The Central Texas Meat Collective brings together farmers, chefs, butchers, and students all in the name of transparent meat education. We teach people how to buy whole or half animals from local farms, and how to butcher, cook, and cure every part of those animals. These classes help community members gain a more comprehensive understanding of sustainable meat consumption and production, and to become active participants in the local meat economy.
Examples of classes and content include (but are not limited to) whole hog butchery, poultry processing, curing, sausage making, and lamb butchery. We are excited to provide an array of classes for 2017, and are putting the finishing touches on our schedule. Sign up for our email list on our homepage to stay up to date on all class offerings and other meat-related events.
Julia Poplawsky grew up loving animals so much that her family always thought she would become a veterinarian one day. Flash forward 20 some years and instead she learned the craft of whole animal butchery. Sort of makes sense, right?
After graduating from college, Julia found her way into a kitchen to make post-grad ends meet. After two years of working as a line cook in the Austin area, Julia took off for culinary school, at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After school, Julia left for San Francisco, California and learned the craft of whole animal butchery at 4505 Meats. She immediately fell in love with the connection to the land, the animal, the community and the tradition that butchery possessed. After two years in the Bay Area, Julia got homesick for Texas and started making plans to return.
In 2014 Julia Poplawsky returned to Texas to help open up Dai Due’s first brick and mortar as the head butcher and butcher shop manager. While some butchers become obsessed with charcuterie, salami and sausage making, Julia took a difference route and became more captivated by the agricultural aspect of butchery and the community that it supports. She left Dai Due in January of 2016 to learn a different approach to nourishing her community and began vegetable farming in Austin area.
In order to fill the void that butchery left, Julia piloted a series of butchery classes, “Butchery for the Home Cook,” at the Sustainable Food Center in Austin, Texas. Julia wants to share her passion of local systems through the language of land and food. She believes in the power of community and creating space at the dinner table.
Let's ask Julia....
What's your favorite cut of meat? Cheeseburger... or beef culotte.
Describe your first food memory: When I was about 3 or 4 years old, I found this weird purple vegetable on my counter. I started to peel way the crisp and crunchy layers, as my eyes filled with tears... Turns out it was an onion and I have loved them ever since!
What's your Spirit Animal? A combination of my chihuahua (Bean) and cat (Flower).
Leah Gibson moved from Houston to San Marcos in 2003 to attend college at Texas State University. She studied Physical Geography, a discipline which gave her a deep appreciation for natural processes and human's interaction with nature. Since graduating in 2010, she has worked for the City of Austin, but decided to keep her feet firmly planted in San Marcos, because of the bond she developed with the community there. Community is a concept worth sticking around for!
Leah and her husband purchased a small farm 7 miles east of San Marcos in Maxwell, and now operate Boxcar Farm and Garden, where they produce pastured pork, poultry, and recently installed an orchard with the help of the Young Farmer's Grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture. Leah's philosophy is that farming practices should benefit both the land and the consumer. She implements this on her farm by using Holistic Management and regenerative agriculture practices to build soil through natural processes. Heritage breeds and educating consumers about the beauty and history of them is a critical factor in their operation.
Leah also firmly believes that creating community is one of the more important things small farmers can do. Cooperation, not competition, is what will ultimately lead to the success of the small farm. She does her part to facilitate a small farmer community by playing a lead role in the Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, and being active in local permaculture and farming groups.
Let's ask Leah....
What's your favorite cut of meat?: I love ground ANYTHING. It's so versatile and every cuisine uses it. Plus, it's usually one of the more affordable options when buying excellent quality meat.
Describe your favorite food memory: I'm Italian, so I'm lucky to have been surrounded by amazing food as long as I can remember. But when it comes to holiday dinners, Italians absolutely cannot bear to have less than a 5-course meal. Since I was a kid I've always been so amazed at the spreads my mom and grandma would provide for each course, complete with fancy dinnerware and great-grandmother's tablecloth from Italy that I was afraid of spilling juice on. Cured meats, cheeses, fruits, cakes, pies, and my grandma's tortellini soup were always some of the highlights.
What's your Spirit Animal? Well I just took an online Facebook quiz and it told me I was a snake, so that must be accurate. But I also really like spending time with my pigs, so maybe I'm a hog-nosed viper.
Travis Singley grew up in a family of food-obsessed folks. At an early age, he learned about the communicative nature of food and the importance of using what was available and seasonal to bring people together around the table. From helping his great-grandmother in the garden to cleaning catfish with his grandfather, food was always a focal point and a way to tell a story. After helping to open a restaurant in his hometown while in high school, Travis moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas to study social work.
While receiving his Master’s degree, Travis began interning at a local jail in Del Valle, Tx. While working at the jail, he saw the significant impact that a food insecure area can have on the community of people living there. Shortly afterwards, Travis began working as a Food Justice Advocate at a nearby farm, where he helped to expand access to organic produce and meat to the surrounding low-income neighborhood. From there, the rest is history, as they say. After remembering how amazing it felt to have his fingers in the soil, Travis spent the next few years working as a farmer at different organic farms throughout Central Texas, raising sustainable meat, growing organic veggies, and learning from those smarter than himself.
When Travis is not talking about food, eating food, or helping folks to learn about and engage with their food, he is the Local Food Program Manager at the Texas Center for Local Food in Elgin, Tx, where he works to economically empower small-scale producers and create community through agriculture. Travis lives on a 200-acre cattle ranch in Pflugerville, Tx with his wife and two dogs.
Let's ask Travis....
What's your favorite cut of meat? Oh, man. While not a specific cut, offal is, and will always be, my favorite. I know organ meats have become increasingly popular in American restaurants somewhat recently, but holy cow! Fried sweetbreads, blood pudding, foie gras, and chopped liver are some of my absolute favorites- if coming from an animal raised in a sustainable and considerate manner, of course.
If those answers turned you off, then let’s go with a Tomahawk Pork Chop- they’re just downright pretty.
Describe your first food memory: My mother and grandmother were always big baking enthusiasts. My earliest food memories involve me sitting on the kitchen counter, “helping” my mother and grandmother to make yeast rolls for some sort of family get-together.
What's your Spirit Animal? Probably a goat. I like to explore, can get pretty ornery, and could eat through a tin can if it fell onto my plate during a meal.