With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s a particularly busy time for Fleisher’s Grass-fed and Organic Meats. The old-fashioned butcher shop at 307 Wall Street has not only been pleasing palettes with its healthy and locally raised natural meats but also resurrecting the art of butchery through its apprenticeships and classes—and in the meantime generated articles in the national media as well as being featured in the high-profile memoir, Cleaving: a Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession by Julie Powell (author of Julie & Julia, which inspired the popular film).
Co-owner Josh Applegate appeared on The Martha Stewart Show last spring—he showed her how to break down a pig—and will be participating on Iron Chef on December 12, as one of the judges rating the dishes participants will concoct from a secret ingredient. (Fleisher’s will also be contributing the ingredient; it provided the veal featured on the show last month). Clearly this small Kingston business is making waves far beyond the confines of Wall Street.
Right now, it’s taking orders for its free-range turkeys—free of antibiotics and hormones, of course–which are raised on Dutchess County farms. As of Monday, already half of its orders had been filled, so don’t delay in ordering your delicious bird. The cost is $8.99 per pound, and the gobblers range from eight to 30 pounds—the store recommends allowing for a four-pound margin. Fleisher’s is also offering 10-pound capons (a castrated rooster, with extra-tender meat).
The next upcoming workshop, “Steer to Beef,” is on November 14, followed by “Pig to Pork,” on December 5 (which is also the start of a five-day Butchery 101 Class, which covers knife skills, breaking down animals, and sanitation). The one-day workshops are $300, which includes three meals and a visit to the farm to pick up the slaughtered animal. The longer class is $2,000, plus $100 for knives (which students keep). Employee Lindsay Pugnali said a couple of Martha Stewart’s assistants as well as a few employees from the Food Network were planning to attend one of the one-day workshops.
As mentioned, Fleisher’s also offers apprenticeships. Currently a young man from New Jersey and a woman from Portland, Oregon, are participating in eight-week programs, and a recent Bard grad is serving a two-week stint, concentrating on pork. Fleisher’s employs eight employees, including the owners, Josh and his wife, Jessica.
Fleisher’s makes 12 deliveries a week of whole animals to restaurants in New York City, with some piggyback orders going to Westchester County. But the owners are equally focused on their retail business: they’ve purchased the former Neko’s luncheonette and are meeting with an architect to redesign the space, with plans for an upstairs teaching arena and downstairs retail store, perhaps including a restaurant. Fleisher’s is open on Thursday and Friday from 11 to 7 and from Saturday 10-6; Tuesdays and Wednesdays are devoted to its wholesale business.