Kids + Meat = The Butcher’s Guild at DooFapalooza!

The Butcher’s Guild loves kids so we were thrilled to participate in DooFapalooza, a culinary kids event in Oakland. We brought butchery and fun with face painting (who doesn’t love to see a ruddy-cheeked tyke with ‘I heart PIG’ painted on their face?) and a crafty meat counter, where kids picked out their favorite cut from a menagerie of two-dimensional cuts that they colored, spiced and wrapped, butcher-style!

Meet Guy Arnone!

Gaetano Arnone-
Dickson Farmstand New York, New York

Gaetano Arnone found butchery at his family’s restaurant in Orange, California as a way to save money when his father took ill and he found himself running a restaurant. After studying under the guidance of Master Butcher Dario Cecchini in Tuscany, Gaetano returned to the states and is now the butcher at Dickson Farmstand in New York City, where he continues his goal of communicating to butchers and carnivores the traditions and craft that he has come to respect and love. —-BG Co-founder Tia Harrison

How long have you been a butcher and where did you get your start? Have you been working with “sustainable” meats the whole time and if not, what precipitated your shift in practices?

I began butchering at my father’s restaurant about 6 years ago after he took ill and we had to save money. I went to a market I worked at in high school where I remembered seeing whole animals in the walk-in and being frightened. I asked if I could come in on my off hours and learn. When I arrived I saw the walk-in this time nearly empty with only boxes of bagged meat on shelves. The older butchers had all since retired and there was no one to show me how to break down the animals I was working with. I was truly cutting blind for some time. Figuring it out as I went along. I hand no other choice.

After seeking out the help of other great chefs and butchers, first with Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats in San Francisco and then in Tuscany with my Maestro Dario Cecchini, I saw what good and sustainable meat was. After that there was no turning back and I could only work with meat that I felt was raised in the best possible methods and traditions, both for the animal and the farmer.

What do you think about the current media hype and attention on butchery, butchers and meat in general?

Any attention to traditional butchery in my humble opinion is good as long as it promotes the connection between the butcher and the consumer. There are times when I’m approached to show someone or a group of people how to cut and it’s a bit of a dance to see if they’re really interested in what it is we do and want to learn where their food comes from, or if they just want a picture of themselves holding a pig head. Granted it’s a cool picture but that’s not why I got into this work.

What do you believe is the role butchers in the movement for a sustainable food system and what do you see as the biggest impediment to a truly sustainable meat industry?

Education. The majority of my customers truly do want to know where the food they eat comes from. Butchers work as a conduit to the farmers who, like me, are friends to animals. It’s our job to not only educate them on the providence of the animal but also to work with them and their skill set to make sure that the positive experience they have in the shop is continued through the cooking process and eventually to when the meat hits the table. As Dario says, “That animal already died once. Now make sure they don’t go home and kill it again.”

The biggest impediment I see, again, is education. Once the consumer begins to know what good meat is and how to make it a part of their lifestyle, the producers will have to give the people what they want. If almost everyone can find a way to buy an iphone because they want one, than we just need to let them know how much they’ll love good, humanly raised, sustainable meat.

What does being a member of The Butcher’s Guild mean to you?
I remember that first whole pig I had delivered to my family’s restaurant and how lost I felt. I still think about that pig and hope one day in the great beyond I can apologize for the poor job I did. After that day I knew I needed help and wasn’t sure where to go. I know there are others out there like me that are looking for help and The Butcher’s Guild is that resource. I see the names on the list of charter members and I’m humbled and honored to be involved.

Your absolute favorite cut and preparation method/recipe:
It changes from time to time but right now it’s the Tagliata. It’s an Italian cut that translates to “The Cut”. I like to cut mine from the peeled knuckle into about an 8 oz. rectangle. Then very simply rub the meat with a nice Tuscan olive oil that has a grassy note to it and season with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt. Give it a quick sear on each side for just a minute or so for color, then put it into a 400 degree oven for only about 6-8 minutes. Let rest, cut into strips, and drizzle with the same olive oil and salt.

It’s a simple cut, inexpensive, and easy enough for most apartment living New Yorkers to cook without a grill. It’s the perfect beginner steak and opens the door that friendship and trust between the butcher and the customer.

Thanks, Gaetano!


