Author: Patty Lee


2016 Farm Tour

2016-farm-tour
The 2016 Heritage Foods USA Farm Tour kicked off May 4th with a historic meeting at the Memphis airport headlined by a 15-passenger van, which was at the ready for a 5-day chef tour. Since 2005, an annual farm trip provides the chance for chefs and curemasters to meet the people and animals behind their center-of-plate ingredients.

A trip dedicated to the theme of traceability, the tour has hosted almost 100 chefs to America’s greatest and most respected restaurants to the same farms Heritage Foods USA began working with since 2005. Nothing is forever but for the sake of animal welfare, gastronomy, the environment and independent businesses, we kind of hope this is forever!

The Adventurers for the Heritage Traceability Tour 2016

From the West:

Jonah Rhodehamel of Oliveto Restaurant, Oakland. Professional racecar driver and chef.

Taylor Boetticher and Ren Rossini of California’s famed Fatted Calf Charcuterie, which moves over a ton of pasture raised heritage meats a week and more during the holidays.

Jason Neve, Jon Littleton, Nicole Brisson and Danny Herrera of the four Batali & Bastianich Vegas restaurants: Carnevino, B&B Ristorante, Otto Pizzeria and B&B Burger.

From the East:

Cesare Casella, holder of a Michelin star and true master of Salumi and Proscuitti. Cesare learned the art of cutting meat from countryside-travelling Tuscan butchers in the 1970’s and 1980’s ­— he’s a true salumi-nary!

Paul Wetzel of Gramercy Tavern in NYC. Chief charcutier to Zagat’s top restaurant in New York, Paul is at the forefront of the new American meat movement.

Joe Tarasco, Executive Chef of Danny Meyer’s Marta restaurant, the phenomenal pizza and pasta spot in New York’s midtown neighborhood.

Team Heritage: Catherine Greeley, Alexes McLaughlin, and Patrick Martins.

From the Midwest:
Howard Hanna, chef of Kansas City’s Rieger Restaurant, a world site of gastronomy where they produce their own gin and whiskey in a building whose history can be traced back more than 100 years .

Michael Beard of Meat, LLC, distributor of pasture-raised heritage meats to the Mid-West – places like Oklahoma and Nebraska.

First stop, Memphis and the famous Peabody Hotel for cocktails and to watch ducks make their way across the hotel lobby to bathe in the central fountain. Then Beale Street for Blues City Café BBQ, delicious shrimp and ribs.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 4.14.15 PMWe then headed North at lightening speed, and then slower speed once we got pulled over (just a warning)! When we arrived at Newman Farm we gasped at how stunning this farm is. Rita, David and Chris Newman operate in the Ozarks Mountains a farm that is home to 1300 of the best Berkshire pigs in the world – with genetics that are untouchable, from the old lines that can be traced back centuries in the Old World. This farm is at the cutting edge too of an English pasture raising system using outdoor huts for the mothers and babies. The food was marvelous, a true taste of the Ozarks where blackberries and cherries explode from the forests.

After 2 nights, we woke early and drove Northwest at lightening speed (no police stops) to Paradise Locker Meats in Trimble, Missouri. We arrived just in time for the staff lunch, which featured BBQ from Oklahoma Joes. There we met the entire team at Paradise who cuts and portions much of the heritage pork used at the restaurants and curehouses. It was nice for the cutters to put a face to the unusual cuts they craft each and every week, and for the chefs to meet one-by-one the team that makes what they do possible in places like NYC, Vegas and San Francisco. We toured every inch of the plant from the kill floor to the processing room, coolers and cure rooms led by plant manager Lou Fantasma and his father Mario.

Then we were off to dinner at the Rieger Hotel in downtown KC. Located in the historic Crossroads Art District, The Rieger can be summed up as a “Classic American Grill”. The Rieger Hotel opened in 1915 and was home to many traveling salesmen, railroad workers, and passersby during Kansas City’s formative years. Today Chef Howard Hanna believes that Kansas City is in a prime position to develop a cuisine that speaks to its people, celebrates the bounty of the region, and can be unique and special.

Then we sleep a deep sleep and rise again to travel due west on highway 70 towards the center of the state.

Frank-GSPR_4737Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch was our next stop. Visiting GSPR and farmer Frank Reese is almost a religious experience. When you arrive Frank begins speaking about the connection between strong and non-industrial genetics with animal welfare. He talks about American history, on the farm, and in the barn. And he explains how each animal we see conforms to traditional body types that populated farms for centuries. He is the Wendell Berry of poultry. Frank took us to see the roughed up breeders who were fighting for mates, and the cute babies they produced. We saw so many different chicken varieties mingling in the dust. And we tasted two of them: the Jersey Buff and Wyandotte, prepared by Frank low and slow. These are the best chickens on earth.

