Food Informants is a week-in-the-life series profiling fascinating people in the food world. We hope it will give you a first-hand look at the many different corners of the food industry. Know someone who would make a great Food Informant? Tell us why.
Erika Nakamura and Amelia Posada are the owners, managers and butchers in chief of LA's artisanal butcher shop Lindy and Grundy. (Erika is Grundy and Amelia is Lindy.) The two, who also live together and are a couple, opened their store on Fairfax last spring (profiled on HuffPost Food). Lindy and Grundy has already been feted as one of the most best butchers in Southern California -- and quite possibly its most sustainable.
Erika got her start in the culinary world in Tokyo, where she was born and raised. Her first job was cooking at her family friend’s Indian restaurant. After college, Erika moved back to New York City and went on to attend The French Culinary Institute. She found professional kitchens stressful, so she started working at the meat and fish counter at her neighborhood gourmet grocery, which specialized in local and sustainable products. Soon after, Erika started an apprenticeship at an upstate New York butcher shop. After two weeks, she knew she had found her calling. Erika was a natural butcher.
Amelia was born and raised in Pasadena, CA by her hardworking, chef mother, who specialized in developing menus for food allergies, like gluten intolerance. She gradually became more involved in community outreach programs and eventually moved to Brooklyn, NY, to complete her degree in journalism. Amelia was a vegetarian when she met Erika and the two started dating. As Erika pursued her culinary interests, Amelia worked as a floral designer at luxury New York hotels. Over the years, she became an adventurous eater and, after 14 years of vegetarianism, developed a taste for bacon. Amelia’s curiosity and enthusiasm for the culinary arts eventually led the couple to move to the Hudson Valley for a butchering apprenticeship. It was soon after that she was motivated by what she saw as the injustice of factory meat farming to become a full-time sustainable butcher.
Here's a week in the life of Amelia and Erika -- AKA Lindy and Grundy.
Monday, August 22
9:30am: Slept in late -- Monday is my one day off. It's my favorite day of the week.
9:32am: Checking email and all social media accounts, getting back to people.
11:45am: Leave in car, we head to the shop.
11:55am: Grab chicken liver pate, crackers and snack while opening mail and looking over invoices.
12:20pm: Talk to cattle rancher about picking up 3 whole steer on Wednesday -- we are out of beef again.
2pm: Leave to drop off chorizo at Picca, a new restaurant. The Executive Chef, Ricardo Zarate, is a friend of ours. We make all of our own sausages in house. Our chorizo is amazing and Picca uses it on the menu. We hand tie each link of chorizo with butchers twine, so that they are about one inch long, as per the request of Chef Zarate!
4:20pm: Lunch (ahi tuna sandwich and veggies and a beer).
5:15pm: Back at home, pour glass of wine, check email and place cheese order with Cowgirl creamery, via email.
5:45pm: Nap for an hour.
7:30pm: Make dinner: penne pasta, with our sweet italian sausage.
Tuesday, August 23
7:30am: Wake up, text employees the morning prep/to-do list while snoozing.
9am: Leave house to go to Koontz hardware to pick up mineral oil and other provisions for the shop.
10:15am: Arrive at butcher shop, grab an apron and hair net, inspect the shop, check temps, make sure everyone set the cases up correctly, check in with all employees, put cash in register drawer. Erika writes out daily cut list.
10:55am: Yell out "five minutes!" to my crew. Make sure my red lipstick is on.
11am: Open the shop for business
11:15am: Regular customer, Rick, walks in. We catch up, then I help him with his usual order: 3 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded, 1 lb. of beef 'n bacon grind, pulled pork.
11:35am: Fill out forms for the CA Department of Food & Agriculture, fax forms to my inspector.
12pm: Start butchering beef for the case.
1:30pm: We're taste-testing sausages for accuracy (new cooks at the shop, so have to make sure the sausages are done correctly!). Our kielbasa turned out DELICIOUS.