BG Charter Members in Action

Now that we’ve started to put some faces to the Butcher’s Guild name, check out some of the new and exciting projects involving BG members!
*Kari Underly has just announced the August release of her Bible of Beef, titled “The Art of Beef Cutting” and will be doing a beef breakdown next Wednesday, May 11th as part of the 2011 Beef Boot Camp at the Amherst Courtyard Marriott.
*Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura are rocking it hard in the first few weeks after opening their long-awaited butcher shop in LA. They’ve even had a few days where they sold out of EVERYTHING! Awesome! Lindy & Grundy is bringing good meat to LA and we’re more than proud of these two charter members. Catch up with them in Vegas for All-Star Cochon in July!
*Berlin Reed of The Ethical Butcher, is setting out on a full season of farm-to-table dinners and whole animal-centric events. He’ll be traveling to cities from Sitka, AK to Atlanta to Boston from June through November meeting and collaborating with BG members and other great folks in the good food biz.
*The ladies at Avedano’s have taken pastured and local meats back to the old school with their new meat boxes. Just like the days when you could walk in and find a great deal on local meat, they’ve got boxes to fit every budget and palate! Tia Harrison, Angela Wilson, Melanie Eisemann and Dave the Butcher keep SF in good meat from their perch in Bernal Heights. Check them out if you find yourself in their neck of the woods!
*Chef Craig Deihl is currently making his way around New York City as one of this year’s James Beard nominees! Congrats to Craig!
*BG friend, butcher Cole Ward, has a great and informative DVD out called “The Gourmet Butcher”. Good techniques from a seasoned butcher will show you how to break down pork, lamb, beef and more!
Send all your meaty happenings to and we’ll get them up here!

The Butcher’s Guild Hall of Butchers

As more of our charter members join, The Guild will be honoring esteemed colleagues of its ranks by gifting special membership to its Hall of Butchers. These are butchers and meat scholars with deep experience and unquestionable authority who take a strong stand for education. These experts strongly represent the tenets of the Butcher’s Guild oath, particularly, the “hand” and “voice” elements. As the gatekeeper’s to a wealth of knowledge and history of this trade, they do much to further and improve it by passing their skills on to others. They shape the industry and exemplify the lifelong mastery of skill that defines the craft of whole animal butchery. We believe this vast experience and proven leadership in this industry warrants a special designation among the cutters, curers and creators of The Butcher’s Guild.

We are proud to introduce our very first Hall of Butchers inductee, Dr. Gregg Rentfrow, Professor & Extension Meat Specialist at the University of Kentucky. As mentioned in this post about the Carolina Meat Conference, Dr. Gregg Rentfrow was one of the most outstanding folks we had the pleasure of meeting and working with. Tia, Marissa and I were in awe of the calm and relaxed way in which Dr. Gregg not only possesses immense knowledge of meat science but the personable and approachable way in which he shares it. We were rapt with attention as he taught classes right next to our teaching area. Often one of us saying to the other, “Did you just hear that?” or “Hmm, I didn’t know that” as we listened through the curtains separating our “classrooms”. Everything from great information about the effect of bandsaws on myoglobin to the best jokes we heard all weekend, one might say the Guild was more than captivated by Dr. Rentfrow’s presence at the conference. Personally, Dr. Rentfrow inspires me to continue seeking a more academic approach to the industry and ways to improve it. A dedicated and long educational journey to dig deep into this complex field of study combined with the applied theory and practical base of real experience cutting is the holy grail in my book.

Dr. Gregg was just given the Outstanding Service to Kentucky’s Beef Industry Award by Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association and the American Meat Science Association honored him with their Achievement Award. Dr. Rentfrow is active in the American Meat Science Association, the American Society of Animal Science, the National Country Ham Association, the Mid-State Meat Processors Association and the Kentucky Country Ham Producers Association. Dr. Gregg’s coolness runs even deeper! When he’s not teaching the next generation of industry professionals or working to improve the industry as a whole, you can find him riding his Harley-Davidson and competing in powerlifting meets throughout the Southeast and the Midwest.

The Butcher’s Guild humbly introduces our first Hall of Butchers Member, Dr. Gregg Rentfrow.
Interview by BG Co-founder Tia Harrison.

Dr. Gregg Rentfrow, Ph.D.
University of Kentucky

How long have you been a butcher and where did you get your start?

I started in 1987 in the meat department of the local IGA in my hometown of Shelbyville, IL. I started at the bottom, grinding hamburger and helping the cutters package, overwrap, and label everything. Eventually I worked my way up to a meat cutter, head meat cutter, assistant meat market manager, meat market manager, and zone meat manager for three different retail companies. I ended my retail career with Wal-Mart Supercenters, during the time of the initial explosion of those stores. There, I trained other meat cutters and helped open the new stores. I even served as Interim Meat Lab Manager at Mizzou while working on my Ph.D.

