Keeping It Under My Hat

Last week marked one year since a TCU professor in an entrepreneurship class changed my life. That, plus a tiny tap from a sledgehammer wielded by the Big Guy upstairs is what finally got my attention and toppled my corporate career before it ever had a chance to start. Then and there, I determined to trade my Brooks Bros suit for a butcher’s apron and I promised myself I was going to be the best butcher I could be.

Not to sound haughty or arrogant, but if a guy is going to dream, he better dream big, right?


To be the best would mean I had to go back to square one to learn the craft. It meant tracking down the foremost butchers in the world and learning directly from them. Not only did I need to learn the lost art of butchery but also I needed to understand nose to tail philosophies, sustainable and humane practices, as well as the ubiquitous knife skills for primal and sub-primal cuts.

To keep myself focused and on track, I decided to keep my goals close to me. I wanted to look at them every day, especially on days when things weren’t going so well. I decided to list my goals and to keep them under my hat. Literally, inside my old Stetson, I have written:

  • Brooklyn, New York( This represents Fleisher's Butcher School and the first leg of my journey)
  • Gascony, France(The 2nd leg of my journey to study charcuterie with the masterful, Kate Hill)
  • Panzano, Italy(An apprenticeship with 8th generation butcher, Dario Cechini - the rock star among butchers)
  • Lima, Peru(An apprenticeship with Renzo Garibaldi – the Meat Prophet of Peru)
  • Patagonia(To learn the art of outdoor, Argentinian cooking from one of the world’s great chefs, Francis Mallmann)

Then at the very center of the crown, I added an appropriate scripture for my journey:

It is written, “ Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word from the mouth of God.


Perfect, don’t you think?

Endnote: I'm not certain if any or all of these masters will even take me on as an apprentice, but I'm going to give it a shot knowing God has everything under control. I've trusted Him this far and I know He's not going to leave me hanging out on a limb.  My work is to be patient and trust in His timing.

I am so blessed to be able to follow my dreams, none of which would be possible without the loving support of my family, so please follow along here at or through my Instagram or Facebook sites.

I don’t speak a word of French or Italian so I’m sure this might be interesting at best!

Photo credit: Mitchell Franz Photo

Packin' Pork

All I have been talking about for the last three months is how good the pasture-raised pork is from Fleishers.

  • How it tastes like pork is suppose to taste.
  • How breeders are breeding the fat back in after the anti-fat stigma of the 70s.
  • How modern farmers are raising these animals on open range and supplementing their diets with tubers and apples.

So the family mandate was in. They wanted me to put up or shut up. Mom had scheduled a tamale making class for when I got home so I thought it would be perfect timing if I packed some pork back to Texas for Christmas tamales. Just one small problem, well, actually one big problem, how was I going to get all of my belongings and the pork packed in my suitcase?

I never got rid of the boxes I originally shipped my stuff up to New York in. They actually turned out to be multi-purpose, standing in as chest-of-drawers, a nightstand and a dining table. So flipping the boxes upright, I crammed in all of my earthly processions: espresso machine, cook books, cutting boards, boots and bedding and shipped them back to Texas via the neighborhood UPS store. That left me with my carry-on for the plane and one 55lb. box of pork as checked baggage.

Let me pause here to itemize the contents of my checked baggage: two 13 lb. Boston butts, four Frenched pork chops cut 1” thick, and one large hog’s head perfect for tamales.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I wish I had one to show you here, but I don’t. Just try to picture this scene in your head if you will:

I sauntered up to LaGuardia’s Southwest Airlines check-in and presented my documents for boarding. I then hoisted my box of pork onto the luggage scales and waited for my baggage claim check. It was at this point that Miss LaGuardia informed me that I must use "Southwest Airline approved boxes" for my belongings. Ok, no problem. So there on the spot I begin to unpack and transfer my pork to the approved shipping box.

Lets just say that Miss LaGuardia’s eyes moved to “alert” status when the lovely pink chops surfaced. By the time I was transferring the hog’s head, she was on full "Silence of the Lambs” alert. But the best part was when I reached down and grabbed my knife roll, looked up at her and said,

Ma'am, I’m a butcher and I am going to pull out my knives now.

I just wanted to let you know.