4:30pm: Time to butcher another pig to get more chops in the case! Now realize that we didn't schedule any employees for the afternoon/evening...oops! Now we have twice as much to do!
6:45pm: Several people in shop, we're cutting dry-aged steaks up the wazoo!
7:30pm: Closing time! Close friend Kim, walks in to help us close.
7:40pm: Local chef calls us, he needs 200lbs of beef and chicken bones for stock! We start getting his order together.
9:30pm: Finished closing up shop for the night, now lugging all the bones into reefer truck to deliver to restaurant.
10:45pm After we give him the bones, chef brings us out an 8 course feast and drinks!! WE ARE SO LUCKY!
12:30am: STUFFED from late dinner. Leaving downtown, heading home.
1am: Get ready for bed, pass out. we're pooped.
Wednesday, August 24
7am: Alarm goes off, snooze until 7:20.
8:15am: Check email & social media accounts.
8:30am: Leave for the shop.
8:55am: Check all stations, check all temps in meat cases, walk in. Erika writes out daily cut list.
10am: Erika starts cutting lamb for the case (and teaching the boys how to break lamb).
11am: Open for business.
11:15am: We both taste test sausages before they get linked for the case.
3pm: Terry, the driver, is here with 3 whole steer from Rancho San Julian, our cattle rancher in Lompoc, CA.
3:15pm: We alert the customers that we have to close the shop for 30 minutes or so to load in the beef, so we finish up with the folks in the shop and then start to prepare for receiving the beef: we flip the sign to closed and scribble a note to put on the windows, saying, "come back in 30 min, we have to accept beef delivery, thanks!"
3:35pm: Amelia climbs up onto ladder, thermometer and receiving list in hand, ready to guide the meat onto hooks for the Lindy & Grundy boys who are hauling the beef in.
4:15pm: Beef is loaded in and has been inspected and temperatures have been taken! We sweep, mop and sanitize the shop, wash up and open back up.
4:45pm: Erika starts breaking beef, fresh for the case!
7:30pm: Closed! Start breaking down the cases
9pm: Head home.
9:45pm: Cook late dinner: our beef & bacon grind -- burgers!
12am: Crawl into bed.
Thursday, August 25
7am: Wake up, put laundry in dryer, crawl back into bed to check email and social media on my phone.
7:25am: Text employees the morning to-do/prep list.
7:55am: Make up.
8:30am: Leave for the shop.
8:45am: Enter shop, grab apron, hairnet, wash up.
9am: Check in with all employees, adjust cases, check temps on all coolers, inspect shop and record sanitation requirements. Erika writes out daily cut list.
9:40am: Pig delivery arrives, so I put boxes of dairy in fridge until I can restock them after accepting delivery.
9:58am: My guys start loading pigs, I help guide them into hook, through cut tendon on rear trotter.
9:20am: All pigs are loaded, so I take 3 internal temperatures of each pig and inspect the animals. We got in 2 pigs, split. One weighed 207 lbs., the other was 202. Check the kidneys and whole carcass.
9:55am: Back to processing area, wash hands .
10:05am: Start paperwork, reapply red lipstick.
11am: Open for business.
7:40pm: Close for business.
7:45pm: Start repapering trays of meat with fresh trays and paper, then wrapping for the night (this process is then repeated in the morning).
9pm: Grab a leftover roasted chicken, some cowgirl creamery cheese, head home.
9:15pm: Cut up chicken, heat up tortillas, make chicken & kimchi tacos. Mmmm.
10:50pm: Set 3 alarms for the morning, head to bed.
Friday, August 26
7am: Wake up, check emails from bed, text employees morning prep list.
8:30am: Get to shop, grab apron, hairnet and wash up.
10am: 45 minute skype interview with author of book we're being featured in.
11am: Open for business, Erika starts butchering beef for the case.
12pm: Erika still butchering up a storm!