Good Farm, Farm Tour
Good Farm, Farm Tour

When we left Frank’s farm we were silent for awhile as most people tend to be. But we picked up energy again at our last stop for Traceability Tour 2016, Good Farm just outside of Manhattan, Kansas. Here everything fits comfortably like an old baseball glove. We feasted, thanks to chef Michael Beard and Amy Good herself, we shot guns, we toured the farm on a big trailer and 4×4’s and saw pig breeds including Gloucestershire Old Spot, Tamworth and Duroc. The breeding boar was massive and intimidating! The babies and teenagers were clean and alert and beautiful.

Then it was back home the next day and to work the day after that, but we returned with a renewed appreciation for the American food supply and the potential it has to feed the world. The energy created on the tour is perhaps best represented by these quotes from the farmers and chefs:

“We are all fortunate to work with such amazing people and it’s trips like this that re-center us and bring into clarity why it is we do what we do. For myself, it was great to see old faces and meet some new ones, and hopefully, we will see you all very soon.”

“I’m not even joking, that trip was one of the highlights of my career so far. To say it was inspiring and invigorating would be a huge understatement. It was great to meet all of you!”

“We are blessed to have the opportunity to work with such good, talented people who are committed to their passion of serving the very best food to their friends and clients. We are so fortunate to be a part of something that has so many people that truly care about quality and the people who work hard to produce the products that they desire. We are a part of something that is greater than just us. Having you visit our farm and visiting with you gives us “extra energy” to keep on doing what we love to do.”

And finally… “Damn, that food is good.”

Stay tuned to our blog for more pictures and stories from the Heritage network!!

Meet the Folks at Paradise Locker Meats

In 2004, our founder Patrick Martins walked up a dirt road in Trimble, Missouri to meet the Fantasma family for the first time and discuss the possibility of working together. Mario, Teresa, Lou and Nick opened the doors of their facility to Heritage Foods and processed 5 Tamworth pigs raised on Metzger Farm, which were then sent to chefs in New York and San Francisco.

Every week since that initial meeting 12 years ago, Paradise Locker Meats and Heritage Foods USA have worked together to bring heritage breed pigs raised on pasture to chefs in restaurants and homes across America. Paradise has grown to process 200 Red Wattle and Berkshire pigs a week for Heritage Foods clients, as well as other livestock, and is now a major force in supplying good, clean and fair food to their local community. Paradise is credited with elevating the quality of the Kansas City restaurant scene by providing a tastier and more sustainable alternative for center of the plate options.

The processor is often overlooked when reflecting on the agricultural supply chain but they play a crucial role in connecting the farmer to the consumer. Every single piece of meat, every chop, steak and ham passes over their butcher block is expertly cut, portioned, packaged and shipped. Paradise Locker in particular also acts as liaison to farmers. They carry heavy and dangerous objects, they navigate the many challenges of maintaining the strict protocols of the U.S.D.A. and Certified Humane® and they operate an award-winning curehouse. Considering the work of the processor, it is remarkable how consistent and beautiful every cut is that comes out of their plant.

Paradise Locker was founded in 1946. The Fantasma family purchased it in 1995 but a smokehouse fire burned it down in 2002. The family was at a crossroads but decided to re-open. The relationship with Heritage began in 2004. And this year, Paradise Locker has undergone a major expansion, doubling the size of their facility. Paradise Locker is now a larger job creator for their staff and for family farmers who now have a quality processor for their livestock. They are also expanding the amount of good meat available to all Americans from coast-to-coast.

The Paradise Locker/ Heritage Foods USA collaboration has endured every week for 12 years and serves as a bellwether to the nation that the industrial meat complex has already reached its apex and is at risk of a sustained downward trend unless they improve their practices. We stand with all butchers, processors, curemasters and especially chefs who respect gastronomy, taste and all the players that go into making it possible.

Roberta's Pizza Ribs

Roberta’s Style Ribs

Roberta’s Pizza in Bushwick, Brooklyn has become famous for their legendary pies but our favorite dish is their Smoked Ribs. The secret is in the honey vinegar and togarashi sauce. Chef Carlo uses a simple salt and pepper rub before smoking the ribs. If you don’t have a smoker we recommend using this sauce on simple low and slow grilled ribs.

Grilled Lamb Hearts with Onion Relish

Once you try these lamb hearts, you’ll wonder why you ever paid top dollar for other cuts before. The firm, dense hearts stand up to a number of pairings, and this quick marinade and an easy, bright onion relish set these up for any kind of use. They shine as an entree over asparagus and grits or alongside potatoes and broccoli rabe, but my favorite way to eat them is to take the grilled hearts, slice them up, and mix them with a generous amount of the relish….