Tell us about what you do now, how did you become a meat scientist?

My appointment at the University of Kentucky is 80% Extension, 20% Teaching. I work closely with the meat industry in Kentucky and the Southeast, which includes everyone from the small, family owned custom butcher shops to the large meat processors harvesting 1200 pigs an hour. Kentucky may be famous for fast horses and smooth bourbon, but we are also know for our country hams. We have several country ham curers that produce products that can be found throughout the Southeast.

I have two major marquee programs, the University of Kentucky Meat Cutting School and the Food Systems Innovation Center. We have trained over 300 retail meat cutters, over 50 foodies, and over 100 chefs at the UK Meat Cutting School. The Food Systems Innovation Center is geared to provide affordable research and development for small and medium sized food entrepreneurs. We are still in the beginnings of this program, but so far we have helped over 50 products make it to the market place or expand into larger markets.

How I became a meat scientist; originally I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps and teach high school agriculture, but the draw of meats kept sucking me back in. I went to junior college, dropped out for a couple years, went back to salvage my GPA enough to transfer to the University of Illinois and major in Animal Science with a Meat Science specialty. I earned my masters in meat science at the U of I, researching the effects of feeding high levels of vitamin D and E on beef quality. After my MS, I transferred to the University of Missouri and earned my PhD in Meat Science and Muscle Biology by studying the effects of postmortem glycogen metabolism on meat quality. I graduated in 1997 with my BS and earned my PhD in 2005, so it has been a long road to become a meat scientist.

What do you think about the current media hype and attention on butchery, butchers and meat in general?

Someone told me that butchers were the new celebrity chefs and the new sex symbol of the food industry. I told the guys in the meats lab about the sex symbol part and they are planning a calendar for next year. I think the old is new again; people are becoming more interested in food and wanting to know more about their food. I feel the biggest challenge facing us in the meat industry is destroying the vast amount of misleading information and internet rumors about meat. I’ve heard some really crazy things over the years, from the ridiculous to the asinine. Regardless of what the media and the internet says, we produce the most wholesome, safest meat and food supply in the world. We have other countries coming to America to learn our food safety regulations and practices. I have trained several people for several different countries on safe food handling and HACCP. I think we need to tell our story and address this misinformation.

What do you believe is the role butchers in the movement for a sustainable food system and what do you see as the biggest impediment to a truly sustainable meat industry?

We are in an unique time in our history; we have more disposable income to spend on a wider variety of foods than ever before. As I said before the old is new, and a well trained, artistic butcher can only help to accelerate the local meat movement and the world meat movement. When I say a well trained, artistic butcher, I mean someone who knows how to properly cook a piece of meat and can recommend a good recipe, knows the science behind the meat, and takes enough pride in their craft that each piece of meat looks like it jumped off of a magazine cover. This is what we need for the meats industry, regardless of local, sustainable, or global. There’s room on the table for everyone; we need the artistic butchers to remind us of what meat can be and we need the large guys to feed the world.

What does being an honored member of The Butcher’s Guild mean to you?

I’m not a wordsmith and my wife will tell you that I don’t communicate my feelings very well, but when I say that words cannot explain the honor, I mean it. It was so great to meet people with the same goal that I have, which is to bring back the local, knowledgeable, respectable butcher. Fictional characters like Sam the butcher (Brady Bunch) or Alex the butcher (Kroger) come to mind when I think of this person. And I feel we are bringing back these images. Hopefully we can remove the image of guy in a red stained apron with the mean look on his face. I really believe in what the Butcher’s Guild is doing and I am extremely humbled by being an honored member.

Your absolute favorite cut and preparation method/recipe:

Favorite cut… tough one for a fat guy to narrow down. You cannot go wrong with a well marbled beef top loin steak, cut a butcher’s inch thick, lightly seasoned with salt, fresh ground black pepper, and garlic powder, cooked on the grill just to the point where a good vet cannot save it. I have been experimenting with smoking these cuts in my new smokehouse at home with some tasty results. Or a good slice of country ham cooked 45 seconds to a minute per side on the grill. As you can see, I’m very much for lightly seasoned and not over cooked, we over season and cook everything


Meet Angela Wilson!

