A revived interest in butchery is a win-win for chefs and local producers.
By Jan Greenberg
IT WAS the most unlikely location
imaginable—Kingston, a city in upstate
New York with more storefronts vacant
than occupied and miles of generic big-box
chains and fast-food establishments. But in
2004, Josh and Jessica Applestone opened
Fleisher’s Meats, at the time the nation’s
only butcher selling local, humanely raised,
grass-fed meats. Two years later, unable to
make ends meet, they closed the doors.
that include Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at
Stone Barns, Danny Meyer’s Gramercy
Tavern and Mario Batali’s Casa Mono. The
Applestones offer classes, demonstrations
and intensive multiweek apprenticeships
for aspiring butchers and meat fabricators.
Clearly, times have changed.
of Agriculture, Lexington, Ky., where he
teaches meat science, including slaughter,
at the school’s slaughterhouse and meat
fabrication facility, licensed by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Flash forward to today. The Applestones’
reopened store, Fleisher’s Grass-Fed &
Organic Meats, still in Kingston, not only
sells meat to a stream of steady customers
but offers regular delivery to New York
City dwellers and supplies restaurants
MEET THE BUTCHER
Among the many workshops at October’s
Chefs Collaborative National Summit in
Boston, “Meet the Butcher” was standing-
room only as interested chefs and culinary
professionals watched Gregg Rentfrow
break down half a steer and a whole
pig. Rentfrow is an assistant professor
at the University of Kentucky College
“I started out as a retail meat cutter,”
Rentfrow says. “The only time I saw
anything other than boxed beef was
once a year when we had a 4-H [Club]
beef come into the store. In my mind, the
evolution of boxed meat took away the art
of butchery, certainly among retail store
employees, but among chefs, as well.”
The workshop was moderated by Bob
Perry, former executive chef for the