Bill Cavanaugh is a butcher and meat-production educator. Originally from New York, Bill’s worked in the Hudson Valley and Brooklyn at Fleisher’s Meats as Director of Production, and as the business manager of a start-up butcher shop in Pennsylvania. Passionate about well-raised meat, he’s worked his whole career to find new and creative ways to celebrate and showcase the amazing meat produced by farmers committed to less-intensive practices. Bill’s taught meat cutting trainings at Vermont Tech since 2016 and relishes the opportunity to share his knowledge with folks new to the meat cutting world.
We’ve asked Bill a few questions about his work as a meat cutting instructor for Vermont Tech. Read on to learn more! You can also register here for Meat Cutting: Butchering Basics.
What got you interested in working with well-raised meat?
I’ve always been an eater first and foremost. I realized early on that there was a huge difference between pasture raised/grassfed meat and what I was buying in the grocery store. I started to seek out well-raised meat and was lucky enough to come across Fleisher’s in Kingston, NY (no longer there sadly, although the company lives on) which really catalyzed my interest in just how good meat could be. From there, I sort of changed my whole career plan and after college started working on farms that raised really high quality meat, and eventually ended up working for Fleisher’s.
Can you explain how Vermont farmers incorporate “less intensive” practices on their farms?
In general, Vermont has a great livestock industry led by farmers who are really committed to animal welfare, and preserving heritage breeds. For me the concept of “less-intensive” involves paying close attention to what the animal needs as it’s growing. There are a lot of methods to raise pigs, for instance, but it’s pretty clear what a pig needs is to be outside. So the practices can take a lot of forms, but there are some real basics that a lot of folks in Vermont do really well.
What’s your favorite meat to work with?
What a hard question to answer! I love working with pork because it’s definitely my favorite meat to eat (and my favorite animal to raise), but I also love cutting beef because you can work with individual muscles to generate just a ton of different, interesting cuts. I also love making sausage.
Who should enroll in Vermont Tech’s meat cutting trainings?
Pretty much anyone interested in meat can learn from these trainings. I try to get folks as much hands-on time as possible so that they come away feeling more comfortable with working with meat themselves. I’ve had chefs, retail meat cutters, homesteaders, and home cooks in my classes, as well as a ton of farmers.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Nothing much else to say other than I’m really passionate about being able to share my skills with folks who are interested in learning about how to cut meat. We’ve run a bunch of these trainings with Vermont Tech over the last few years and I just have a blast doing it every time!