Angela Wilson
Avedano’s Holly Park Market – Owner
San Francisco, CA

How long have you been a butcher and where did you get your start? Have you been working with “sustainable” meats the whole time and if not, what precipitated your shift in practices?

I have been a cook since I was 20 years old. I have been a butcher since I was 40 years old. I opened Avedano’s when I was 37 years old with a cook’s knowledge of meat, using my intuition about what is right. I wanted to sell meat I feel good about selling. Utilizing and selling whole animals is the best way Avedano’s can support small farmers in our area while at the same time helping to create a great dinner in our customer’s homes.

What do you think about the current media hype and attention on butchery, butchers and meat in general?

I THINK people want to know where their food comes from. I think people are ready to face the fact that meat is an animal, who once lived. I think people are hungry, thinking past the supermarket and neatly packaged cuts to life on a farm. These farms are struggling, butcher shops are struggling, everybody is struggling, they can relate. I don’t know if the interest in meat and animals and butchering would be possible during the boom of dot com; with this bad economy, it is back to the basics of life.

What do you believe is the role butchers in the movement for a sustainable food system and what do you see as the biggest impediment to a truly sustainable meat industry?

A butcher can dedicate her/himself to small farms, using whole animals. A butcher can educate the customer about different cuts so it doesn’t matter if you use shanks or neck or shoulder in a recipe. At Avedano’s, we cut two lambs a week so we have to recommend alternatives. Lack of a local slaughter house is a big stumbling block for sustainable meat. Also, as a butcher shop owner, it is not economical to cut and sell sides of beef, we break even.

What does being a member of The Butcher’s Guild mean to you?

Being a member of the Butcher’s Guild means being part of a community of like-minded people who want small farms to thrive, small business to thrive and to live a life worth living.

Your absolute favorite cut and preparation method/recipe:

Lamb neck:

Peeled and cleaned. Oven 400 degrees. Rub with a tiny bit olive oil, salt, pepper and place in dutch oven for 2-3 hours. Fall off the bone delicious.

Short, simple and to the point, that lamb neck recipe sounds incredible! Thanks, Angela!


Meet Founder Tia Harrison!

Tia Harrison
Co-founder of The Butcher’s Guild
Executive Chef at Sociale
Owner of Avedano’s Holly Park Market
San Francisco, CA

What does being the founder The Butcher’s Guild mean to you?

Co-Founding The Butcher’s Guild has been an amazingly inspirational experience. The Guild was created to do what guilds do. To create a support system for meat professionals, to preserve the craft of butchery and to adhere to a moral code. To create rewards and recognition for our heritage, integrity and community is where I want to spend my energy and passion. I often think about the fact that most of the people who are butchering right now are doing it because they want to give their customers tastier, more nourishing meat. They want to use their hands to create something really special and support a farmer that is doing it right. These things deserve consumer support and I feel we need to help create that. The Guild’s purpose is natural and genuine and reveals itself to me through every conversation, experience and friend I make in the industry.

How long have you been a butcher and where did you get your start? Have you been working with “sustainable” meats the whole time and if not, what precipitated your shift in practices?

I am Executive Chef and co-owner of Sociale Restaurant, and co-owner of Avedano’s, a neighborhood butcher shop. I started butchering when we opened Avedano’s. I spent six months freezing in a walk-in cooler “working” it out. I had no idea what I was in for, but I had years of working with the end result in my restaurant. All I had to do is figure out how to put it back together in my mind, then break it down and make it look better, right? Not quite. I am really lucky, I have had many great teachers. I have massive respect for butchers and cutters and I will always remain on the path of continuing to educate myself.

When I started cooking fifteen years ago, consumers were not asking questions about where their food came from. My shift to working with more “sustainable” meats came about as a natural result of constantly working to hone in on the best, most delicious products available and tell my customers where they came from.

What do you think about the current media hype and attention on butchery, butchers and meat in general?

I think consumers want to be able to make choices and have sufficient information to do so. The many years prior, void of this knowledge, just didn’t feel right. Now discerning consumers are asking better questions. As butchers, we play a big role in getting this information to our customers. We are in the position to create consumer trust through honest labeling and product education. We can help our customers try new cuts of meat or preparations. I think it’s huge and deserves attention.

What do you believe is the role butchers in the movement for a sustainable food system and what do you see as the biggest impediment to a truly sustainable meat industry?

I believe one of the most important roles of being a butcher now is consumer education. I think it is paramount to the success of professionals who source and break animals from small, local farms. We are dealing with an industry of unforgiving margins and short shelf life. We really need to focus on the details, crunch the numbers to ensure that we are profitable and use all of the animal. Consumers need to understand why it costs more to shop with a local butcher than at a chain supermarket. And more importantly, why it matters.

