“My hope is that my children will have the same passion for this as I do…”
Meet Larry Althiser, the owner and head meat cutter for Larry’s Custom Meats in Hartwick, NY, a small farming community in the Northern Catskills. Larry takes pride in his slaughterhouse. He’s been butchering and processing animals for over 30 years, learning through hard work his philosophy on the right way to slaughter animals so we can eat:
“Some people just don’t care about other people. They just don’t. I don’t understand that. I want my people to care about the other end of it, not just walk in and do something and walk out at the end of the day. They need to care about what they’re doing, who they’re feeding and how they’re doing it.”
I spent two days upstate with Larry at his brand new processing plant to learn firsthand how animals become food – a rare opportunity to tell the story of transparency in the meat industry. Truth be told, I was very, very anxious going into this shoot. The night before, I tossed and turned in my bed, restless for hours. I just wasn’t sure if I was ready to see the whole process, to film what I’d been shy to film for years. But, I had to do it. It’s a story I wanted to tell, a good story about a proud butcher open to teaching his trade, and a story I felt compelled to share with many others, like me, who didn’t want to be disconnected to their food any longer.
Slaughterhouses must exist and thrive so that small farmers can raise animals, sell meat and keep their farms alive. And animals have to die for us meat-eaters to eat. It’s a food system that goes hand in hand. But, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this. The Center for Agricultural Development & Research (CADE), featured in Part 1 of this series, believes Larry does things right. So if I was going to show you a kill floor for the first time, this was it.
“Skilled, artisanal type butchers are as rare as farmers or large animal veterinarians. Although there are some younger folks in the slaughterhouses, the guys who have the real skills of 20 to 30 years are getting up there in age.” - Chris Harmon, Executive Director, CADE
Please visit CADE for more information on how you can support local farms.¬† Just remember, this is pretty heavy stuff. So just be sure you want to learn before you press play…
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CADE (Part 1): Building Artisan Slaughterhouses in Upstate New York to Feed the Demand for Grass-fed Meat
Meet Chris Harmon, the Executive Director of CADE, The Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship in New York State. CADE is a non-profit organization working to help build the necessary infrastructure and local food systems so that farmers can survive and thrive in upstate New York. I met with Chris to talk about the future of farming in my home state, and how they see new opportunities with the grass-fed movement.
More and more people are interested in knowing where their food comes from. And with local grass-fed meat in high demand along the East Coast, many farmers are looking towards repurposing their unused dairy land to raise animals. But to feed this demand, farmers need more local USDA-approved slaughterhouses. Slaughterhouses, with skilled butchers, that can help farmers make extra income off of their new crop of pasture-raised animals. And right now, there aren’t nearly enough of them. Therefore, building more meat processing plants is a necessary step to help revitalize a dying farming industry upstate, a step that CADE is using all its resources to grow.
All in all, I hope you learn about the struggles that farmers face to help feed us well, and I hope you become more interested in supporting farmers in our area. This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on artisan slaughterhouses. Stay tuned for the next episode where I’ll take you through the artisan slaughter process, step by step, to tell the story of “transparency”.
Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy Eating!
“If you’re happy, the donuts are happy…”
Meet Fany Gerson, the 2011 James Beard nominated cookbook author and donut mastermind behind DOUGH, an innovative, never-a-few-hours-old artisan donut shop in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Fany was kind enough to give me a personal tour of DOUGH’s back kitchen last week to watch as they handmade donuts. Now, I love a good donut. But donuts rarely amaze me. Rarely do they make me sit up and do a double-take at the sight of them. However, as I filmed DOUGH’s over-sized, ring-shaped cakes getting dunked and dressed, something happened… I could literally feel my jaw drop in childlike wonder. “Wows” and “oh my gods” kept cooing from my shameless self as Fany presented donut flavor after donut flavor. I was embarrassingly, but not embarrassingly, on a filming sugar-high, and I hadn’t even tried a donut yet!
Anyhow, I hope this story holds you and your sugar tooth captive, even if just for a moment. It took months for Fany to perfect her donut’s dough recipe, testing and tweaking over 50 ideas before it came out just right. It’s got that crisp little crunch on the bite in, then that big, soft center with a chewy give and hits of nutmeg that helps you savor the unique flavored glazes and textured toppings. It’s a great donut, and the foot traffic says it all. On busy days, over 1,000 donuts in dozens of flavors are handmade for customers.¬† Specials change daily, and once the spring/summer begins, Fany plans to introduce more seasonal flavors and filled jams.
DOUGH is definitely worth the trip out to Brooklyn. Trust me. I even shared a box with a few random strangers who admittedly didn’t like donuts…until they took a bite of DOUGH’s.
305 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205
Thanks for watching food. curated. Happy eating!
“I owe it all to the food makers…”
This week, I had quite the surprise come my way… food. curated. was nominated for its 2nd James Beard Foundation Award for Best Video Webcast! It’s been another fun-filled year of flying solo, telling the stories that I love, and I’m excited to share this honor with other food video greats: Ozersky.TV and GrapeRadio.
Thank you to all the food makers, farmers, fishermen and chefs who let me into their lives in 2010. I am happy to know you, happy to support you, and am mostly happy to have made a new friend. Without your passion, I would have nothing to do with my life, so cheers to you for giving me a purpose.
And another big thanks to those at The James Beard Foundation for believing in my little series. I am all smiles over here and I doubt that will change for some time to come. Like I’ve said before, my series is more about my love for people, than my love of food. I hope you keep coming back because good people inspire you to eat. Can’t wait to celebrate with everyone in May!
“The strange thing is, farmed sturgeon fillet is almost a by-product of the caviar. It’s great for chefs that it’s available now, and I think you’re going to see it in homes more and more. It’s a really forgiving fish. If you’re not comfortable cooking fish, you can cook sturgeon.”
Meet Executive Chef Cal Elliott from Rye Restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I’ve been hunting around for a local farmed sturgeon dish for awhile as a follow up piece to my Mote Marine farmed sturgeon story, to show how easy it is to cook with at home. When shopping around for seafood, I don’t think most of us put sturgeon at the top of our dinner list, but we should. It’s a meaty, not too oily, white fleshed fish that holds up to many cooking methods. And it’s one of Chef Elliott’s favorite fish to prepare.
At Rye, the chef has a 4-day process for his sturgeon.¬† He cures it, smokes it, then slices it thin to pile into his popular smoked sturgeon salad dish. This salad has everything you want in a salad. Great layers upon layers of texture, hot/cold elements, and a complexity that satisfies, instead of overwhelms. From the quail egg yolk that runs into the greens, to the crispy warm bacon, to the salty-sweet smoked sturgeon, to the break-with-your-tongue final layer of potatoes and caramelized onions, to the final dollop of sturgeon caviar. This dish is a must. And I hope it gets you interested in not only eating more farmed sturgeon, but cooking it at home as well. To find farmed sturgeon in New York City, head over to the fishmongers at The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market.
And don’t miss out on Rye Restaurant, in addition to their smoked sturgeon salad, I can give you a great many other recommendations, including a few cocktails by their very talented head bartender, Sother Teague: 247 S. 1st Street, Brooklyn, New York 11211
Thanks for watching food. curated. Happy Eating!