Friday, June 3, 2011

Meet The Butcher's Guild and the Guild in Action


Adam Tiberio
NYC and Hudson, NY
Dickson’s Farmstand http://dicksonsfarmstand.com/
Tiberio Custom Meats


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?

The first meat job I ever had was eight years ago at a deli counter in Boston. I learned the most about retail cuts in large supermarkets – how they were supposed to look, what they were called, and what to do with them in the kitchen. I’ve tried to take something from every boss or meat manager I’ve ever worked for, but I learned the most from Rick Lemay, a third-generation guy who runs a custom slaughterhouse in New Hampshire. He’s still the best and most well-rounded cutter I know.

I’ve been fortunate to have worked with every conceivable kind of commodity meat - USDA Select/Choice/Prime beef, Wagyu beef, Colorado/New Zealand/Icelandic lamb, Kurobuta pork …pretty much anything you could think of. Thus, when it comes to regionally-raised meat, my perspective is based on quality and the eating experience – I like it because it’s less-intensely handled and almost certainly fresher. I haven’t opened a box of beef in two years, and I feel a lot better about what I put on my plate when I’ve taken it off the rail myself.


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

I think it’s great that meatcutting is becoming a trade people are beginning to respect again, much as it once was. But I also think that it’s becoming a little too over-stylized, and sometimes it seems as if people aren’t attaching themselves to the right aspects of the profession. In my first meat room I packed chicken for four hours each morning, and it wasn’t fun – I wasn’t even allowed to grind beef in my first year as a clerk/apprentice, never mind touch a knife. So it’s a little appalling to me that some people call themselves a “butcher” after a couple of months…it’s a repetitive trade, and it takes more practice than most people are willing to give it. It takes years to even start to really understand what you’re doing when you pick up a piece of meat. You really have to love the legwork, and never be satisfied with your skill-set. I think that the term “master butcher” is totally absurd, because everyone can always get better. There aren’t any “master teachers” or “master doctors.” The media tends to focus on the “youthfulness” of the butcher movement, but I’m still waiting for the media to give more attention to guys who have been cutting and selling meat for decades at a high level.


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 as processors and butchers need to make sure we’re as competent and cross-trained as we possibly can be – that we’re always improving our presentation, our efficiency, our knowledge, and our yields. Why? Because “big beef” has already figured that stuff out down to the most minute detail. Thus, since we’re competing for their customers – trying to influence someone to go to a shop like Dickson’s Farmstand, for instance, instead of a supermarket – everything about the shopping experience needs to be impeccable. From the source of the product to its appearance to the cooking advice, the customer has to be thoroughly wowed. “Big beef” will always be cheaper, but we need to demonstrate that regionally-raised, natural meat has more than a happy story behind it.

Second, we need to make the natural meat movement more commercially-viable. Farmers, processors, and chefs all have to sit down at the table and think about economies of scale – at what volume do we need to perform our respective tasks (and in what manner) so that everyone is making money? If we all understand our costs, then we can figure out ways to control them.


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

Aside from having an excellent opportunity to promote myself as a proprietor (I recently started Tiberio Custom Meats, a USDA-inspected processing company) of a business that falls very much in line with the ethics and mission statement of The Butcher’s Guild, I’m excited to get to know people that I can learn from. I’ve never had another foodservice job outside of meat, so it will be amazing to have a support network of talented, passionate people that come from all walks of the culinary world. I’m ecstatic to be able to ask questions and bounce ideas off of them.


Your absolute favorite cut and preparation method/recipe:

At the risk of shameless self-promotion, I’m going to go ahead and say the Tiberio Steak. It’s the bottom portion of the chuck roll – the multifidus dorsi, which is directly adjacent to the feather bones. The muscle itself is much longer (it continues into the ribeye cap), but the portion that’s the Tiberio Steak runs only between the first and fourth ribs. I did a lot of experimenting with the chuck roll at Dickson’s and its various muscles, but this portion of the multifidus was my favorite; it didn’t have a retail name, so I gave it one.

It doesn’t need much – some fine sea salt beforehand, a little bit of beef fat melted in the pan (or no oil at all, which also works excellently for a good sear), and then a minute or so on each side. It’s such a soft muscle that you tend to lose some flavor if you serve it anywhere past the rare side of medium-rare. I slice it at a bias, and use a little bit of Maldon finishing salt at the end.


The Butcher's Guild is so proud to have such a passionate, articulate cutter among the ranks! Thanks, Adam!

Now on to some fun things. BG members are busy as summer rolls around!

BG founders Tia and Marissa have been on a mission to get the BG word out. Check out these blog posts!

Here they are putting the “DIY” ethos to the test at the Maker Faire.

http://www.effiesheart.com/wordpress/

On July 16th, the BG ladies wil be judging the OnBay Area BBQ Championship in the Oakland Coliseum. All proceeds from this event will benefit the thousands of foster children, youth and families served by Alternative Family Services www.afs4kids.org. All event/tasting tickets must be purchased in advanced at www.bayareabbq.org.

They'll also be judging Cochon 555 this weekend! Who will be SF's Master of Pork this year?

Brad Framerie has an awesomely bloody new video out. Take a look!

http://www.eattv.com/watch/more/true_blood_brad_farmerie_makes_boudin_noir#

Also look for a video of my interview with Brad in the kitchen at Public NYC later next week!

Nothing says summer like a dance party, so Berlin Reed’s Summer Beats & Bacon tour is filling up! Seattle, Portland and San Francisco bacon fiends can start counting down the days til the party hits their town! Avedano’s will play host to the SF night!



With so many members busy playing the game of meat in their own signature style, it’s hard to keep up with all the meaty happenings around the country! Please submit events to : theethicalbutcher@gmail.com

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