Erika "Grundy" Nakamura and Amelia "Lindy" Posada are readying their knives and cleavers to butcher the finest sustainable California meats. Opening up shop in L.A., Lindy & Grundy will peddle locally-sourced charcuterie including Rancho San Julian beef, Reride Ranch pork, Sonoma Direct lamb and Rainbow Ranch Farms chicken.
After studying the art of butchering at Fleisher's Grass-Fed and Organic Meats in upstate New York, the married couple head west. Making appearances at Artisanal L.A. to butcher a pig and teaming up with Chicks with Knives to break down a whole lamb at Surfas, Nakamura and Posada quickly made a name for themselves among the L.A. food community and decided to establish their own butcher shop, currently opening mid-February 2011.
Cool Hunting caught up with Posada and Nakamura to find out more about the journey of this French Culinary Institute graduate and vegetarian flower designer on the path to opening a butcher shop.
Why did you choose L.A. for Lindy & Grundy?
Erika: Amelia is born and raised in Los Angeles, so we would come visit her family here a lot, and we saw that there was a great need for a whole animal, sustainable butcher shop. We try to source as close to L.A. as possible. Everything other than our lamb comes from a 150-mile radius of our butcher shop.
Amelia, you were a vegetarian for a long time. When did you decide to start eating meat again?
Amelia: I started to crave meat, pretty much out of nowhere, in 2007. I found it very hard to find meats that had been raised locally and sustainably, humanely. But when we found Fleishers Grass-Fed and Organic Meats in Kingston, NY we were thrilled! Now, I love meat, especially pork. Being able to butcher what you are going to eat for dinner feels wonderful.
Erika, how did growing up in Tokyo influence your choice to work in restaurants and to study at the French Culinary Institute?
Erika: Growing up in Japan, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my mother and her friend Mira Metah, who owned Bidi, an Indian restaurant in town. The complexities in Japanese cuisine have definitely shaped my palate and cooking style. I think that in Japanese food you can actually taste and identify the ingredients, they don't over power one other nor are they one-dimensional. I attended the French Culinary Institute to strengthen my culinary skills. Throughout my education at FCI, I found a great interest in butchery and charcuterie, with a special attention cured, smoked meats.
You both apprenticed at Fleisher Grass-Fed meats, how did your time there affect you?
Erika: We apprenticed at Fleisher's for 8 months. We learned a true philosophy of whole animal utilization and nose to tail butchery—a skill that not many people can do these days.
Amelia: It is a thriving community of artists, small business owners and all-around amazing people. They have an impressive farmers market, and one of our favorite restaurants of all time, Elephant, is just across the street from the butcher shop. It was an intensive apprenticeship, very back-breaking work, which we love. We want to share our knowledge of our craft with chefs and home cooks, and we'll be offering butchering programs at Lindy & Grundy once we're rockin' and rollin' and ready for students in our shop.
What was the moment when you realized that butchering was your calling?
Erika: It started in my production class in culinary school at FCI. We learned how to process smaller animals like chickens, ducks, rabbits and eventually pork butts. Even the process of just cleaning up steaks, that experience of cutting meat excited me. My background is in sculpture and I get a tremendous creative rush when I butcher, it's a type of subtractive sculpture and I've always enjoyed working with my hands.
Who designed the space and what is the atmosphere you are hoping to create for your customers?
Erika: Our shop is inspired by the layout at Fleisher's, and a lot of things are set-up in a way that we are used to. We are challenged by a much smaller space than Fleisher's so we had to be very creative, and thankfully our architect was patient with us. Also, Amelia's cousin Gabriel Shelton is an incredibly talented iron-worker in Brooklyn, and she has been a huge part of our design process as well.
Amelia: She is custom-making some beautiful pieces for our shop, including our overhead hanging rail system, where our meat will be hung. As for the atmosphere, we hope to be a place where the community wants to gather to talk about food, sustainability, recipes and cooking. We want a friendly environment that is educational, approachable and fun! Meat should not be intimidating, we want folks to know where there meat comes from and be proud to support local California agriculture and small farms.
What have you done to become part of the local food community?
Erika: We are brand new to the L.A. food community, and have been fortunate to be embraced by so many talented chefs, urban farmers, foodies, neighbors and folks who are just excited to be able to have a new butcher shop come to town. The food blogging community has helped us network with other like-minded folks here in town.
What are your goals for Lindy & Grundy?
Amelia: Our goal is to provide an alternative to commodity meat, and help spread awareness of the importance of eating locally, and living sustainably. We want people to think beyond the tenderloin and boneless skinless chicken breasts, and realize how tasty, healthy and affordable the rest of the animal can be! Let's appreciate and utilize the entire animal, and more importantly, let's be thankful for having small farmers who work so hard so that we can eat well.
All photos by Jennifer May