4pm: COFFEE RUN! We're all exhausted.
9:00pm: Leaving the shop to go drop leftover roasted chickens to friend, Evan Kleiman (she loves our chickens, so we offered to drop some off!).
9:25pm: Heading home to meet friend who has ordered pizza from our favorite spot: Vito's!
10:35pm: Head downtown to a big party.
11:10pm: HUGE line at venue, friends let us in though, PHEW! Too tired for a line!
11:30pm: Settle down in booth with friends and beers.
11:45pm: Customers spot us and approach us to rave about our roasted chickens!! (Thinking to self: where were you these past few days??? Hahah, we had leftover chickens all week!) They are right though, the chickens are delicious.
12:20am: Leave bar, head home.
Saturday, August 27
8:20am: Head to shop.
9am: Erika writes out her daily cut list, everyone filling special orders -- we have 23 to fill before 11am so everyone is hustling while also setting up case!
11:15am: ALREADY SLAMMED…. SATURDAY IS SOOO BUSY!!!!! Erika is butchering ALLLLL DAY, Amelia is on the counter with customers!
3pm: A friend brings us all food!! What a saint!!!
6:15pm: Attempt to eat first bite of food of the day…foiled! Customers walk in, back to the counter I go!
7:30pm: CLOSED! Flip the sign to closed and start breaking down the cases and checking Sunday’s special orders.
9pm: Finished! Head home.
Sunday, August 28
7am: Wake up!
8:10am: Grab coffee.
10am: Special VIP regular arrives for his weekly Sunday order: butterflied leg of lamb, 8 chicken steaks, 2 full racks of pork spare ribs and 3 lbs. of lamb loin chops.
10:15am: Customer leaves, we scramble to finish special orders and set up cases before 11am!! AAAAAAAAHHHHhhhhHHHHHhH!
11:10am: SLAMMED already.
12:30pm: Erika breaks a side of pig to replenish pork case.
5:30pm: We were supposed to close at 5pm on Sundays, but people keep flooding in! Last customer of the day, they get: 3 types of cheese, BBQ sauce, mustard, bacon, ground beef, sirloin tip steaks.
5:45pm: Our student, Spencer arrives for the pig butchering class he won at a silent auction -- we donated a class. A mutual friend arrives with him to snap photos! We get him washed up, and geared up to butcher!
6:15pm: He wheels out a pig and starts class with Erika.
8:15pm: Spencer finishes up his first hog butchering class and he did a GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!! Spencer, want a job?? I head home to eat drink and relax with the wifey. Monday is our day off, so Sunday we try to let loose! Yaay!
Geoff Bartakovics, 34, is the co-founder and CEO of Tasting Table, the free daily email publication all about food & drink culture. Before starting Tasting Table, Geoff was a business manager in asset-backed finance at UBS Investment Bank, where he coordinated business activities among the fixed income trading desk and the bank's middle- and back-office functions. Geoff was formerly a business analyst at Deloitte Consulting. He attended The University of Chicago, from which he graduated with honors in English. He was a Fulbright Scholar in comparative literature and philosophy in Berlin and Hamburg. He's an obsessive dinner party entertainer and a serious home cook. Read Geoff's diary here.
Elizabeth Laseter, an aspiring food journalist, is a recent graduate of Johns Hopkins University and lives in Washington, D.C. She received her diploma in Writing and Art History and is now pursuing a Culinary Arts Degree at L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Md. The one-year program includes six months of learning techniques in the classroom and six months at an externship in a D.C. fine dining restaurant. Elizabeth documents her food adventures through two blogs, The Baltimore Food Rag and The D.C. Food Rag. She decided to attend culinary school after interning at Baltimore magazine and working with the food editor. Read Elizabeth's full diary here.
