The Washington Post Makes A Meat Pun in Honor of Ryan Farr

Hear what our friend Anya Fernald of Belcampo and BG Member Ryan Farr have to say about the butcher renaissance.
To read the original article and see photos, go here.

Leave it to cleaver: Celebrity butchers savoring spotlight on their meat
By Associated Press, Published: December 20

Knife in hand, Ryan Farr surveys the fresh whole lamb carcass stretched out on the cutting board, garnet flesh wrapped in a thin coat of pearlescent fat.He cuts into the ribs with the practiced skill of an old-time meat cutter, but Farr’s not your grandmother’s butcher. He’s been on TV with Martha Stewart, has a new book out, “Whole Beast Butchery,” and is one of a group of culinary luminaries on the cutting edge of a new food movement — the carnivore connection.
“A lot of people have gotten hip to, Who’s your farmer? The next step is, Who’s your butcher?” says Anya Fernald of Belcampo California, which has a 10,000 acre farm in Northern California’s Shasta Valley raising pastured and free range beef cattle, pork, lamb and other animals.Knowing your butcher used to be a key factor in putting tasty food on the table. But with the advent of plastic-wrapped steaks and chops that appear as if by magic in cold cases, the butcher became all but invisible, a white-coated figure glimpsed occasionally through a swinging supermarket door.Farr, a classically trained chef, came to butchery as a cook first, teaching himself the basics of meat-cutting as a restaurant chef and sous chef. In 2009, he and his wife, Cesalee, founded 4505 Meats in San Francisco, a meat company that supplies a number of area restaurants and also the site of Farr’s popular butchery classes for home cooks.“Whole Beast Butchery,” a visual guide to cutting up beef, pork and lamb with photographic step-by-step instructions, is intended to get more butchering novices started. “Basically, we needed to have something that I wish I had when I was learning this whole process of butchering,” says Farr.

Understanding the characteristics of the various animal parts — is it lean, is it fatty, did it move a lot, a little — helps in figuring out how best to cook them, Farr says. Meanwhile, buying whole animals, or going in with another family or two for the big cuts like a side of beef, means you’ll likely know where the animal is coming from and how it was raised. An added bonus is that when you butcher your own meat you’ll get the lesser-known and cheaper cuts that often don’t make it into supermarkets, such as lamb neck and shanks, delicious when properly cooked.

The return of the butcher comes at a time when interest in meat is high, from the national obsession with bacon to the wave of chefs championing the less-heralded animal parts like cheeks, ears and skin.

In 2012, Belcampo plans to open a slaughterhouse to process its meat as well as that of local farmers, a significant development considering that a lack of slaughterhouses in Northern California means ranchers must often drive animals hundreds of miles to the nearest plant. The company also plans to open a butcher shop in the Marin County Mart in the San Francisco suburb of Larkspur in June.

“My sense is that as a meat consumer in America, it’s very hard to find quality, source-verified meat,” says Fernald. “I wanted to build a butcher shop where we could offer an experience to consumers which was like what your grandmother had in a butcher shop.”

Butcher and chef Adam Sappington of The Country Cat in Portland, Ore., who also teaches butchery classes, finds that learning how to break down an animal gives people more confidence in walking into a butcher shop and ordering so-called “off cuts” like neck or lamb belly.“Part of the butchery process is using the whole thing,” says Sappington. “The book that Ryan’s putting out is great. Hopefully, it can broaden the horizons of the American consumer to say there’s something out there other than rack of lamb.”
But to get back to the carcass awaiting Farr’s knife, specifically, a lamb that not too long ago was presumably gamboling on the pastures of Don Watson’s Napa Valley Lamb Co. Farr begins by sharpening a fearsome array of knives on a whetstone and then starts on the animal, first cutting off the neck and using the cleaver and a mallet to chop through the bone. Two hacksaws, one big, one little, are pressed into service as the legs, shoulders and breast are turned into neat packages.An hour or so into the lesson, what was a lamb carcass is now a tray full of steaks, roasts, chops and a stainless steel tub of what will probably become sausages and stew meat.“One of the most amazing aspects for me, when you learn the anatomy of the animal and how the animal walks and sleeps, you become a better cook. There’s no question about it,” says Sappington. “You learn what makes the flavor, what enhances the animal, what makes it taste as good as it possibly can. And that to me is worth every moment that I spend at the butcher block breaking down animals. There’s a lot to it.”Farr is hoping to spark a return to the days when more consumers were in touch with where their meat came from. “People really want that,” he says. “Our classes have had a big impact because we’re coming close to completing the circle, knowing where the animal is from, know what you’re eating, know how to cut it, know how to cook it.”

