Red is His Signature Color

My grandpa, Doug,  use to say,

If it ain't red, it ain't no good.


I think his love of the color red started with his first pair of cowboy boots - Every truck and barn he ever owned were painted red until the day he died.

As I sat with my bulging bags piled next to me at one of the slate tables on the patio of McDario (Dario Cecchini’s burger joint located conveniently next door to his macelleria), the noon Italian sun beat down on the black table where Dante, Zac, and I sat. My companions had joined me for my last meal before I was to head to Florence. We took in the namesake meal of the restaurant – the “McDario” - a very thick, burger patty cooked in beef tallow and served with a side of tallow fries. Even though this was the end of my time in Panzano, I wasn’t ready to head to the bus station. Not quite yet.

I grabbed a permanent marker from my bag and headed next door to the macelleria. When I saw a break in the action behind the counter, I seized the opportunity.

Dario, posso avere una firma?”

I asked as I held out my hat and the marker.


He exclaimed as he produced a giant red marker from inside his vest.

Of course Dario had a red marker. It’s his signature color that matches his ubiquitous pants, socks and plastic crocs that he wears every day, seven days a week! I have a feeling Dario and my grandfather would have gotten along quite well.

Dario signing my Stetson with his large red permanent marker.

Dario signing my Stetson with his large red permanent marker.

I showed him the section in my hat designated for his signature and away he went. When he returned it, I realized he had found a new place for his signature. Inside the crown of my hat,

"EAT MEAT Dario Cecchini"

was scrawled in red and ran all the way through “Panzano, Italy”, past “Lima, Peru” and most of Patagonia. I couldn’t have been happier. I even got him to sign my apron before we embraced and parted ways.

On a sidenote, I can’t begin to describe the incredible generosity and hospitality Dario Cecchini showed me throughout my stay. This man is the reason I became a butcher – a landmark in the butchery industry and a true inspiration to me. Working for him has been surreal. I am deeply honored to call him a mentor and a friend.

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