Your absolute favorite cut and preparation method/recipe:

It depends on the meal. I really can’t say that I love flap meat or skirt steak better than, say, pork shoulder because that would make me a liar. I will say I love to quick grill and braise though- either cook it fast and rare, or slow and soft. Sounds like me: no middle ground.

Thanks tons, Tia! I’ve actually got a nice pork shoulder recipe for today’s Friday Feast!

Just as Tia said, pork shoulder is all about “slow and soft”. This melt in your mouth braised shoulder will make great pulled pork if you let it go long enough, if you’d prefer a sliceable roast, simply pull the shoulder out when it reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees F and allow to rest before cutting to keep in all those luscious juices! I’ve tried it with all types of whiskey and this floral/herbal rub is always a hit!

Woodland Herb Pork Shoulder

5-6 lbs bone-in pork shoulder
1 tsp. chopped pine needles, from the green tips of new growth.
1 tbs. lavender
1 tbs. juniper berries
1/2 tsp ground star anise
1 tbs fresh sage
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 tbs. kosher salt
white pepper

whiskey-maple glaze for basting-
1/3 c. maple syrup
2 tbs. whiskey
pinch lavender
pinch pepper

May be marinated up to 3 days, the longer the better. Place shoulder in large bowl or on large baking sheet. Pour maple syrup over entire shoulder, making sure to get in all crevices. In a small bowl, mix kosher salt and all other ingredients, rub on shoulder in same manner as maple syrup. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-36 hours.

Remove from fridge and allow to return to near room temp while oven heats to 350 degrees. Once shoulder has lost its chill, heat a large preferably cast-iron skillet. If you do not have a pan that can go from stove to oven, you’ll need both a skillet and roasting pan.

Heat the skillet on medium-high and when hot, place shoulder in pan fat side down and sear to a dark caramel. Sear on both sides then place shoulder fat side up. Baste with small amount of glaze. Move skillet from the stove to the oven, or move to roasting pan and then oven if necessary. Roast to an internal temp of 160 degrees F, about 2.5 hours. If you would like more of a pulled pork consistency, roast to 190-200 degrees F. During last hour of roasting, baste shoulder in glaze every 10-15 minutes. Baste with remainder of glaze immediately upon removing from oven. Let rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve with veggie sides and a starch, or make a nice herbaceous twist on a pulled pork sammy by whipping up a tangy mustard-vinegar sauce and slapping all this goodness on a fresh roll with slaw.



Meet Founder Marissa Guggiana!

I am so happy to post this introduction!
Meet Marissa Guggiana, co-founder of Butcher’s Guild!

Marissa Guggiana

Berkeley, CA

How long have you been a butcher and where did you get your start? Have you been working with “sustainable” meats the whole time and if not, what precipitated your shift in practices?

I began running Sonoma Direct, a USDA-inspected wholesale meat processor, in 2005. I am not a butcher myself but know well the challenges and rewards of the meat industry through running a business, trying to make a profit and make a difference. When we opened, we were only butchering large quantities of imported meat and selling cuts to hotels in Vegas, by the truckload. My curiosity and conscience led us to a model of working only with local farms and customers.

What do you think about the current media hype and attention on butchery, butchers and meat in general?

Fascination is a good thing. It can only help to make a permanent shift in our eating habits. Butchery is hard work and requires a great deal of skill and intelligence to be profitable. Renewed appreciation for this work is appropriate and heartening.

What do you believe is the role of butchers in the movement for a sustainable food system and what do you see as the biggest impediment to a truly sustainable meat industry?

Our food system has centralized for reasons that are hard to combat- financially and logistically, it makes sense to centralize, if you are going to feed a large population cheaply. But, as anyone who studies systems understands, diversity is important- in business and in nature. We need alternative routes to nourishment and we need these local food systems to be viable for everyone on the food chain. Butchers are the key to getting meat from farms to tables. They hold the knowledge to turn animals into protein and to instruct us in how to prepare that meat. So many of us have lost the will or knowledge to cook and butchers are helping to restore that knowledge.

What does being a member of The Butcher’s Guild mean to you?

