Francois Vecchio, El Dorado Meat Collective, charcuterie, master butcher,


ARCHIVED | This is a rare and special opportunity to learn from a true master. Join El Dorado Meat Collective on JUNE 25-28 IN SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA!

Francois Vecchio, born to a family with long traditions in butchery, began his own journey in 1958, apprenticing in Switzerland, Italy and France.  After a lifetime of working in butchery shops, large and small, consulting with commercial meat producers and small butchery start-ups, and writing beautifully expressive books on the subject, Francois is happy to share his knowledge with the next generation of butchers.  At the conclusion of his 2015 road-trip across the USA, checking-in with charcuterie aficionados in state after state, Francois is back home in Northern California and ready to partner with the El Dorado Meat Collective to provide this hands-on apprentice’s workshop for a limited group of students.  In this seminar Francois, also known as “The Poet of Pork”, will share the fundamentals of hand trimming pigs respecting their natural anatomy, demonstrate differences between European and American cuts, and give proper attention to sorting the lean and fat for further processing into products such as:

Coppa ~ Pate ~ Fermented Salami ~ Mortadella ~ Coppa di Testa & Much More!

Old world techniques will be demonstrated, including using various casings from the animal, learning to incorporate lardelli into emulsified product, applying an eye to lean/fat particle definition and tying the sausages with hemp twine signifying an artisan product.  Francois will lead the fermenting application techniques with a salumi curing case too!

French born and trained Pastry Chef  Stepahie Lamour will join Francois in specialty products such as Pate en Crute and Brioche stuffed with sausge!

In addition to an intense schedule in the kitchen classroom, we’ve allotted plenty of time to decompress and network with your fellow apprentices, from a welcome gathering at a Sacramento sausage hot-spot, breakfast, lunch, dinners and a closing reception featuring the products made during the seminar!  We believe that the relationships that you develop at an event like this can be as valuable as the skills you learn.

This will be an intimate “Hands On” workshop with only 8 participants working directly with Francois.  The cost is $2,200 per participant. The cost includes all meals during the seminar.  Lodging and transportation not included, however once booked we will send you a link to a group rate at the Springhill Suites Sacramento Airport, in Natomas.  Each participant will also have the option to take home products made during the week and the EMC will ship out a representation of products requiring longer-term aging, such as fermented salami, to each participant when done maturing!

The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of California – Sacramento is just 10 minutes away from SMF airport.

Join us for this very special opportunity to spend four invaluable days with Francois Vecchio, a real legend in the meat world both here and abroad!

Click here to view agenda (note that the agenda is designed to convey a general framework of the class, details are subject to change with the wishes of the students or the whim of the instructor).

Click here to view the introduction to Francois Vecchio’s Video “The Art and Philosophy of Producing Quality Pork”.

NOTE:  You will not be able to enroll for this class online due to limited availability!  Please call Jon Gonzales at 530-417-6180 for questions and enrollement.  

Whether you are in the craft or an enthusiast this workshop if for you!  Participants will receive a copy of Francois’ latest book and video in advance, a prerequisite read and watch prior to attending the class.  All participants are required to bring their own butchering tools and knives of choice.  Chef knives are not adequate for this seminar.  Questions please call Jon at 530-417-6180.

pulled pork, peter hertzmann, recipes, knife skills illustrated

Pulled Pork, need we say more?

Pulled Pork from BG member and author Peter Hertzmann 

Next time you’re in the area, drop in at Cape Fear BBQ & Chicken in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It’s easy to find on Grove Street, State Route 24, not too far from Fort Bragg. Order a BBQ Sandwich. You’ll get an moderate helping of pulled pork and a garnish of slaw on a plain hamburger bun. The sandwich will set you back $4.19. I order two with a side of Brunswick Stew.

This is the part of the south where barbecue means pulled pork. North Carolina barbecue is nothing like Memphis, St. Louis, or Texas barbecue. It’s closer to Hawaiian Kalua Pig than to most other mainland versions of barbecued pork.

The basic method to prepare pulled pork may be the world’s simplest cooked-meat recipe. Place a large piece of pork shoulder in a covered pot, and cook in a low-to-medium, say 325 °F (160 °C), oven until the meat shreds easily. A lower temperature will work just as well, but it will take slightly longer to reach the desired result. You don’t need to preheat the oven. It doesn’t matter if the meat still has bone or doesn’t. If you can’t find a lid for your pot, cover the top tightly with foil. If you have a crockpot, that’ll will work, too.

After the first couple of hours of cooking, I usually turn the meat once an hour, but this isn’t absolutely necessary. The most important endpoint is that the meat shreds easily. This takes a bunch of hours. Once the meat is shredded, mix the accumulated juices from the pot in with the shreds for serving.

