Over the last decade, celebrity chefs have become the new rock stars of the working world – whether they owned a restaurant, wrote cookbooks or had a TV show. Like Mario Batali, Paula Deen, Wolfgang Puck and Rachael Ray. Today, that rock-star status falls on – the butcher! Yup, the guy who cuts up the meat you eat.
So, why are people suddenly interested in becoming a butcher? Because it can take years of cooking school and apprenticeships to become a top chef. However, learning how to separate the steaks from the chops and the ribs seems easier, quicker and more accessible. It also provides instant foodie “street cred” and it gets into the real nitty-gritty of the food world. According to the food website Slash Food, the popularity of meat-cutting has a lot to do with TV cooking shows – where chefs routinely debone ducks and discuss the best cuts of meat, and authors like Julie Powell, who wrote Julie and Julia. Her recent book Cleaving is all about her eight-month apprenticeship at Fleisher’s Meats in New York. Suddenly, butchers have a cult following, and meat-cutting classes are filling up quickly, like at 4505 Meats in San Francisco. They offer one-day classes like sausage-making and “Whole Hog,” where participants help butcher a 250-pound hog and take home the spoils. Fleisher’s offers an 8-week butchering class that costs $10,000 – and teaches students everything from how to use and care for their knives, the best ways to cook every cut of meat, and how to bring a variety of animals from hoof to plate.
If you’d like to learn how to become a butcher or a meat cutter – check out your local trade school – or ask your butcher. Who knows, you might even end up with a brand-new career.