Starting The Butcher’s Guild is the dream of being able to support all the talented and committed butchers and meat pros. When I was writing Primal Cuts: Cooking With America’s Best Butchers, i learned so much about the struggles of others’. Even many of our most famous and inventive meat people are challenged to make money and stay afloat. I want this industry to be here in ten years! I hope The Butcher’s Guild will have a hand in distributing the collective wisdom and solutions so that we can all thrive.

Your absolute favorite cut and preparation method/recipe:

The best cut is the one I am eating! I like to spread the love around. But when it comes to cooking at home, I love shoulders- beef chuck, pork butt and lamb shoulder. I am a braiser and relish the cuts that can stand up to the long heat.

Thanks, Marissa! Can’t wait to get Tia’s intro up as well!
It’s finally time for another Friday Feast! I’ve got a good one for tomorrow that would fit right into Marissa’s favorite cuts category.

Meet Kari Underly!

I am still working on a big in depth post about the Carolina Meat Conference and catching up with all the work that piled up while we were wielding knives in the wilds of North Carolina. As we continue to build up our charter membership, I am so excited to keep rolling out the impressive roster we are creating. Take a look at this seasoned meatcutter we are proud to count among our ranks!

Kari Underly
Chicago, IL
Range, Inc

How long have you been a butcher and where did you get your start? Have you been working with “sustainable” meats the whole time and if not, what precipitated your shift in practices?

I can honestly say that I was born into butchery. I was surrounded by butchers on both sides of my family. My love and appreciation for the craft started as a young girl at Underlyʼs Market, my fatherʼs small country butcher shop and ice cream parlor in Lydick, IN. Eventually, I would go through a three year in-house apprentice program at Martinʼs Super Market in South Bend, IN to become a journeyman meat cutter. I worked my way up the management ladder to become their first female Meat and Seafood Merchandiser. While working at Martinʼs, I went to school and earned a bachelorʼs degree in Business Administration. It wasnʼt long before I started my own company, Range, Inc. We specialize in helping companies in the perishables marketplace develop merchandising tools and new strategies to help grow business. I have always been dedicated to the sustainability of the craft. Much of my time and energy has been spent in the training and education of meat cutters and food service operators. I have an intimate knowledge of bovine anatomy, and each muscleʼs profile. This has proven invaluable in my quest to develop original and resourceful ways to utilize the animal by creating cut plans and generating undervalued cuts to bring profit to the entire channel.

What do you think about the current media hype and attention on butchery, butchers and meat in general?

“Hype” insinuates an exaggeration of importance or benefits. The attention is real and well deserved. The renewed interest in butchery and the desire to know where your food comes from is not a trend. It is a movement. This shift back to the “closer to home” model is precipitated by the publicʼs demand for understanding the origin and nature of the meat they are eating. Consumers want to know where their meat comes from; they want to know that the animal was humanely raised and slaughtered. And they want to know how to cut it. Not only do food service operators and chefs want to know, consumers are also interested in learning the details of butchery. This makes me happy. I am thrilled to be involved in bringing back the appreciation for our craft and helping people develop their skills to sustain the art of butchery.

What do you believe is the role of butchers in the movement for a sustainable food system and what do you see as the biggest impediment to a truly sustainable meat industry?

A sustainable meat industry has multiple facets. Yes, it involves limiting our impact on natural resources, and being cognizant about animal welfare matters and food safety, but it also incorporates the effect the industry has on employees and communities. I have a keen interest in the sustainability of the butcher and the customer who consumes the product. The well-being and safety of the employee, along with a good living wage is paramount in maintaining a sustainable meat industry. The shift from shipping sides of beef to shipping boxes of vacuum packed beef has transformed the labor practices in our industry. Employees (including butchers) have been forced into repetitive type jobs which require minimal skill or creativity. The steps between the knock and the finish can be dreary and tedious. Cross training of employees in processing plants and packing houses can go a long way in helping to foster a pride and understanding of the process. There is a renewed demand for the services of the skilled meat cutter. It is an honorable job and a dying craft. There is a shortage of the craftswo/man who is able to take a hanging carcass from the plant to portions for the plate. The key is training and education. The role of butchers (and chefs) is to learn to cut and maximize the entire carcass, and teach the consumer to appreciate cuts from the whole animal. There is an increased cost at every level to maintain a sustainable meat industry. My conversations with meat loving consumers around the country have convinced me that people are ready and willing to pay more for high quality, ethically raised and managed animals.

What does being a member of The Butcher’s Guild mean to you?