The local butcher shop, berkeley, whole animal butchers, learn to butcher, aaron and monica rocchino bg mentors

Berkeley’s The Local Butcher Shop shares holiday recipes

Three meat recipes to grace your holiday table from a BG member (AND, the butcher just so happens to be an alumni of Chez Panisse).

Roast beef, holiday goose and a ham. Check them out here.

Adam Tiberio tells GQ his NYC meat faves

Click the image to check out Adam Tiberio’s top 10 picks for New York City insider meat tips.

BG Member Matt Jennings shares secrets of heritage pigs

From Serious Eats

Check out this video of Chef Matt Jennings (La Laiterie in Providence, Rhode Island) and Chef Mike LaScola (American Seasons in Nantucket, Massachusetts) talk nose-to-tail.

Shot at American Seasons’ Hogtoberfest, October 2011.
Video/Audio: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
Editor: Jessica Leibowitz
Music: Kevin MacLeod

*IT’S A BUTCHER!* New BG Member Announcements

We are so excited to announce the names of new BG Members. Here is a list of all our new family members. Look for their full profiles in the coming weeks on the Members page.

*Andrea Deibler, butcher at City Provisions in Chicago, IL

*Lauren Garaventa, butcher at Island Meadow Farm in Vashon, WA

*Todd Mussman, owner & chef at Local Three Bar & Kitchen in Atlanta, GA

*Ulli Bennewitz, owner and charcutier at Weeping Radish Farm Brewery in Mantea, GA

*Oscar Yedra, butcher at Canyon Market in San Francisco, CA

*R0n Savenor, owner of Savenor’s Markets in Boston and Cambridge, MA

*Katy Quinn, master butcher and consultant in Dudleyville, AZ

*Robert McGee, owner at The Whole Ox Deli in Honolulu, HI

Craig Deihl: “A Man With A Passion For Meat”

Check out South Carolina Food Insider’s interview with Craig Deihl, one of the most passionate charcuterie makers and whole-animal butchers in an American kitchen.

Putting Labor Back into the Meat Department: Get a sneak peek at what makes Kari Underly tick!

A preview of an upcoming print interview of BG Charter Member Kari Underly from the Progressive Grocer site:

Putting Labor Back into the Meat Department

By Meg Major

In the realm of retail differentiation strategies, it’s no surprise that the fresh meat department handily ranks among the most important for consumers when thinking about their preferred place to shop.

Indeed, multiple industry studies continue to hammer home the significance of that sentiment, along with the companion importance of a meat department sizzling with information, particularly in the form of knowledgeable, approachable personnel who can help shoppers solve the mysteries surrounding the preparation and serving of specific cuts.

Kari Underly, a third-generation butcher and author of “The Art of Beef Cutting: a Meat Professional’s Guide to Butchering and Merchandising,” is on a mission to help shoppers demystify the process, as she aptly relayed to PG’s Senior Editor Jim Dudlicek, by “putting the labor back into the meat department.”

During a recent visit with Underly — who serves as an on-site meat consultant for Standard Market, a new fresh-focused concept store that opened its first location last month in the Chicago suburb of Westmont — Jim had a ringside seat to see the female butcher in action while also hearing her views on what she considers to be the key attributes of a top-shelf fresh meat department and other “meaty matters” that are fully explored in a feature story that appears in the pages of our forthcoming December issue.

