by Ian McNulty
Travel around the south Louisiana countryside and you’ll find a lot of car snack-ready boudin and you’ll see a lot of small, family-run farms. Now, there’s an outpost for both of them tucked away along an Uptown neighborhood.
The new butcher shop Cleaver & Co. opened last weekend with an inventory of meats procured from small farms and ranches from bayou country to the Cajun prairie, a range charcuterie made just behind the sales counter and a heap of hot boudin ready to eat on the spot.
Cleaver & Co. is a locally-grown, whole-animal butcher shop developed by Simone Reggie and Seth Hamstead. Both are recent Tulane MBA grads who started working on the business plan while finishing their degrees last spring. Reggie, a Lafayette native, said she was inspired to start the business after participating in the Eat Local Challenge, which asks participants to spend a month eating only foods produced close to home. While seafood and many vegetables were easy to find, she discovered it was harder to get her hands on locally-sourced meats.
At their shop, the meat is cut to order at the counter, and it comes with a little primer on its origins if you’re interested in hearing it.
“We’ve been visiting the farms and ranches we use, so we’re be able to tell you exactly where the cow came from, how it was raised, who the farmers were,” says Reggie. “ We’re able to do that for all of the animals.”
That pitch seems to have struck a chord, judging by the crowd that turned up on Cleaver & Co.’s opening day. Customers filled the shop as butchers cut ribs, bound up roasts with string, wrapped up beef hearts and tongue or pork belly and trotters, and gave advice on cooking whole chickens. They were also dishing out boudin, mortadella, cotto salami and headcheese. The head butcher is Kris Doll, who came to notice as the salumi maker for Butcher and a Mano, and all of the butchers here come from a restaurant background.
“There are so many more options out there than what people are used to, and that can be a little intimidating for some people, like how do you cook this or that, but that’s where having our guys come from a culinary background is helpful too,” says Reggie. “They’re able to help educate people about what they’re buying and how to use it.”
Lamb, goat and other meats may join the inventory soon, and Cleaver & Co. is taking holiday orders for “heritage turkeys.”
Cleaver & Co. is open every day except Tuesday.
Cleaver & Co.
3917 Baronne St., 227-3830