Whole-animal butchery at Left Bank Butchery

Ross Flynn has created a unique business model at his butcher shop in Saxahapaw, North Carolina. He sources from only one hog farm, Cane Creek Farm, and one beef operation, Braeburn Farms, to supply his shop. This creates an interdependent system where he has a reliable source for animals raised with the highest level of integrity and sustainability and the farmers have a partner that they can count on to source whole animals at a price they set directly.

He practices seam butchery, which follows the seam of the animal's muscle groups, isolating individual muscles and creating cuts that cook evenly and reduce the waste that typical cross-cut butchery creates. Ross is dedicated to the small community he calls home and hosts free cooking classes where customers can gather in the back of the butcher shop and learn about the various cuts of meat Ross offers and how to cook them. Ross doesn’t just want to make these products available, he wants to make sure people know what to do with them when they get back to their own kitchens.

Artisan butchery has been pretty trendy in the past few years, and when things become trendy, we can lose sight of their authenticity. Ross isn’t interested in being a butcher because he sees it as a trend. He became a butcher based on his experience working on Braeburn Farm and getting to understand the animals, developing relationships with Charles Sydnor and Eliza MacLean and seeing the struggle that farmers have with chefs only wanting certain cuts of meat. As Ross says in the episode, farmers don’t raise ribeyes or tenderloins. They raise whole animals.

The role Ross plays as butcher is a critical one: by taking whole animals from Charles and Eliza and using every part of the animal, he ensures that nothing goes to waste and also creates economic sustainability for the farmers. This is the way small town butcher shops used to operate and as we continue to push for sustainability in our food system, hopefully we will see more butcher shops like Left Bank Butchery open across the country.

By the way, if you happen to be lucky enough to visit Left Bank Butchery at any of its locations, be sure to try the ‘nduja. It’s the best I’ve had — spicy and fatty and deeply flavored. Exactly what you want ‘nduja to be. The mortadella is incredible too — perfectly silky and gently seasoned so the sweetness of the pork shines through. With a fresh loaf of bread and some wine and cheese, you couldn’t ask for a better picnic lunch!