Who teaches Chicago Meat Collective Classes?
All of our classes are taught by experienced butchers, chefs, and other meat artisans from the Chicagoland area. Some are self-taught, while others studied at culinary schools, taught for decades at agricultural schools, or learned from knowledgeable mentors. Each instructor will have a slightly different regional style, be it American, French, Italian, Japanese, or a unique amalgamation of influences. One of the CMC’s many strengths is that with each teacher students study under, they gain a new perspective on the animal in front of them.
How are the classes structured?
The classes are all hands-on unless otherwise noted. Most of our classes are either three or four hours, although we do occasionally offer shorter demonstrations, and may eventually offer weekend long process-oriented classes. Typically, in a four-hour butchery class the instructor gives an hour-long demo to no more than 12 students. Then the group is split up into two, with each group in charge of breaking down their own half or whole animal. Instructors guide each group through the process, but largely put the onus on the students to do all the cutting. For cooking or charcuterie classes, the instructor will potentially demo throughout the class but will also encourage students to do the bulk of the work to produce sausages, for instance, or other products. The last hour of the class is typically spent eating charcuterie and discussing what students just learned. We hope to create a space for constructive conversation and debate on the best way to source meat from local farmers, the truth behind slaughterhouses, or the consequences of factory farming, and the ethics of eating meat.
Do I need to bring my own tools?
You are welcome to bring your own tools, but it is not required. We provide everything a students needs to succeed in our classes. The only thing we ask you to bring is an apron. If you don't have one, we always have CMC aprons for sale at our classes. Our handsome, sturdy aprons, printed with the CMC logo, are made of 100% raw cotton canvas. We currently sell them for $45. Prices are subject to change.
Do I have to kill animals during the class?
“Slaughter” refers to the harvesting (i.e. killing) of animals for consumption. “Butchery” refers to the act of processing the meat once the animal has been slaughtered. In other words, when you are butchering an animal you are parsing out the pork chops from the hams and the belly from the shoulder roasts. Our classes start from the point of butchery, or processing, of animals that have already been slaughtered.
Where do the classes take place?
We are a traveling butchery school, and plan to operate in a diverse array of spaces as we teach our classes. Our goal is to prove that butchery can happen just about anywhere with the right tools and temperatures. We most often teach classes in commercial kitchens around Chicago, and we certainly have a few favorite, regular spaces we work out of, but we will also teach classes at wineries, restaurants, and farms. Once you sign up for a class, we let you know where it will be held.
Are the classes that you currently have scheduled the only types of classes that you offer?
We tend to offer the following classes on a regular (once-a-month, or once-every-other-month) basis: Basic Pig Butchery, Basic Sausage Making, Introduction to Cooked Charcuterie, Basic Poultry Butchery. But we look forward to adding to our curriculum, and are always open to suggestions and requests. We can also teach private classes if a group would like to hire an instructor from the CMC to teach a particular class. Please contact McCullough Kelly-Willis with inquiries.
How do I sign up for a class?
We sell tickets through a startup from New York called withfriends - you can find our profile here. On our profile, you can buy tickets for upcoming events, and you can also choose to support us with a monthly donation. Each monthly donation level comes with perks, from a sticker, to a discount, to a printed recipe booklet. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about registering for classes.