Finishing what I started
It’s been a while since I’ve written in this blog, but there is a good reason.
I had a friend named Donny Taylor who designed this website for us with his wife Molly. This blog was one of his ideas. I wrote the first one, he wrote the next two. When he approached me about a blog I was quite hesitant as I was not sure if I had the discipline nor the patience to do this every month – but he assured me it would get done. Donny was a good friend and one of the few people that truly understood my mission with food. We were taking photos at Miller Livestock one day. The next thing I knew, Aaron Miller put Donny in the middle of a pasture with some cattle. Aaron and I remember taking this photo vividly. You need to know that Donny was not a farmer, but more of a city-boy. Every time Aaron sees it he shakes his head. We laugh thinking about how calm, yet nervous Donny was. There is a steer in this picture that Donny was not too fond of, but I feel that moment; making eye contact with this steer, through the camera, was Donny’s AHA moment!
My friend Donny passed away suddenly a few years ago and this blog went with him. But, I’m going to finish what I started! That includes this blog as well as my mission with local foods and Crosswinds Grille.
Some of you may notice that I’m not around Crosswinds Grille as much as I used to be. I got married, started a state inspected meat processing plant called Na*Kyrsie Meats, and will soon be starting a family. With these new ventures, I surely hope one can understand that I have to spread my time out a bit and compromise. As every business person knows, the goal is not to create a job for yourself, but to create a self-sustaining business.
When we launched our whole animal butchery program in the winter of 2014-15 I knew deep down that it was something bigger. What I did not realize is that it would grow so fast! It overtook our kitchen and coolers. Within the first year, I was breaking a half beef every week along with pigs, lamb and chickens. It was quickly becoming a monster, ironically enough, and I could not keep up. We were constantly running out of steaks and what I thought was enough charcuterie and salumi to last until October was depleted by mid-August. I upset a lot customers and our dining room team, but I stuck to my beliefs and refused to supplement with boxed beef! Everything we served was processed on site from a whole or half animal. I was at a crossroads, I either had to stop what I was doing or make a change – I opted for a change!
In January of 2016, I married Kristen, and shortly after we launched Na*Kyrsie Meats.
A great idea on paper was not so great in real life. The first year was hard. The paperwork for regulations was overwhelming and at the time, the state seemed like my worst enemy. Currently, these state officials have turned out to be a real asset to me! In the first year, I was cautious to keep Crosswinds and Na*Kyrsie separate. As we move forward in year 2, I realize that they work better together than apart! You see, we have a locally sourced restaurant along with a state inspected meat processing plant under the same leadership. This is quite unheard of! While it’s becoming common to have a butcher shop and restaurant joined, we took it a step further. We are inspected by ODA Division of Meat Inspection. Na*Kyrsie has an inspector on site every day which allows us to distribute our product anywhere in Ohio. I do not personally know of any relationship like this. Na*Kyrsie would still only be a dream if Crosswinds did not start down this path almost 3 years ago and Crosswinds would not be able to continue whole animal usage if we did not roll the dice on Na*Kyrsie.
We are still very focused on whole animal usage! Before Na*Kyrsie gets down to the bacon, sausages, ham and salamis, we start with whole animals. This has been very beneficial to our menu at Crosswinds! You see, when I bought a half beef at Crosswinds I only had a few unique parts to use but, when we buy a whole beef every week at Na*Kyrsie it gives us a much greater arsenal to develop our menu from. It allows us to collect a few things and this is what drives our menu. This, along with the ever-changing harvests supplied to us, allows us the freedom to change our menu every 4-6 weeks with more variety and creativity than we ever could before. We aren’t just running specials! We are putting out special menus that are true to the season. We are no longer changing it 6 times a year, we are changing it 12 times a year! As the seasons change, I hope you’ll stop in and see us. We look forward to sharing with you what we are most passionate about – locally sourced foods and whole animal usage!