He's so committed to the humane and sustainable practices out at TLC Ranch that he gave up a position as executive chef at The Ol' Factory Cafe* (which I encourage you to boycott—see below) to open his own butcher shop.
I had the pleasure, again, of spending time with Justin at the ranch on Friday. He said he was taking the weekend to go up to Napa, but when I spoke to him this morning, he said he hadn't gone. Further evidence of commitment? He'd spent the weekend at TLC Ranch, learning how Jim Dunlop cares for his pigs, so that Justin can help care for them this week while Jim and Becky are off at Terra Madre in Italy.
Justin told me on Friday that every time he visits the ranch—which is technically a business visit—he spends about five hours out there. He loves the pigs—as you can see here. (That big pig is Manchi—she just had six spotted babies.)
Speaking of Ol' Factory Cafe, I will never setting foot inside it, and would recommend that everyone avoid the place like the E. Coli plague. (As if going to Sand City is anyone's idea of a good time.)
Why? Because of the owner, Morgan Christopher. I don't like the things he has said and done relating to Justin, including calling him a "confused and misinformed kid" in a lameass email to me. Start there. I'm so glad Justin got out of that bad relationship.
Morgan, if you're reading this: this Bud's for you. (Warning: profanity alert. I apologize to you, dear reader, but I've had enough. Morgan's a wanker.)
Back to Da Man, Justine. He's such an inspiration to me—and to everyone who had the pleasure of attending the Outstanding in the Field farm dinners he cooked at. I'm glad he's following his passion, because the universe is clearly showing him the golden road.
Plus, the guy makes me laugh. When he and Jim get going, I wish I had a video camera. (That's them at Everett Family Farm last Sunday.)
(Do you like Justin's "Pigs in Zen" t-shirt? I designed it, and you can buy one here. Organic cotton, made in the USA.)
I got a great comment here this morning, from Sasha Davies, about the distinction between artisanal cheeses and others. Go visit her great blog, Cheese by Hand, and learn some more. (I am so jealous: she toured America last year...she didn't hit up Bobolink Dairy or Harley Goat Farm Dairy, but she did get to Fiscalini Cheese.)
Thanks, Sasha, for the informative and thoughtful post.
You can buy Justin's artisanal salume, sausages, and more at the Wednesday or Saturday or Sunday Santa Cruz farmers markets. The latter two are not year-round, and Justin or TLC Ranch are not always at the market. I'll post here when he gets his butcher shop open.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “Pigs are not that dirty. And they're smart, strange little creatures. They just need love.“ — Shelley Duvall
Thanks for visiting!
*REMEMBER to BOYCOTT the Ol' FACTORY CAFE. BECAUSE MORGAN CHRISTOPHER IS NOT WORTH SUPPORTING.