The Food Biz: Butcher bloc

A pair of well-known local chefs bring an old-as-new-again butcher shop to Porter Road in East Nashville [From our print edition featured in Monday's City Paper]

Two accomplished chefs are opening a full-service butcher shop in East Nashville, where they will not only offer premium cuts of locally raised meat, but they’ll also sell local produce, handmade veggie burgers and ready-to-go side dishes made in house.

Nashville has lost all its standalone butcher shops, so Porter Road Butcher is a welcome addition. But it also takes the butcher-shop concept further. In a move that’s either extremely traditional or cutting-edge (depending on how you look it at), owners Chris Carter and James Peisker plan to use the entire animal, making gourmet sausage with the meat scraps, cooking up fresh soup stock with the bones and rendering the fat to make rich pie crust.

Carter, who lives in East Nashville and grew up in Hendersonville, attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale, Ariz., and honed his skills at Arizona restaurants including Fleming’s. Peisker is from St. Louis, attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., studied Chinese cuisine in the Sichuan province and worked at various St. Louis fine dining spots including Brasserie by Niche, where he was executive sous chef. And he spent time working and learning at The Butcher & Larder, “Chicago’s first locally sourced, whole animal butcher shop.” He also now lives in East Nashville.

The two met at the Capitol Grille in the Hermitage Hotel, where they both worked stints under Chef Tyler Brown. In October, they started their own catering company, the simply titled Local Catering. Carter said they considered opening a restaurant but retail beckoned.

“What it really comes down to is we wanted to use high-end ingredients,” Carter said, which in a restaurant setting, would necessitate high menu prices. “We figured that was a risk.”

Meanwhile, “The more we worked with the catering business, the more we noticed it was hard to get fresh ingredients,” Carter said. So it made sense to set up shop.

They selected a former commercial building on Porter Road across from The Family Wash. They plan to build a kitchen and install all the equipment needed to prepare and sell the meats and to-go items. In addition to sausages and hot dogs, they’ll make their own deli meats like roast beef, corned beef and turkey.

“We don’t want to serve dinner, but we want to give people everything they need for dinner at home,” Carter said. He also promises cole slaw and pimento cheese. “We’ll make it from scratch, including the mayo,” which he said they’ll whip up with a little oil and local farm eggs.

The team hopes to open by July 4, but Carter said it might take a few weeks longer. Even when the buildout is finished, they’ll have to stock the store with all their handcrafted foods.

In the meantime, they’re still catering. You can check that out at www.localcatering.com, and follow the progress of the store on the Porter Road Butcher page on Facebook.

Turnip Truck chef moving on

One of the best food developments of the past year, especially for folks who live or work in The Gulch, has been the opening of The Turnip Truck Urban Fare. An offshoot of entrepreneur John Dyke’s longstanding Turnip Truck natural market in East Nashville, the Gulch store not only has shelves stocked with organic and natural groceries (including meat, dairy products and produce — grown locally whenever possible), but also a hot and cold bar featuring excellent daily entrees, salads, side dishes and desserts.

As executive chef, Laura Wilson took on the massive, time-consuming task of launching a brand-new commercial kitchen and overseeing a creative menu of prepared foods. And somehow she managed to squeeze in an appearance at the Nashville Scene’s Iron Fork competition last month, where she battled four other chefs and — with her able sous chef, Sam Tucker — took the trophy.

Now Wilson is ready for a break. Just before her 40th birthday last week, she resigned. “I loved working here, and I have a great deal of respect for the owner and the company, but I just want to spend more time with my son,” she said (her son is 2½). “The job is more of a time investment than I can afford right now.”

For his part, Turnip Truck owner John Dyke said: “I’m a huge fan of Laura Wilson. She helped us set up a wonderful food service operation, trained great staff. I respect her creativity. Wherever she goes, whatever she does, it will be incredible.”

So what is Laura Wilson’s plan for the future? “I’m going on vacation to Florida. I plan to have a lovely summer,” she said with a laugh.