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For Reinhart customers, TRACS Direct is the industry leading online kitchen & restaurant management system. Use this tool to monitor inventory, store recipes, manage food costs, search for recipe alternatives, garner nutritional info, and so much more. TRACS Direct gives operators the option to input orders to Reinhart themselves, on their time.

  • VOL 07, ISSUE 03 • SUMMER 2019
Benefits of Whole Animal Butchering

Benefits of Whole Animal Butchering

Starting an in-house butchering program can offer many advantages

Butchering in house can also save you money, so long as you know what you're doing. You need to understand what you're cutting and also be committed to using the whole animal.

The idea of bringing an entire 800-pound side of beef into your restaurant to break down and butcher in house may not sound appealing to everyone, but those who embark on whole animal butchering often find many benefits to the practice.

Sure, a full steer might take up more than half of your kitchen, but you can start out smaller with whole hogs or goats, which take up less space and, frankly, might be easier to work with for someone starting out. If you do get into butchering at this level, you need to know not only how to break them down, but also how to identify different cuts and find ways to utilize the entire animal. Otherwise, you might as well just buy portions from your supplier.

"With whole animal butchery, you use the animal in the proper way instead of just throwing all the meat in the grinder," says Walter Apfelbaum, executive butcher  at Prime + Proper in Detroit.  "We want to make sure you utilize all the meat. It gives restaurants the opportunity to do a lot more dishes."

To have a proper in-house set up, you need the right tools. If you have the space, install a band saw; otherwise a good handsaw can do the trick. You'll need a meat grinder, a large table (preferably butcher block because steel or metal can damage your tools), and a variety of knives, including a butcher knife, boning knife and small trimming knife.

Butchering in house can also save you money, so long as you know what you're doing. You need to understand what you're cutting and also be committed to using the whole animal.

"If you're not 100 percent committed to using the full nose to tail and finding a way to use every piece of it to make money—even if it's just marginally contributing to the cost of the animal—then it's not going to work for you," says Erik Niel, chef/owner of Easy Bistro & Bar and Main Street Meats in Chattanooga, Tenn. "We pay roughly $3.50 a pound for the entire beef carcass, so our price for tenderloins and also for bones is $3.50 a pound. We're always looking for the mix of how to make our margins on that."

Having your own butchering program allows you to know where the animal is coming from and lets you build a deeper relationship with a farmer or purveyor. On top of that, it gives you a story to tell your customers.

"Young people are concerned and want to know where the animals are coming from," says John Dvorak, corporate director of fresh meats for Reinhart Foodservice. "You're bringing in local product, the chef is butchering and can tell you about it. That resonates well with people."

At the end of the day, isn't your story almost as important as the food your guests, hopefully, talk positively about? It's all about getting people investing in what they consume.


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