Saturday, May 28, 2011

Congratulations, Mr. Facebook!

As some of you meat news followers may have heard, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has just announced that he will eat only animals he has personally slaughtered. The Butcher's Guild is thrilled with this news and we've invited Mr. Social Network himself to join our ranks. This move toward accountability and responsibility for the food we eat is something most of us cutters take very seriously. Whole animal butchery is what this guild is all about, but before we get to the blood-stained aprons and fat-covered knives, somebody's got to make that fatal blow (or cut). Due to USDA regulations, most butchers and chefs don't get to take part in this process. Conversely, many processors don't get to follow their products all the way to the table. For Mr. Zuckerberg to take on this challenge is an inspiration for all of us to become even more connected to the cycle of life that feeds us and the sober moment that is a requisite element in that cycle, and we here at The Butcher's Guild applaud his efforts.

BG founders Tia Harrison and Marissa Guggiana sent this invitation soon after news broke. We certainly hope Mark Zuckerberg takes us up on the offer to join the most cutting-edge meat cutters in the country!

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

The Butcher’s Guild, a national organization uniting sustainability-minded butchers and eaters, is honored to number you among the enlightened carnivores. We want to celebrate your commitment to conscious eating with an invitation to join our guild. This membership will link you to our network of the great butchers and whole-animal chefs of the country to help you find a path to your protein and plate with recipes, butchery lessons and techniques.

Congratulations on this meaty mission to further your personal growth. If you kill it, you need to cut it, cure it and cook it.

We’re here for you,

Tia Harrison and Marissa Guggiana, Founders, The Butcher’s Guild

We'll be waiting for Mr. Zuckerberg's response. Click on this post's title to be linked to a news article and video!

There are also a few new videos up in the sidebar, including a couple from the NC Choices Conference!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Meet The Butcher's Guild!

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!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

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!