Want to fancy up the recipe? Thoroughly rub the meat with a prepared meat rub of your choice. Then air-dry the meat overnight in your refrigerator on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. If you don’t have time for the overnight drying, then cook the meat right after you rub it. The meat rub doesn’t have to be conventional; I’ve used a rub made from ground and peeled roasted chocolate beans and dried piment de Espelette. It was yummy. Commercial rubs have also been good. Plain, no rub, is also fine.

If you want to add some sauce at the end, you can make a traditional Carolina Barbecue Sauce from vinegar and mustard. Or you can use any other form of barbecue sauce. I like chipotle sauce from south of the border.

Since I usually start with a seven- to ten-pound piece of meat and much of it remains after cooking, I pack portioned-size quantities of the cooked pork into plastic bags, for the meat into a flat layer, and vacuum seal them. When I desire pulled pork for dinner, a bag is reheated in simmering water for about ten minutes. A pair of scissors is all I need to serve the pulled pork. If you have an end-style vacuum sealer, separate the cooking juices from the meat, chill them until solid, and divide the solidified mass between the storage bags before sealing. The liquid will redistribute itself through the pork during the reheating.

This technique for cooking pork works because before cooking, the meat is about two-thirds water. During its slow heating, the collagen that give the meat structure slowly shrinks a little causing water to be squeezed from the meat. By the time the meat shreds easily, the water content of the meat is reduced to about fifty percent and much of the collagen has been converted to gelatin. The juices that accumulate in the bottom of your cooking pot is a mixture of the released water, loose proteins, and the gelatin, and is full of great meat flavor. During the cooking, the juices provide water that is converted to steam to cook the portion of the meat that is not submerged. The final cooked product has been truly braised.

Cafe Rouge, Berkeley, butchery, Marsha Mc Bride, charcuterie, good meat

Cafe Rouge Hiring/Training FT Butcher

Cafe Rouge meat market, in operation since 1996 is located in the  Fourth Street shopping district of West Berkeley.
We are seeking a full time butcher.
Minimum requirements:
Knife and butchery skills
Two years culinary experience in a professional kitchen
Customer service experience
Friendly, well groomed and cheerful demeanor.
We are willing to train a dedicated, diligent and eager person.
Cafe Rouge provides, health and dental insurance, paid vacation and sick leave. The position is an hourly wage based on experience.
Please send resume to
recipe for a pretzel dog from BG Member Matt Hinckley

Let it Roll


Like most Americans, my first experience with sausage rolls was eating “pigs in blankets” as a child.   They were typically Vienna sausages or hotdogs wrapped in puff pastry.  Like most, I grew out of them (college excluded), until they resurfaced as a larger roll that I discovered while working in New Zealand and traveling through Australia.  Particularly intriguing were Australia’s kanga bangas, similar to the American hotdog but made with kangaroo meat.  It would be quite a few years before larger sausage rolls would surface again in rural Texas under the alias “kolache”.

Kolache (koh-LAH-chee) has it’s roots in the Czech Republic but enjoys a near zealous following in some parts of the US.  Kolache are very often sweet pastries that resemble what most people might consider a Danish.  On a recent horn-to-horn road trip through Texas I stumbled across countless roadside spots selling different styles of kolaches.  Rather than the Danish-like sweet fillings, a lot  of Texans were wrapping big smoked sausages in soft breads.  It was a Texas-sized approach to ‘pig-in-a-blanket’.

Amongst many others, Texans take their kolache serious and there are several festivals there that celebrate all things kolache.  While this recipe isn’t intended to represent either the kolaches of Texas or the sausage rolls of New Zealand or Australia it does pay homage to all things sausage wrapped in all things pastry.

I buy my pork from Palmetto Creek Farms in Central Florida.  They run a transparent operation and raise big happy pigs in line with The Butcher’s Guild’s principles of ethics and sustainability.  We try to bring in whole animals as often as possible.  In my recent Wild Board Porchetta di Testa post I demonstrated what to do with the heads from pigs or boars.  Here we utilize the shoulders, belly, and fatback to make bratwurst in house.

At Boxpark (now closed), we ferment our own sauerkraut and typically allow it to age for a couple of months before we serve it.  The longer it sits the better it gets.  Young sauerkraut can be crunchy and squeaky.  As it sits it will develop more depth of flavor and, as a matter of opinion, a more pleasing texture.

The same is true for the mustard.  Sample it on the same day that you make it and it will resemble a spicy Chinese mustard.  Allow it to sit for a few weeks and the spicy notes mellow out and allow the other flavors to shine through.




1 ¼ cup dry mustard, packed
2 tsp sea salt
12 oz eggs
1 cup tarragon vinegar
¼ cup honey


Mix all ingredients together and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour.

Whisk over a double boiler until smooth.  Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.  It’s best after a week or two.



