lounge Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in late March.

Purple Pig Eats specializes in what Anderson calls “California-style barbecue.” That means, in addition to the usual farm-to-fork qualities, lots of herbs, uber fresh flavors and Asian and Mexican influences. For example, pork butt is slow cooked carnitas-style for 10 hours, doused in sweet vinegar and then smoked; lamb ribs come with a yuzu mint glaze; tacos are filled with char siu-style pork; and super-creamy mac ‘n’ cheese is brightened up with chives and lemony shrimp. A note for true ‘cue nerds: Anderson primarily uses cherry and almond wood.

Most plates will go for $12-$15—accessible food at accessible prices. That’s the point. Anderson says he’s happy to leave molecular gastronomy and fancy plating behind.

“Fine dining is great, and it gives you to the tools to do cool stuff,” he says. “But this reaches more people.”

Anderson’s fiancée Allison Matney cooks in the kitchen as well. She’s already focused on the next stage of Purple Pig Eats: on-the-job training for disadvantaged youth and people dealing with homelessness and mental health issues. With a background in social work, she’s in the early stages of forming her nonprofit Grateful Jobs, which would help folks break into the culinary industry. An obvious place for clients to practice their new skills would be Purple Pig, which they plan to also bring to farmers markets, breweries and local festivals this summer.

For more about Purple Pig and to keep updated on its preview events, hit up its Facebook page.

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