Alum of Butchery: Left Bank Butchery
Two years ago, Ross Flynn arrived at the Food Craft Institute in Oakland, C.A., as a cow and pig farmer from Saxapahaw, N.C.
His goal was to turn his vigilant passion for holistic husbandry into whole animal butchery. In less than two years, Ross did just that by opening Left Bank Butchery – a shop that sources the majority of its meat straight from the farms Ross spent years working for. We caught up with Ross to learn how he went from working out in the field to being “The Butcher, The Baker, The Badass” of the North Carolina foothills.
What is Left Bank Butchery all about?
We’re an agricultural village. My customers are my neighbors – many of them are farmers, carpenters, etc. I wanted the community that raised this food to have access to the food as well. And that’s what we’re doing. Through fully utilizing whole animals, education, and charcuterie, we’re making the best meat available to many of our neighbors.
How did the Food Craft Institute’s Business of Butchery help you grow your business?
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. 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. In one month, I was surrounded by so many competent people who were resources for asking those questions.
What do you envision the upcoming years will bring for Left Bank Butchery?
Mostly I look forward to building relationships with my customers. In four months, it’s been amazing to see the response we’ve gotten from customers. Folks want to hang out in the shop, watch us cut, talk food. They bring us food and send us pictures. I want the shop to be a place that nurtures everything that we love about food.
We also have a mobile unit that I’m really excited about. The village only has 1,500 people, so the unit will allow us to go to farmer’s markets and other locations in the surrounding cities.
What have been the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered?
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 folks 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.
Who is your biggest food inspiration?
There’s a food “scene” out there that I really struggle with. The blogs, the one-upmanship, the cooking competitions on TV- so much of that misses everything l love about food. Without sounding trite, it’s the farmers, bakers, home cooks, and chefs who make food because they love it and want to share it. Those are the people I surround myself with and there’s never a shortage of inspiration from them.
What advice do you have for new food entrepreneurs starting out?
I got this advice from shop owners when I was at FCI, and I’ll pass it on. There’s no “right” time to do it. If you want, you’ll forever find the reasons not to do it. And yes, numbers are important, business plans are important. But at some point, you just have to be a bit mad and do it, just jump off and get swimming.
See what Ross has stocked in the Left Bank Butchery case today.
Ready to “jump off and get swimming” in the butchery business? Learn more about the Business of Butchery. The next session is April 13 – May 1.