Blair Machado, Chef/Butcher Farmstead CO.
I'm gonna start this post by saying thank you to my wife, Kori. Who has been keeping me on target for years. Not just with this project but pretty much everything I've ever done. I couldn't do it without you.
On to the actual post! (If you've been reading you probably noticed that I haven't yet recorded a podcast. That is still in the works. I'm still working on figuring out the logistics of that.)
This one was a lot of fun! (As was the next one! More on that later!) I had the opportunity to catch up with Chef Blair Machado. A mentor and a great friend of mine. A man whom I strive to emulate everyday. A phenomenal butcher, the OG Meat Ninja,(he happens to be the guy that taught me) a great chef, and the founder of Farmstead Whole Animal Butchery in Charleston, SC.
The link will be available on both Facebook and Instagram. (If you've been following along. I hope you've already hit the like and follow buttons on both of those platforms, so that you can stay up to date! If not there is no time like the present! I'll wait...)
Moving right along, here's a little bit of what we talked about.
The following is edited for clarity.
Phil- How are you doing chef?
Chef- As good as you can be during a pandemic. Just trying to make adjustments on the fly. Doing what I can to keep the industry that we all know and love, moving forward. Though that's a little easier said than done right now.
Phil-I worked for you(The Park Café, Charleston, SC.) back when I was super green, I remember getting yelled at a lot.
Chef- I won't condone the early, egotistical chef I was. Back when you worked for me, that was my first Executive Chef title. I wanted everything to be perfect, and hadn't quite learned to account for the human factor. I still talk about our crew more than any other. The biggest thing that I learned from that crew was camaraderie. The way we would drop anything, do anything at any given moment to back each other up.
Phil- Yeah we had a great crew! The crew you assembled, has all gone on to do some pretty bad ass shit. Pat is the Exec there now.
Chef- What's Funny about that is we brought him on from the Front of House.
Phil- No Shit? I didn't know that.
Chef- Yeah, he started in the kitchen like two days a week. Just wanted to learn something new. Pretty cool story.
Phil- yeah, that is rad. I Didn't know that. So The next thing I wanted to talk about is what is Farmstead?
Chef- So I started Farmstead about 18 months ago, and the concept was a sustainable, local, whole animal butcher shop. I would work with local farmers and everything in the shop would come from with in 45 miles of Charleston. As I started to look at opening a brick and mortar, I realized that in Charleston at the time that may not be the way to go. But with my connections and skills, I could go out to farms and food halls, etc. and put on pop-up butcher shops. That eventually morphed into the addition of a supper club, Nomadic, that we put on once a month. (prior to Covid.) That was myself, a guest chef, and a guest bartender. We would do five course dinners. The guest chef and I would collaborate on the food, and the guest bartender of course would come up with drink pairings.
Phil- The current iteration of Farmstead sounds similar to a Boucherie. You have been involved with Boucherie events in Charleston and through out the south for years. What is a Boucherie?
Chef- It is an old world community event, that in my understanding originated with the Cajun Community. All the different families in a community would raise different livestock and crops. So heading into winter they would essentially have a big party, and butcher and preserve all of this food to ensure they could make it through the winter. Overtime, it has become a way for us to get back to the basics. Back to that way of thinking, and respecting the animals and the food that we eat.
Phil- Are there any Boucheries that you are the most proud of? and Why?
Chef- Comfort Farms out of Milledgeville, GA. The farmer Jon Jackson's mission is to help veterans work through some of their issues such as PTSD using what he calls "Agro-Therapy." Literally, working through those things. There's is always in January. But it is the one I'm most proud of, because I have an extra connection with there mission. One of my best friends was a Marine, and was actually very close to retirement. When he lost his battle to PTSD. That was very hard to deal with, and if I can help in some small way. So that another Soldier and there family and friends don't have to go through that I will. So this is a great opportunity for me to help.
Side note: To anyone who is reading this who may be dealing with these issues. I implore you to please reach out for help 22 a day is way to many. You always have a wingman, there is someone who gives a shit about you. Send me a message through my website, Facebook, or Instagram. We'll make sure you get the help you need.
Phil- Do you have anything you would like to close out with?
Chef- Just make sure you know where your meat is coming from. Do your research. Stop bragging about how cheap you got your meat. Pay more for animals that are treated well. Fed well, have the space that they require to move around, that are humanely slaughtered. Don't pay less for meat, eat less meat.
Phil- It was great to catch up with you chef! Thank you so much for chatting with me! We'll talk again real soon.
Coming up... I'll be chatting with Dave Stine of David Stine Furniture here in Saint Louis. Keep an eye out for that!