Today we speak to Virginia based butcher shop owner Ryan Ford.
I’m a Virginia native. I’m grew up in Vienna, and graduated from William & Mary. After I got married, my wife and I left our careers in New York City (I was in sports marketing, she was in photography) and moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, on a whim, where we opened an antique store and I developed an interest in farm fresh food.
At the time, locally raised meat was only available to the general public in frozen form on Saturdays at the local farmer’s markets, so my brother-in-law and I opened a butcher shop in Middleburg called The Organic Butcher with the idea that we’d open a few of these outlets throughout the region. (This was right on the cusp of when opening butcher shops was becoming cool, and while I do have a butcher shop and a beard, I have zero tattoos.)
Not long after opening the butcher shops, I realized that the challenge to expand beyond two Organic Butcher locations was that it was incredibly difficult to source local meat, and that the processing bottleneck in the mid-Atlantic region was the problem. So twelve years later we decided to make a big investment and commitment and create a plant. The focus of Seven Hills Foods is regional, and we’re smaller-scale and focused on sustainability. We’ll be working with local producers and will process their products in an abattoir in Lynchburg that’s been in use off and on for 100 years. It’s a forgotten urban gem that we’ve completely refurbished, and we’ll officially be open for business in August.
As for Ryan’s personal style:
Jeans: RRL & Co. Durable. Pricey for work but they last forever.
Shirts: Ledbury. Was strongly advised by those close to me that my t-shirt days were over five …er, ten…years ago. Need to wear a collar, although t-shirts are the best.
Pants: Hiltl. They fit right off the shelf. With others sometimes have to pull waists in to the point that the back pockets touch.
Suits: Vintage Gucci. There was a time that I wore suits five days a week. Wear lots of sport coats.
Shoes: Carolina Boots for work. Hate flip-flops and never go barefoot if I don’t have to.
Accessories: I do not wear jewelry, including a wedding ring. I just don’t like that stuff. I’ll go through six-month periods of not wearing a watch then wear one for a few weeks. I like wearing my wife’s vintage men’s Rolex that was “given” to her by her first child on her first Mothers’ Day. I like feeling the connection it represents.
Outerwear: Barbour rain jacket/windbreaker that gets lots of use.
Favorite Cologne: Never used the stuff. Get some scent from my shaving foam – Santa Maria Novella. Awesome stuff.
Your favorite App: I have never bought an App. Besides making calls and using email, I use my Calendar and Weather apps to the max.
Favorite piece of technology: Seydelmann bowl-chopper which is an amazing German engineered meat cutter that is just super cool.
Next tech purchase: Just committed to purchase software and hardware that will allow us to track yields and animal traceability when implemented in our abattoir. Very excited about how we can use data to do our jobs better and to give customers more information about what they are eating.