Tag Archives: Chef Courtney Contos

IT’S A TIE! (as in neckwear) – plus ohmy, I’m going to be on TV!

3 Mar

me in a tie! with Sam Fuller of the Northeast Organic Farm Association (he's the young guy)

Proving that I am a true fashion plate of the butchering world.

This Tuesday we “formally” launched The Gourmet Butcher DVD, at the wonderful Michael’s on the Hill Restaurant in Waterbury Vermont, with chef/owner Michael Kloeti providing the food (Gourmet Butcher meat recipes, natch) and terrific hospitality.

Over 80 people showed up, from all walks of life.  In typical Vermont fashion, it was a wonderful stew (which is why I love this place): local farmers, culinary writers, chefs, foodies, local merchants, bloggers…

Welcome Books publisher Lena Tabori and Chef Courtney Contos

Among our guests were Welcome Books’ Lena Tabori (publisher of Primal Cuts:  Cooking with America’s Top Butchers), Molly Stevens (James Beard award winner culinary author and chef), Jenn Campus (co-founder of the Foodie Blogroll, AKA “The Leftover Queen”) and a cross-section of chefs, culinary educators, farmers and representatives from the Vermont Fresh Network, Northeast Organic Farming Association and University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

James Beard award winning author Molly Stevens and Chef Michael Kloeti of Michael's on the Hill

All the meat was local, with beef contributed by Boyden Farms in Cambridge, Vermont and pork and lamb from North Hollow Farms of Rochester, Vermont and Green Top Farm of Hyde Park Vermont.  Wines were from Vermont Wine Merchants.

Our launch partner was the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce, which with all involved, is committed to the growing movement to develop and redesign the agriculture and specialty food industry of Vermont.

Jenn (the Leftover Queen herself) with husband Roberto Campus

Lena Tabori, Joe Padulo, Chef Courtney Contos, Chef Tom Bivins of New England Culinary Institute and Alice Levitt of Seven Days

Apprentice butcher Iliana Filby


Watch me and Chef Courtney Contos live on WCAX-TV Channel 3 Vermont Friday morning at 6:50am…preparing one of the Gourmet Butchers Recipes…..

Or for those of you who can’t get up early, wait and I’ll post it online.


Joe Padulo, Karen Coshof and Michael Taylor of The Gourmet Butcher (see? we’re a team!)


Meat Chef Courtney

9 Feb

Chef Courtney Contos

I’d like to introduce you to a good friend – Chef Courtney Contos, whom I got to know over various meat counters the past few years.  Courtney lives in Vermont now, but she grew up in Chicago (she’ll tell you about that herself).  We work so well together that I asked her to join me for the filming of The Gourmet Butcher culinary butchering course… it seemed obvious that people would want to know how to turn those cuts of meat into heaven on a plate.  (Heaven is Courtney’s territory; mine is… hmmm.)

Take it away, Courtney…

(Courtney)  “I grew up in a culinary family in Chicago.  We owned restaurants:  Chez Paul, Maison de Lago, The Flying Frenchman.  I figured I’d follow in their footsteps and open my own restaurant, so I went to a restaurant / hotel management school.  It also taught culinary arts, and the students running around in their white aprons just looked like they were having more fun than I was.  So I became a chef.”

“I always wanted to live in Vermont, so here I am.  I wanted to know my neighbours, my local farmers, my butcher – which is how I met Cole.  So when he asked me to join him for the filming of The Gourmet Butcher, I leapt at the chance.  Because I want to get the message out that butchering your own meat isn’t just for good ‘ol boys … it’s for everybody.”

“You may not know it, but there’s  not much meat-cutting instruction in culinary school.  I remember watching a butchering demonstration by one of our instructors, but we did very little of it ourselves.  What we did do was chickens.  Lots and lots of chickens… in fact, it felt like we de-boned chickens for weeks.  And we also did a lot of fish filleting, but for some reason – probably cost – no one ever brought in a side of beef and said “now we’re going to learn how to butcher.”  Maybe it’s different in some schools now because of the trend towards cutting your own meat, but back then, nope.”

“And that’s a pity, because knowing how to cut your own meat is a real confidence builder. You feel more comfortable in the kitchen when you can say, “I know this piece of meat, I know where it came from, and I know what to do with it.”  There’s an instant connection to a piece of meat that you have been involved in butchering.  So I can see why chefs and home cooks are taking butchering classes.”

“I think more and more chefs are interested in learning about different cuts of meat. Most of them use the same cuts over and over – that’s just the way the restaurant business has worked.  So you have your filet, you have your strips and so on.  Now there’s a big movement to use the whole animal, which I love. The nose to tail movement is important… it honors the animal and encourages people to think outside the standard “steak, roast, chops”.

So Rock on Gourmet Butcher!