In the interim, I’ll round off the preview of our in-print profile on Underly with a quick rundown of what makes her tick, and what it’s like to be a female meat cutter.

PG: Considering your nontraditional career as a butcher in a vastly male dominated trade, what do feel is most overlooked by your male counterparts?

UNDERLY: Hard work and a commitment to excellence have been the cornerstones of my career as a meat cutter, marketer, entrepreneur and, now, author. However, I think my compassion for people and the animals themselves has had a unique influence on my growth and success within the industry. As an educator, I’m driven to help others like retailers, butchers, chefs and consumers expand their knowledge of and appreciation for the trade. I also have great interest and concern for the welfare of animals and how they are handled, from the farm all the way to the table.

PG: As a third-generation butcher, what is the most cherished or invaluable professional advice and wisdom you’ve received from your elder family members? How does that translate into your present day career as an author and hand-cut meat enthusiast?

UNDERLY: Believe it or not, the most valuable advice my father gave me was: “Don’t become a butcher.” At the time, boxed beef was becoming the norm. He felt butchery was a dying trade and, therefore, not a promising career path for his daughter to pursue. As a young girl, it was disheartening to think that someone like my father, who had built a life around the trade, felt as though his job was being diminished to opening a box and stocking shelves. However, I saw it very differently.  Not only was butchery a way to earn money for college, but over the years, his advice has only inspired me to leverage my career and experience to help keep the craft alive.”

Without a doubt, Kari Underly is one crafty and talented lady.

10 Things NOT to Buy For The Cook On Your List: Matt Jennings gives it to us straight

10 Holiday Gifts You Should Never Buy a Cook

From Bon Apetit Blog:
James Beard Award-nominated chef Matt Jennings lays down the law and lists the kitchen tools he wouldn’t be caught dead using.  
whisks--484.jpgWalk away from the high-concept whisks
There are some kitchen tools every chef needs: a well balanced fish spatula; saucing spoons; a Japanese mandolin; a mini offset spatula; or a dependable, digital scale. But there are plenty we wouldn’t be caught dead with. In fact, most of the shiny tools lining the shelves of that fancy cookware store at the mall make professional chefs (and avid home cooks) cringe with every piece of wrapping paper they pull away. Don’t embarrass yourself–or the cooks you love–this holiday, and avoid these gifts.

A Garlic Press 
Forget single-purpose tools.  Most are bulky, ill designed and irrational. The garlic press fits that bill. A well honed, sharp knife or even a Microplane will always be a better choice for mincing garlic.

High-Concept Whisks 
flat whisk for getting into those saucy corners of pots? Sure. But if you give me a whisk that looks like a squid or an egg, it will end up at the local dump. For most applications, a spare fork will do. But if you’re dying to buy your loved on a whisk, make it a small, wood handled beauty like this.

A Talking Meat Thermometer 
Come on. Let’s get serious.

Plastic-Handled Pots and Pans 
“Useless,” is the only word that comes to mind here. Say you’ve just finished searing off some beef cheeks for that perfect winter braise. Whoops: Better not put that pot in the oven because the handles will melt. No thanks. I’d rather cook everything in nonstick. And that’s kind of like pouring hot candle wax in my eyes.

Egg SeparatorsEgg Poachers, etc
Cooking an egg properly is one of a chef’s defining qualities; all you should need is a pot of salted water and a timer. Throw in an immersion circulator, a heavy-bottomed fry pan, and a few ramekins of various sizes, and my egg entourage is complete.

Onion Goggles

Here we have a kitchen tool that makes you look like a tool. Not only do these bad boys not work, as they trap the sulfuric acid in your peepers, but you’ll be the only kid on the block who can jump from your kitchen to a squash match with ease. To take the tears out of the equation, buy onions super fresh and refrigerate them for a couple of hours before you start slicing.
“Shorty” Silicone Oven Mitts
Puppeteer or cook–which do you want to be? Nothing will ever replace a trusty, dry, folded kitchen towel for handling hot pans. Oven gloves, particularly these cropped slippery silicone numbers, are sure to leave you with lovely wrist burns and render your opposable thumbs useless.