After a gasp then a pregnant pause, her relieved expression showed she now comprehended that indeed I was not Hannibal Lector, but an actual butcher. With the color returning to her face, Miss LaGuardia waved off security and finally handed me my baggage claim check. (Something tells me she is going to let the next guy in line slide with his cardboard boxes.)


My flight from LaGuardia to Chicago was easy, but the last leg into Austin seemed like it would never end. I was more than ready to be home, so I pre-maturely unbuckled “before the plane had come to a full and complete stop.” I grabbed my carry-on and quickly located my pork box at baggage claim. As I went to the outside curb for pick up, I spotted the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. There she was. Waiting curbside for me. Black hair, black eyes and fluorescent hunting collar. I dropped everything as my Remi ran to me for a good ear scratchin’ and face lick.

Home, sweet home.


Final Note: I’m back in Texas for a bit to re-group and plan my next leg of my carnivorous journey. In the meantime, I will be holding some jerky and sausage making classes. If you are interested, send me a message in the “contact me” section.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and eats well this holiday season. I sure will!

Meat Monger

meat monger mēt mon·ger (noun)

1. A dealer in or trader of meats.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I was blessed to have my mother and brother fly up to visit me for the holidays. We did a little bit of everything. I tagged along on some of Mom’s business meetings, we toured Central Park in a rickshaw, saw School of Rock on Broadway, and ate some amazing food. If you are visiting New York City anytime soon, be sure to check out my Eats page where I list some awesome places to “break bread.”

Thanksgiving Day in Central Park with my family

I am now down to my last two weeks in the Fleishers Butcher Apprenticeship. For the past week, I have been stationed in one of their retail shops in Park Slope, a section of Brooklyn. It is a charming, old-school, neighborhood butcher shop. There, I am shadowing the head butcher, Josh Meehan, and assisting with setting and maintaining the meat cases. The shop is a much more fast-tempo environment with customers rushing to procure their meats for the holidays. I’ve had to set aside my cut glove, which I had grown accustomed to. Now, sans glove, I really need to be on my game everyday and careful not to chop a digit or two!

Me in front of Fleisher's Park Slope shop

Josh is teaching me how to take the sub primal cuts coming from the Red Hook production facility and transform them into a more refined case cut. This entails cleaning the meat of any fats, silver skin, and other inedible while forming the meat with our blades into our own kind of carnivorous art.






I head back to Texas the end of next week. I’m excited to see the family and be home for the holidays, but I’m going to miss Fleishers. It’s been a great experience.

Breaking Lamb

In case you didn’t know, for the past two months I’ve been apprenticing at Fleishers Craft Butchery in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Fleishers is the best when it comes to craft butchery and locally sourced, sustainable meats. Over the course of my training, I have learned to break down whole carcass' of pigs, lambs, cattle, and poultry into their primal cuts.

Definition: A primal cut is a piece of meat, usually a muscle group, that is initially separated from the carcass in the butchery process.

There is obviously more division taking place after this initial cut, but primals are the building blocks for butchers. I'd like to share a bit of what goes into breaking down a lamb to a primal cut.

There are four main primal cuts to a lamb. Yeah, I’m sure you can find a chart on Google illustrating 15 different primals and 30 different sub-primals, but let's keep it simple with these basics:

  1. shoulder primal
  2. rib primal
  3. loin primal
  4. leg primal
The lamb shoulder primal

The lamb shoulder primal

Lamb Rib primal

Lamb Rib primal

Lamb loin primal

Lamb loin primal

Lamb leg primal

Lamb leg primal

After I’m done with a lamb, it looks a little like this...

A full lamb broken down

A full lamb broken down

Oh, you see that handsaw?

Yeah, we learn the craft by doing everything old school and that includes a handsaw and muscle. As you can see in the above photo, I’ve broken this lamb carcass down into the four primals plus some extra cuts. I've also taken off the neck, fore-shanks (front legs), hind-shanks (back legs), and the spareribs.

Hopefully, you are still reading this and your head isn’t buried in a trashcan. If it is, have fun eating broccoli and carrots forever. However, if you’re dying to know more… I strapped a GoPro to my cap so you can get a bird's eye view in my Breaking Lamb video.

Check it out here.