This past weekend, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Delibler, sustainable butcher, of City Provisions Delicatessen located in Chicago, IL. City Provisions strives to produce local, sustainable and delicious food for the local community and their customers. This includes selling sustainable meat and poultry.
I was able to chat with Andrea over a pot of green tea and ask her a few questions.
Q. How did you start working at City Provisions?
A. I began my career in the restaurant industry as a line cook working for a couple of great restaurants in Kansas City. As I gained more knowledge, I became very interested in butchering and charcuterie. Kansas City at the time didn’t offer a lot of opportunity to strictly learn how to butcher, so I headed to Chicago. I started working as an apprentice under Rob Levitt, then owner of Mado Restaurant and current owner of The Butcher and Larder. He put me in contact with Cleetus Friedman who was looking for a butcher for his new deli called City Provisions.
Q. Describe your job?
A. I’m responsible for all of the meat that comes through the shop, meaning I butcher the whole animals (pigs, lamb, ducks, rabbits and chicken), develop and execute recipes for the charcuterie program, sausage program and some of our deli meats. I maintain a raw meat case where you can come and get custom butcher cuts, raw sausage, etc. I maintain and develop relationships with our farmers, and help educate and excite customers who are curious about sustainable meat.
Q. What makes sustainable meat “sustainable”?
A. To me, sustainability has a couple of meanings depending on which aspect of the food industry you are looking at. In farming, sustainability means treating animals humanely, giving them food their bodies are meant to process, letting them grow at a normal rate and ideally growing them along with complementary crops and animals. In the restaurant, sustainability means sourcing local meat that meets the above criteria and then utilizing the entire animal, bones, fat, bits and all so more people can be fed from one animal. Culturally, sustainability means eating less meat, being willing to pay more for quality meat and learning to cook at home. We cannot ask farmers to grow animals in the ways we want them to unless we pay a higher price for meat and eat less of it.
Q. Where do you get your whole animals from?
A. We buy all of our meat from local farmers. One of the best parts of my job is the relationship I have with our farmers! We purchase our pork from Mark and Kristen Boe, of La Pryor Farms in Ottawa, IL. Our 100% grass fed lamb comes from Pinn-Oak Ridge Farms in Delavan, WI, owned by Steven & Darlene Pinnow. We use all grass fed Angus Beef from Quarter Circle 7 Ranch, located in Marengo, Illinois. Due to space, we don’t butcher whole beef at the shop, but hope to add whole beef butchering to our program soon. Gunthorp Farms in La Grange, Indiana supplies our chicken and ducks. Their farm has an USDA inspected processing facility on-site, allowing them to slaughter their animals in an environment with lower volume and stress.
Q. How is your training/education different from your non-sustainable butcher counterpart?
A. I’m still very new to butchering and have a great deal to learn. Whether that is a little mom and pop butcher shop that has been around for years or a butcher who works long, efficient hours in a commercial butchering facility cutting thousands of pounds of meat a year. For my work at City Provisions, it helps that I have a culinary background and degree which helps me make various delicious meaty things such as sausages, pates, terrines and deli meats.
City Provisions continued to support their mission and the green movement in their bathroom. They have a basket of old t-shirts that are used to dry your hands instead of the typical paper towel dispenser. Love it!