The “Brass Knuckle” Meat Tenderizer 
A must-have on the aging hipster house mom list, this dorky kitchen paperweight won’t tenderize meat any quicker than a heavy kitchen mallet or a cast iron pan. So hang it around your rear view mirror, or better yet–bring it to your next bar brawl. Just keep it out of your kitchen.

Electric Peppermills 
It may work for a few weeks, but when it jams up, you’re in trouble. Wouldn’t you rather develop a relationship with a dependable, well crafted, manual peppermill? A cook’s peppermill is like his or her co-pilot. I’ll be dammed if you’ll find me casting away the adjustable grind of a Peugeot or Vic Firth for a trampy little electric number.

Artsy Lemon Juicers 
It’s a lemon, folks. Roll it on a flat surface to extract the juices internally, slice it in half and bust out the reamer. Sure, the best tool for this job may not have the nicest name, but the citrus reamer is irreplaceable–that is, of course, unless you’re looking for a mantle piece decoration and conversation starter. Me? I’d rather get cooking.

Matt Jennings

Matt Jennings is the chef/owner of Farmstead & La Laiterie At Farmstead, in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Chefs are butchers, too!

We have many members that are chefs because we think much of the truly excellent sourcing and creative butchery is happening in restaurants these days. The Spoon and Trowel blog explores this line of thinking in a good post about why restaurants are the new middlemen.

Turkey Dealers: When butchers disappeared, did restaurants fill the void?

by Joanna Flamm on November 23, 2011

We’ve all heard what it was like in years gone by: you bought your meat from the local butcher one cut at a time, carefully wrapped in paper by hands as thick as steaks. But as American cooking habits changed (to involve, generally, less cooking) butcher shops have disappeared across the country. The grocery store is our primary meat market these days—why would we want to go two places to get groceries when it’s so much more convenient to get everything at the same store? Most Americans would lump butchers in with cobblers or blacksmiths: jobs you hear about in fairy tales, not something you might want to get into after college.
While small, sustainability-focused butchers have made a comeback in urban centers (Dickson’sThe Meat Hook, and Fleisher’s being NYC examples) another type of business has stepped in to help fill the void: restaurants that specialize in local food.
When we think about how our food chain has changed, this makes perfect sense. The butcher used to be the middleman between the people who grow meat and the people who eat it, because the people eating it were also cooking it. These days, that middleman is much more often a restaurant kitchen. Think about it: who is still taking the time to worry about meat quality? Who knows enough about cooking meat these days to care about how animal diet affects marbling? Restaurants gain prestige by serving quality products (and they can charge more for them), so restaurant chefs have made their own connections with high quality meat producers. Now that we eat a lot more meat prepared in restaurant kitchens than in our own, it seems natural that customers would start inquiring about getting their hands on some of the same meat their favorite restaurants serve. We want what the experts want, and the most visible experts today are chefs.
We see this primarily at holidays, which makes sense: even Americans who don’t cook on a regular basis try to roast a turkey at Thanksgiving (sort of like the people who show up to church just on Christmas and Easter). And restaurants are obliging. Typically offered as part of their holiday catering menus for pre-order, they’ll sell you a free-range, antibiotic- and hormone-free local turkey raised by whatever farm they’ve been sourcing from for their own use.
Applewood in Park Slope, Brooklyn had local, pasture-raised turkeys from Oink & Gobble Farm in Interlaken, NY ready for pre-order earlier this month, and Prime Meats had turkeys from an Amish farm in Lancaster, PA. Seersucker in Carroll Gardens had organic, local birds for sale roasted and ready to eat, as did Bklyn Larder (Franny’s retail offshoot). In Minneapolis, Lucia’s had turkeys available through their To Go shop, and the Birchwood Café sold free-range turkeys from Wild Acres in northern Minnesota. Most of these restaurants also offered prepared sides and desserts, making their restaurant your one stop shop for Thanksgiving cooking.
Ordering your entire Thanksgiving meal from a locavore restaurant is definitely in the “luxury” category: you’d be hard pressed to get any of these birds for under $50, and many run closer to $100 if they’re ready to eat. But restaurants wouldn’t offer to do special orders if it wasn’t profitable, which means that there are people willing to pay for something that isn’t a Butterball from the freezer section at Walmart. The people (at least a small portion of them) are demanding a different kind of relationship with their meat sellers and producers, and where butcher shops were once the obvious choice, now restaurants are filling that role. As demand grows, will we see more restaurateurs opening retail shops that look a bit like the butcher shops of yesteryear? We’ll have to check back next Thanksgiving.