Jane and Terry Levan operate a 20-acre pastured poultry farm outside of Lexington, Texas called Dewberry Hills Farm, after the dewberry vines that grow wild on their land. They raise antibiotic- and hormone-free meat chickens for sale. Their chickens mostly live outdoors. The Devans call themselves "omnivores with a conscience;" Jane won't eat any meat unless she personally knowns who raised it and how it was processed. Jane and Terry began farming in 2003, after reading Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma. The pair had always wanted to farm, but they didn't want to follow the industrial agricultural model. Jane and Terry built a processing building on-site and became state certified so they could sell their birds commercially in May 2008. Read Jane's diary here.
"James" is an Apple employee. He works at Caffe Macs, the on-site cafeteria of Apple's campus in Cupertino, Ca. Reminiscent of Google's epic food offerings, Caffe Macs is pretty much a corporate food court dream-come-true. Read James' diary here.
Brooklyn-based Aaron Lefkove used to work in book publishing and as a freelance writer. After his office re-located to New Jersey, Lefkove decided he didn't want to do the commute. Lefkove and his business partner, Andy Curtin, had the idea for a Cape Cod-style seafood joint for awhile. One day at a barbecue, they decided to commit to opening a restaurant, Littleneck, Brooklyn's first and only classic New England-style beach side seafood shack. Besides working in restaurants growing up, Lefkove had no experience as a restaurateur. He acknowledges that the process has been a major learning curve, but so far, there haven't been any obstacles they couldn't get around. At first, he thought opening up a clam shack would be easier than finding a new job but it turns it that it is actually "WAY WAY WAY harder." Despite this being the "hardest, most stressful, most frustrating, most time consuming, most ambitious thing" he has ever done, it isn't nearly as hard as he thought it would be. Plus, he says he loves working for himself, working toward something he has "always dreamed about," and building something really exciting. Read Aaron Lefkove's diary here.
Jonathan Stich, 29, is a third generation farmer from Burlington, Wisconsin. He grew weary of the corporate world, went traveling and decided to become a farmer. After reading about how heirloom tomato grower Tim Stark in Pennsylvania sells his products to New York restaurants, Stich made the decision to spend a night in restaurants in Milwaukee and Chicago asking if they'd be interesting in buying local produce. Read more about Jonathan Stich's week here.
Erika Nakamura and Amelia Posada are the owners, managers and butchers in chief of LA's artisanal butcher shop Lindy and Grundy. (Erika is Grundy and Amelia is Lindy.) The two, who also live together and are a couple, opened their store on Fairfax last spring (profiled on HuffPost Food). Lindy and Grundy has already been feted as one of the most best butchers in Southern California -- and quite possibly its most sustainable. Read about a week in the life of Erika Nakamura and Amelia Posada's here.
Recently, inspired by a meeting at the San Francisco Food Bank, chef Karl Wilder started the food stamp challenge: living and eating on a food stamp budget. What began as a one week project has turned into a two-month long commitment. Wilder calculated that a family has $1.33 to spend per meal, and decided that when using oil and seasonings, the cost would be $1.22. In total, he has less than $4 to spend on food per day. He monitors his nutrition and caloric intake on FitDay. You can read more about his daily experiences at on his blog, Fusion On The Fly. Read about a week in the life of Karl Wilder here.
Chris Cosentino is the executive chef of San Francisco's Incanto, an offal-heavy (not sure what offal is? Check out our Whole Animal Guide here) rustic Italian restaurant located in San Francisco. While encouraging patrons to try different cuts of meat, Cosentino also champions eating locally. He's previously cooked at such renowned restaurants as Kinkead's and Chez Panisse, and cites Jean-Louis Palladin as a big influence on his cooking style. He also co-owns Boccalone, which sells various cured meats and house-made salami. To learn more about Cosentino, check out his website, Offal Good. Read about a week in the life of Chris Cosentino here.
