On Sunday I went to a party, El Dio de Les Puercos! at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in the Chelsea market, hosted by Jake Dickson. The room was packed with butchers from all over New York. Evan Brady (above, left), who gave me some of the best speck I’ve had, came from Wappinger Falls (he runs an online butcher’s supply store, Butcher’s Pantry). Jeremy Stanton, who runs The Meat Market in Great Barrington, sliced some fabulous Ossabaw prosciutto. I met a sprite of a girl named Flannery (after the writer) who is a cutter at The Meat Hook in Brooklyn. One of the founders of the Meat Hook (a store I love!), Brent Young, told me he was a grad student years ago studying education when, unhappy, he wrote me an email. I told him to get off his ass and do what he cares about doing; he said, because of that email, he did. So, I happily takes some responsibility for this great store in Brooklyn. And John Ratliff, founding butcher of Ends Meat in Brooklyn, gave me some of the best ‘nduja I’ve had. It was especially good rolled up in a slice of salami.

It reminded me of something good going on in America. The rise of the small butcher who knows the farmer who raises the animals he or she sells. (Jeremy’s Ossabaw was raised in Germantown, NY, for instance.) I love this.

Below, at the request of my assistant Emilia, I’m running a post from the new Muscolo Meat Academy in Chicago, which is looking for students. I like the idea, and they’re offering an inaugural scholarship. Butchering truly is a craft, and one worth learning if you love to work with food. Take it away Emilia.


Giancarlo Sbarbaro and Jocelyn Guest are both breaking down various cuts of beef at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

By Emilia Juocys

The Muscolo Meat Academy is providing 15 students the opportunity to fill one of their inaugural spots. They are building a dynamic class of students to experience their unique hands-on curriculum. You can be one of the few who will receive our comprehensive Rail-to-Retail curriculum–and receive a $10,000 scholarship. Here are three benefits of having a well-trained butcher.

Long lost are the days where you walked down to the neighborhood butcher shop, called the butcher by name and asked about his family, and then picked up the Sunday roast. Wait … or are they? The demand for butchers is growing with more and more butcher shops popping up across the country.  Not to mention a new school in Chicago, Muscolo Meat Academy, launching to ensure the next generation of butchers steps behind the counter fully trained.

A good butcher has a passion for the trade, for the animals and for the cuts they present. If you don’t have a good butcher in your life, here are 3 reasons you’ll want to find one.



If you’re adventurous in the kitchen, then a great butcher is for you. They can help you discover new cuts of meat you’ve never even thought of trying like the copa, the spalla and the baseball steak – you’re already curious aren’t you? You can be a part of the nose to tail movement by straying from the grocery store’s most popular cuts and discovering what’s in the butcher shop’s meat case to enjoy.



A well-trained butcher knows the art and science of meat. They know how taste and texture is a by-product of where the cut comes from. And how different cooking methods create different tastes and textures on top of that. They can share how to make a tougher cut tender or what cuts are best for the cooking method you prefer. So go ahead and ask. After all, if she just helped you discover a great new cut, you’re going to want to confidently prepare it.



Discovering something new of quality is satisfying. You know the people who know the farmers. You’ve worked with your butcher with a passion for what he does and you’ve help the local economy. Now that makes for a satisfying steak dinner.

Inspired to become one of these butchers? Muscolo Meat Academy is now accepting students for their 2016 inaugural class.


If you liked this post on Muscolo Meat Academy check out these other posts:


© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.