Honored. Excited. Challenged. This is an important time in our industry and change is happening quickly. There is a desire to support local, sustainable farms and a healthy food system. Professionals and consumers alike are hungry for knowledge and skills regarding whole animal butchery and meat cutting. I feel Iʼve been given an opportunity to help bring back the art of butchery and in turn, quality jobs to our communities. This is my passion. I look forward to working with my colleagues on such an important movement.

Your absolute favorite cut and preparation method/recipe:

My favorite cut is the ribeye cap – not the outside blade cap, but the internal portion of the ribeye. Start by removing the blade. Follow the fat seam underneath the cartilage, trim away any heavy, unwanted fat, and remove the back-strap. At this point, you should see the fat cover of the spinalis dorsi (ribeye cap). I use my hands and feel for the seam between the longissimus dorsi (LD muscle) and the spinalis dorsi. (There is one more little gem of a muscle you will find here, it is the posterior end of the complexus. Itʼs shaped like a big chicken tenderloin. Experiment with this cut using dry heat cooking methods.) Use the pull and seam method to separate the muscles and remove the fat (use the fat to blend in to your hamburger). Finish by using your knife to completely separate the two muscles. I leave some fat on the external side, and remove the silver from the internal side.

Marinate with fresh, seasonal citrus (I like a lime and orange combination), fresh garlic, and a little pepper. Remember, this is the third most tender muscle in the carcass, so thereʼs no need to marinate for long, itʼs just for flavor. You can portion it out if you like, but I like to leave it whole and grill over wood coals. Sear over direct heat, and finish over indirect heat. Let rest for 10 minutes, slice thin on a wood carving board. Serve with fresh corn or flour tortillas, grilled jalapeno, fresh avocado, and tomatoes. Enjoy with a glass of your best tequila – neat. I call it “Tequila Solo”.

Meet Chris Cosentino!

Chris Cosentino
San Francisco, CA
Incanto & Boccalone Salumeria

How long have you been a butcher and where did you get your start? Have you been working with “sustainable” meats the whole time and if not, what precipitated your shift in practices?

I have been working in restaurants since I was a kid. After I graduated from Johnson & Wales, I moved to D.C. to work for Mark Miller at the Red Sage. This was the first time I worked with whole animals; goat & venison from good sources. There was so much whole meat fabrication there. The restaurant had 2 full time butchers. What a great first job environment. After that I didn’t get to work with whole animals for a while, until I came to the Bay Area. When I got to Incanto that was one of the first things I started to do. 8 years later I am still doing it. We are serving more offal then ever and the demand from the customers is growing.

What do you think about the current media hype and attention on butchery, butchers and meat in general?

The more the better! It is an education for the public to hear and see this, which will have a trickle effect. It will be just like the sushi movement, first no one understood it, now it’s all over and the norm.

What do you believe is the role of butchers in the movement for a sustainable food system and what do you see as the biggest impediment to a truly sustainable meat industry?

We need to correct a broken system that was created mainly by the industrialization of meat production. Now Americans expect cheap food, but they don’t understand that you get what you pay for. We have to break the cycle. Butchers can help through education and a commitment to honoring the whole animal.

What does being a member of The Butcher’s Guild mean to you?

I am honored to be among such a group of talent and forward thinking chefs & butchers. We are helping bring back a time honored trade and tradition. I feel that this is an opportunity for a group of like-minded meat loving chefs & butchers a platform to work from. This gives us all an ability to share issues, and important information.

Your absolute favorite cut and preparation method/recipe:

Choosing a favorite cut of meat is like choosing a favorite child it’s just not right. I like skeletal meat cooked on the bone-they have more flavor. In regards to offal cuts, it’s all about what I am in the mood for.

Venison Kidneys with Spicy Lentils & Mint

Serves 4

4 Venison Kidneys
½ cup all purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1 cup green lentils
4 cups chicken stock
1 whole carrot
1 whole onion
1 whole head garlic, split
1 bunch thyme
1 bay leaf
1 bunch parsley stems
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup picked mint
½ cup slivered garlic
1 Fresno chili or a jalapeño
½ cup lemon juice

Remove the membrane from the outside of the kidney. Split the kidney in half and remove and discard the fibrous membrane from each side. While cleaning the kidneys, rinse the lentils in cold water, then place in a non-reactive pot and cover with water, bring to a boil. Once they have come to a boil, strain and rinse again with cold water. Place the lentils again in a non-reactive pot with the whole onion, carrot, split garlic head and tied herb bundle then cover with the chicken stock. Cook the lentils slowly until they are tender, once tender remove the vegetables and cook in their cooking liquid.