NC Processor Mays Meats goes organic!

Our friends and Affiliate Members of The Butcher’s Guild, shared this story with us about a slaughter and cut-and-wrap facility in North Carolina and their adoption of the organic standards and certifiication process. Good work to all involved, we are proud to know you!

Taylorsville, North Carolina- In a boon to the local and niche meat industry in North Carolina, a Taylorsville meat processing company has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to process certified organic meats. For over 30 years, Mays Meats has provided custom and inspected meat processing services to local farmers who produce and sell niche meat products in local marketing channels.

Mays Meats has been a leader in supporting the growth of the local meat industry by providing high quality inspected meat processing services (e.g., slaughter, fabrication and value-added product development). Longtime Mays Meats employee, Misty Dyson, coordinated the effort for USDA National Organic Program certification. “Our customers do a great job raising animals responsibly; having the option for processing under organic certification provides them with a level of third party verification that many consumers find valuable. Mays Meats is happy to provide this service to farmers as part of an overall effort to help them better market their meat products,” Dyson says.

Local beef producer Shelly Eagan, of Cleveland County’s Proffitt Family Farms, worked closely with Mays Meats in navigating the application process for organic certification. “Misty and I started working together on this back in February 2011. I really don’t think we could have done it without working together. Our beef has been certified organic for the 3 years but we couldn’t legally market using an organic label because we had nowhere to have the animals slaughtered under organic certification. We’re thrilled to now have that option. I think there are a lot of folks out there who are actually raising animals ‘organically’ who might consider getting certified now that they can actually make those claims on their labels.”NC Choices Coordinator, Casey McKissick, notes, “It’s exciting to see the positive outcome of farmers and processors working together toward a common goal. It’s these types of partnerships across the supply chain that are moving the local meat industry forward in North Carolina. Mays Meats is the only commercial processor in North Carolina to provide slaughter and cut and wrap services under organic certification. This will create more market opportunities for local livestock producers and product choices for local consumers.”Niche meats are meat products marketed based on attributes such as “organic,” “local,” “pasture-raised,” “grass-fed,” “humanely raised,” and “grown without antibiotics or added hormones.” The local and niche meat industry in North Carolina has enjoyed unprecedented growth in recent years, bringing new economic opportunities for farmers, processors and other industries that support the local food economy.

A recent review of meat and poultry sales through natural foods retailers shows the “natural and organic
sector” growing at a much stronger rate than conventional meat and poultry sales. For example,
between 2008 and 2010, nationwide red meat sales increased 1.7 percent whereas natural and organic
red meat sales increased by 15 percent (Mintel 2010).

According to the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), there has been a steep
increase in the number of farmers in North Carolina who are securing their meat handlers’ registrations—
a requirement for transporting and selling packaged, inspected meat. As of November 2011, 499 farmers held a
meat handler’s registration. That number is nearly four-fold increase since 2007 (NCDA 2011).

For more information on processing services at Mays Meats see or contact
Misty Dyson at 828-632-7081.
To stay informed of the latest in news, issues and educational opportunities related to the local meat industry in NC, join the NC Choices email listserv at
NC Choices is an initiative of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) dedicated to advancing the local, niche meat industry in North Carolina through technical assistance,
educational programming, and networking opportunities.

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