Ode to a Great Year & A Look to the Future!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

For the first time in the history of Heritage Food USA, I feel as if we are not part of a revolution, but part of a genuine, mainstreamed movement. Everywhere we look we see genuine farm-to-table restaurants, a new wave of artisanal bakers, pasta makers, cheesemongers, and truly knock-out coffee shops and chocolatiers. Everything is, against all odds, getting better.

Since the 2001 New York Times article by Marian Burros announcing that Slow Food USA would sell heritage turkeys raised by Frank Reese, Heritage Foods USA has rumbled and sometimes tumbled laying the foundation for an alternative national meat supply.

Our challenges were myriad — finding partner farmers and processors who would help bring the best heritage breeds to the market consistently; finding trusted shipping partners to move our food around the country; finding wholesale and direct-to-home outlets for all the many cuts of livestock we sell; learning the ins-and-outs of maintaining an engaging website, running social media campaigns and managing our blog and marketing materials to help us reach a discerning customer base and engage them in our mission; finding the right team of leaders in the office, which has never been stronger; and learning how to make it work financially for all the parties involved.

Fifteen years ago this seemed like folly — when it came to being a purveyor of sustainable, humanely sourced meat, nothing was known or predictable. But right now we are clearly seeing a long-term future with incredible rewards.

Paradise Locker, our partner in all things butchery, has doubled their capacity after 15 years. This means more sustainably raised meat coming to market, and more infrastructure for good, clean, and fair food. Our farmers are investing in the future, too – there is talk of David Newman giving up his teaching gig to return full time to his farm in the Ozarks. Craig Good is starting to raise the Tamworth breed of pork for the first time. Ben Machin is expanding the number of farmers raising rare breeds of lamb under his flag.

More good news: With security comes more collaboration. This year we are following up the success of our universally beloved porchetta with more items from Swiss butcher extraordinaire Thomas Odermatt. Stay tuned for a Standing Cordon Bleu Roast (!!!),  where Swiss Raclette cheese is rolled into the loin of our Old Spot pigs, using his acclaimed porchetta spices. The tradition of meat and cheese working together in a roast goes back three hundred years to Swiss traditions passed on to Thomas from his generation of butchers. Also from Thomas we’re looking forward to his own invention, the “turketta” — an entire heritage turkey deboned and rolled with delicious paprika and other earth based spices.

In Virginia, master charcutier Sam Edwards is celebrating the 90th year of his family business, and to celebrate, he is producing in limited supplies for the first time ever rare lamb prosciutto, meant to be sliced like the world’s greatest hams. We are also expanding our menu of patés, which met with critical acclaim last year. Salumi too! Stay tuned for rare breeds of rabbit, and new bacons, hams, and sausages in our Samplers and Subscriptions. We will also feature a new harvest of the world’s most delicious anchovies, bathed in various oils by our very own Di Liberto clan.

Earlier this year, there was a lot of hubbub surrounding a WHO report claiming that eating meat is dangerous. And we agreed. Commodity, industrially farmed meat is dangerous — and we have always zealously advocated a turning of the wheel away from those cruel practices. Heritage Foods USA is not part of that system. There is no controversy for us — we are proud to sell what might be the world’s best meats from the most innovatively traditional farms.

Of course none of this would be possible without our fantastic customers. We are so very committed to working for your business, and cannot possibly express the gratitude for having faith in Heritage Foods USA.

Wishing all of you a healthy, and delicious New Year, on behalf of over forty family farms and everyone in the Heritage Family, Thank YOU!!!

 

 

Founder & President

Heritage Foods USA

2015 Heritage Turkey Flock

Every morning it’s the same routine for poultry farmer Frank Reese. Frank walks several thousand turkeys from their barn out to pasture, where they spend the day foraging in the rolling Kansas plains. In the evening he opens the large barn doors, cuing the flock to head indoors where they can roost safely for the night.

Exercise and access to natural forage help to keep heritage turkeys strong and healthy. It also enables the birds to develop fat, nutritional content, and flavor. Not too long ago this was how all turkeys were raised, but Frank has gone to great lengths to preserve traditional standards of raising turkeys. Each year, as his flock is developing, he closely watches the birds mature. At the end of the season Frank will select the individuals with the most desirable traits to parent the next generation.

This yearly cycle drives the sustainability of Frank’s operation. All of his turkeys mate naturally, have a long and productive lifespan, and develop at a healthy rate – simple traits that really allow his flock to stand out from commodity production.

Follow our blog for more 2015 heritage turkey updates!

 

 

 

Tunis Lamb

Heritage Breed Tasting at Lupa Osteria Romana

A heritage breed tasting event was hosted at Lupa Osteria to celebrate our long standing partnership and their commitment to sustainability and biodiversity.

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