"Jane," 24, has been working for Trader Joe's since 2007, though in 2009 she left for over a year to go work for Whole Foods. She did not like it there and returned to TJ's. At Trader Joe's, every employee does a range of tasks, but Jane's speciality is dairy. Below is her explanation of the pros and cons of the job: I like working for Trader Joe's because they pay me well and offer great benefits. They also respect me as an employee and make me feel like I'm useful and needed and not just another part-time employee that can be replaced (which has been the case at other retail jobs I've had). Trader Joe's is really good at hiring great people and I'm lucky to have so many wonderful co-workers. I don't like working at Trader Joe's because the work can be strenuous on my back and wrists. Being on a register for several hours at a time is tiring and somewhat soul crushing due to ignorant people who feel the need to be condescending to me because I work at a grocery store. I also feel that the company is becoming more and more corporate as it grows and it is beginning to have an impact on the enjoyability of being a part-time "crew member." I also work in a very busy store which causes the managers to stress out a lot and I don't enjoy being surrounded by it. Read about a week in the life of a Trader Joe's employee here.
Chef Nate Appleman is the Culinary Manager at Chipotle. This involves a range of tasks including developing new menu items, opening ShopHouse (Chipotle's upcoming Asian fast-casual chain) and furthering Chipotle's commitment to sustainable sourcing. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Appleman was previously executive chef and co-owner of San Francisco's super popular Italian restaurants A16 and SPQR. Appleman moved to New York in 2010 to open Pulino's. After leaving, Appleman took his current position at Chipotle. He has received a James Beard award for Rising Star Chef, been anointed Best New Chef by Food & Wine and is the champion of Food Network's Chopped All-Stars. Read about a week in the life of Nate Appleman here.
Freeganism is a lifestyle in which one employs "alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources." Gio Andollo is a writer, artist, musician and freegan. Andollo became a freegan when he realized that artists don't get paid much, but he didn't like the idea of working a "crappy, part-time job" to pay the bills. So he found another way. Andollo performs on the subway for about 20 hours a week, typically in two-hour intervals. He makes $10 to $50 per shift and has a love/hate relationship with busking. Andollo will buy food, but very rarely. The majority of his food comes from trash touring, or dumpster diving. He's become increasingly concerned with the abuses inherent in current economic systems: waste of resources, exploitation of people, degradation of the environment, calloused treatment of animals, commodification of time, labor, even war (thus human life in wholesale). In addition to busking part-time, he writes songs, blogs and books about these issues. Read about a week in the life of Gio Andollo here.
Captain Jason Joyce is an eighth-generation resident of Swan's Island, Maine. He is a Coast Guard Licensed Captain and a registered Maine Tidewater Guide. He has done lobster and fish research with the University of Maine, the University of Massachusetts, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and the Lobster Institute. Joyce is currently doing a lot of work with the Penobscot East Resource Center, which works to secure a viable future for the fishing communities of eastern Maine. Each week, he records HD video of lobstering that he gives to restaurants to educate customers about sustainable lobster fisheries in Maine. Captain Joyce is married to his high school sweetheart and they have four children. Learn more about Captain Jason Joyce here. Read about a week in the life of Jason Joyce here.
Martin Kastner is a serviceware designer extraordinaire/jack-of-all-design-trades for Grant Achatz's Alinea, Next and The Aviary. Kastner creates custom pieces that work with Achatz's elaborate and intricate food. Born in the Czech Republic, Kastner trained as a blacksmith and received an MFA in sculpture. (His thesis was about air). He met his American wife in Prague and moved to the US in 1998. In 2003, Kastner received an unexpected email from Grant Achatz, who had emailed a host of designers. Kastner was the only one to respond. They've partnered not only on serviceware, but also on web design, video and the Alinea cookbook. Kastner's other clients include L20 (an upscale, seafood-focused Chicago restaurant), Le Bernardin (Eric Ripert's homage to seafood) and Empellon (Alex Stupak's new Mexican restaurant in New York). Read about a week in the life of Martin Kastner here.