Dry the kidneys, season with salt and pepper; lightly dust with seasoned flour. Heat butter in a pan. Crack a garlic clove and add a thyme branch; sizzle for a minute, then add the kidneys. Sear until golden brown, and then flip over, cook until medium rare. While the kidney is cooking, in another pan heat olive oil and sizzle the slivered garlic, chili flakes then add the lentils and toss gently to incorporate. Deglaze the pan with lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, toss in the torn mint.

Place the spicy lentil and mint of each of the four warm plates, lay two halves of kidney on top of the lentils, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

Thanks Chris!! Tia, Marissa and I are here in North Carolina setting up for the Carolina Meat Conference. As a perk, we’ve all been offered a few laps around the Charlotte Motor Speedway!! So, we’re off to the track! Catch you tomorrow for another Friday Feast!

Meet Brad Farmerie!


Brad Farmerie
Executive chef, Public and Double Crown, NYC

How long have you been a butcher and where did you get your start? Have you been working with “sustainable” meats the whole time and if not, what precipitated your shift in practices?

I have been a cook/chef for about 16 years + or -, but didn’t really get into butchering whole animals and larger cuts until about 10 years ago. Up until that time, most of the restaurants that I worked in used prefabricated portions, but at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons , Chef Raymond Blanc had a vision that included vegetables grown right on the property and whole animals (for everything except beef and veal) from local farms that raised animals specifically for Le Manoir. It was a serious change of operation watching the sous chefs leaving vegetable requests with the folks in charge of the garden and calling farms directly to get the meat order. It dealt with building relationships with people that you know are working just as hard as you are to produce amazing items, and supporting those people to make sure that those animals are looked after from paddock to plate.

Later on I went back to work with the iconic New Zealand chef Peter Gordon. The sheer size of the kitchen at his restaurant (or lack thereof) didn’t allow for whole animals but definitely taught me respect for the more unusual cuts and offal. His philosophy and support of farms across the UK, along with farms (and the personalities) in Australia and New Zealand gave me a better insight into trying to work with great people doing great things with food instead of painting yourself into a corner of hard core “local” product. Many of the operations I work with may not be local, but they have a small scale and sustainable outlook that is amazing and should be supported.

What do you think about the current media hype and attention on butchery, butchers and meat in general?

It means I can finally give up the hard hours and retire, right?

It’s definitely a good thing, and anyone that says otherwise is a loca enchilada. There is a chance to change the slippery slope of American nepotism towards the shrink wrapped boneless, skinless, and flavorless flesh. The media almost has to be a part of it to make it work.

What do you believe is the role of butchers in the movement for a sustainable food system and what do you see as the biggest impediment to a truly sustainable meat industry?

I think the ideal role of a butcher in a sustainable movement is to be able to desensitize their customers to the cut of an animal on offer and to celebrate the flesh itself. The insight that a meat professional can offer on guidance to meat selection and cooking technique is invaluable. This would use a seriously suggestive sell (with tons of advice) on how to use the cut.

The biggest impediment is preconceived notions, personal history, lack of information, and anything else that keeps folks from buying the whole beast.

What does being a member of The Butcher’s Guild mean to you?

Hopefully it means that many of the decisions I made way back when were good ones. Its an honor to be amongst the best in the business and I’m just looking forward to helping in any way possible.

Your absolute favorite cut and preparation method/recipe:

That’s like asking me to pick my favorite family member! There are too many great choices, each with their own cool and quirky reason for being chosen. I’ll narrow it just a little, but don’t tell anyone I’m playing favorites…

Deboned pork neck “steak”-simply lubed up with EVO and seasoned with Maldon salt and a quick grind of pepper- thrown on the grill till medium, rested, and passed across the line while we are in the middle of a busy service at the restaurant. It helps to make the whole night look a whole lot better. No shit- I am literally eating a super delicious one (post service) as I type this. I always hear folks recommending to cook this bit of deliciousness in a braise or slow and long roast, but I think that just squeezes the personality right out of it.

Wagyu tongue- I’m a huge fan of this. It takes all of the (ridiculously slim) willpower that I have to resist the temptation of sampling the goodness while prepping it between the poach and grill phase – some of those succulent back slices may never make it. We usually cook this one in a slow poach (super aromatic and acidic broth) till tender, peeled, portioned, and grilled.

Thanks to Brad Farmerie! Have a great weekend, and if you are in NYC, head to Public for Brunch!


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