Learning The Business of Whole-Animal Butchery

By : Marshka Kiera

Most folks in this country don’t understand what whole animal butchery is or why it’s different. So part of our job is educating and convincing them that this is a better way to do things, that this is something they want. And there’s no model out there, and it seems like a dangerous idea….especially to a bank. And they’re right. We do things the hard way. We buy the most expensive animals, bring them in whole, make all our own charcuterie. So yeah, it really takes believing in yourself, telling yourself that you’re not entirely insane.”

Ross Flynn, founder of Left Bank Butchery, Saxapahaw NC

Ross Flynn is not alone in questioning his sanity some days. Luckily, he’s also not the only one with a mission to bring the traditions of whole animal butchery to his community. A couple of years ago, while attending The Business of Butchery immersion course organized by the Food Craft Institute, he was able to meet other like minded butchers, chefs and farmers following a similar path. Ross recalls, “Every butcher shop in America is unique – the location, the clientele, the types of food, the sources of meat, etc. Simply seeing how different the shops were, and how each had found its own model was useful. The course did a great job of introducing the many facets of having a shop. Each day was a different topic of which you could make an entire course. It was also helpful to find out what more you needed to know. [During the course] I was surrounded by so many competent people who were resources for asking those questions.”

This April 2 – 5, the Food Craft Institute will once again be running their annual four-day industry intensive The Business of Butchery for meat professionals, chefs and aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to deepen their skills and grow business expertise in a farm-sourced butchery operation. The majority of course time is spent with the founders of successful and innovative whole-animal businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area. The first of these master instructors announced for the 2017 curriculum include Taylor Boetticher from Fatted Calf, Analiesa Gosnell from Clove and Hoof, Monica and Aaron Rocchino from The Local Butcher Shop and Stephen Pocock from Boccalone.

Phil Grubisa, founder of Beltex Meats in Salt Lake City UT and another course alumni adds, “Being able to talk one-on-one with so many accomplished butcher shop owners and employees enables you to take bits and pieces that are all so different, but you start to formulate your own vision through them. Business of Butchery helped shed serious light on those industry insider tips you think you might know, until you see them in action. In the end everyone has to work towards the bottom line, BUT the passion you see and the way people get to their goals was great.”

If you’re ready to start your own butchery business, expand your restaurant’s whole-animal program or want to broaden your knowledge of all-things-meat, this is a great way to accelerate your plans.  

To ask a question or register your interest in The Business of Butchery contact associate@foodcraftinstitute.org. You can also read more about the course here. Applications are due March 24. Course financial aid and payment plans are available to qualifying participants.

You can also read Ross’s and Phil’s lessons from opening their butcher shops here: Ross Flynn Phil Grubisa.

Founded in 2012 and headquartered in Oakland, CA, the Food Craft Institute is a professional development, non-profit education institution with an ambitious goal — to help reshape the U.S. food landscape by creating a permanent sector of viable artisan food businesses. Unlike traditional culinary institutes, FCI is focused on reinvigorating the art of food craft and helping new businesses succeed. FCI teaches traditional food crafting methods and techniques as well as real-world business planning and management skills.