30g sea salt
1 head of green cabbage, sliced into ¼” ribbons
5 juniper berries, smashed


Toss the shredded cabbage with sea salt and juniper berries and allow to sit at room temperature until the cabbage starts to sweat.  Gently squeeze the cabbage and pack into a glass or ceramic jar.  Place a dinner plate on top of cabbage and weigh down with a gallon jug of water.  Cover with cheesecloth and leave in a cool dark place.  The salt will pull water out of the cabbage and make a brine.  Push the cabbage down periodically to make sure that it stays in the brine.  After it ferments for about a week it can be packed into jars and stored in the refrigerator.



13 oz pork belly
13 oz pork shoulder
4 oz pork fatback
2 oz cold pilsner beer or lager

12g sea salt
2g black peppercorns, toasted, ground
1g caraway seeds, toasted, ground
1g dried oregano, ground
8g evaporated milk powder


Cut all the pork into large dice and place in freezer until the edges start to freeze.  Mix in salt and seasonings.

Grind through a 3/8” grinding plate.  Place mixture along with beer into an ice cold mixing bowl and paddle on low speed until tacky.  It should take less than 5 minutes.

Stuff the mixture into 1 ½” hog casings and twist into 5” links.

Refrigerate at least 12 hours.

Brown the sausages slightly in clarified butter being careful not to cook too much.  They will be going in the oven, so you are just looking for color.




30g fresh yeast
960g water

20g sea salt
30g evaporated cane juice

175g bread flour

Dissolve yeast in water.  Add in the salt and sugar.  Gradually mix in enough flour to form a stiff dough.

Using a dough hook on medium speed, knead the dough for about 8 minutes adding flour as necessary.

Ferment about 45 minutes then wrap around bratwurst.  Reserve a small piece of dough.


Bring the following to a boil:

2 qt water

36g baking soda
15g sea salt

Add wrapped sausages to the boil along with reserved piece of pretzel dough.  Boil until the small piece of pretzel dough floats to the surface and remains at the surface for 1 minute.

Brush pretzels with egg wash and top with sea salt and/or caraway seeds.  Bake at 475F for approximately 20 minutes.

Matt Hinckley

V. Miller Meats located in Sacramento to open this year, whole animal butcher shop, Butchers Guild Member Eric Veldman Miller

V. Miller Meats Coming Soon!

Congratulations to Eric Veldman Miller of V. Miller Meats slated to open in Sacramento this year! V. Miller Meats got a shout out in the Sacramento Bee, (click here to read full article). Make sure to “like” their FB Page and when they open make sure to stop by, pick up a steak and get your grill on.

lamb butchery video with Danny Johnson at The Butchers Guild Conference 2014
children's book about shopping with your local butcher, lee seelig

I Love Going To The Butcher

I always dreamed of writing a book for children about taking a trip to the local butcher shop. It is so important to teach our children that there are more sources for our food than retail grocery stores. It gives them access to more choices, better meat and healthier nutrition in the future. When I was growing up, my grandmother used to take me shopping with her to a butcher shop/deli in Alameda. The memories of holding my grandmothers hand whilst peering into a meat counter are fuzzy, warm and sun-laden, for me it was a treat. And if you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a butcher shop nearby the experience is one that your children shouldn’t miss! Butchers Guild Member Lee Seelig wrote this wonderful book. I love reading it to my son, buy one and read it to your kids!

I Love Going To The Butcher, by Lee Seelig

Tia Holmes

Lee Seelig, third generation owner of his family’s meat business, brings to life a treasured tradition of journeying to the butcher shop in this fun and heartwarming children’s book.

Children tend to look forward to an approaching event—the barbecue with drinks and family and friends and, most importantly, food! But Seelig reminds us that an essential part of the magic comes from the meat market.

Follow a mother and child in an errand-turned-adventure, as they visit the butcher shop on Main Street, full of friendly butchers who share treats and cheerfully show off their slicing and prepping skills of the myriad of meats and cheeses in their shop. They know that the secret to perfect steaks and hamburgers is the artistry of the cut!

Then, it’s on to what we’ve all been waiting for—the grill, where Daddy takes over to create the most amazing smells and tastes. This draws out family and friends who gather in the backyard, eating and laughing and telling stories.

Seelig’s is a sweet story that reminds us to cherish the little things—like a juicy burger, a yard full of loved ones, and sliding under the bedcovers with a full tummy.


Char crust dry rub seasonings

Char Crust

We are real people that took a single product and grew it into a small family business. We love making our dry rub products for our devoted customers, and we love that our little business has grown to the point that it not only supports us, but also our employees.

Desert Meats & Provisions

Desert Meats & Provisions is a specialty meat company that has served the greater Las Vegas area and surrounding states for well over a decade. We provide cut and un-cut product to almost every hotel/casino, major resorts and white table cloth restaurants in Las Vegas as well as a few retailers and smaller restaurants.

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