Earlier this year we launched our Women-Powered with pineapple collection, where we teamed up with pineapple collaborative to make it easy to support the lady-led spots in your area. One of those very crush-worthy spots is Belcampo—with restaurants in both L.A. and the Bay Area—and we were really excited to sit down (okay, email back and forth) with cofounder Anya Fernald.
Belcampo is a regenerative meat company (!). Can you break that down for those of us who aren’t familiar with what that means?
Belcampo’s farming practices contribute to the health of the planet: Instead of extracting resources, we are farming in a way that regenerates and strengthens the earth and actually removes carbon from the environment (the impact is net carbon negative!).
We hear that you have 25,000 acres of farmland. (Take us there.) Walk us through a day on the farm.
We raise seven species on the farm. Different teams manage each species although there is a lot of collaboration as the animals are raised side by side. The day starts super early — especially in summer. Our team is at it as early as 5 a.m. in order to be done with the day’s work before it gets too hot. The work is mostly outdoors — everything from gathering eggs to moving irrigation lines to moving herds of cows and sheep from one pasture to another. In the late afternoon, a few people will be at computers or desks in the farm office.
How did you get into the meat industry?
In 2005 I moved back to the U.S. after a number of years living in Northern Italy. I missed the clean meat I’d gotten used to eating in Italy and bought a whole grass-fed and finished cow from a ranch near the Bay Area in Capay Valley. That’s A LOT of meat. So, I passed a bunch of it off to my friends — that was my first experience with the meat industry!
What inspired you to revolutionize it?
I saw lots of great examples of fruit and vegetable operations with awesome values and practices that were operating at scale and had great distribution and brands, but nobody seemed to have cracked the code with meat or done anything analogous in the meat industry. That challenge intrigued me.
What was your first job in the food world?
I started a chocolate cookie company when I was 12 years old and ran it for about three years out of my parent’s kitchen. I sold cookies to tailgaters at college football games.
For those new to Belcampo, what do you recommend they try first?
The Belcampo Burger. It’s a game changer.
What’s your go-to at Belcampo, maybe after a long day?
I love our lamb burger with a lettuce wrap and a side of fried broccolini. It’s light but filling and super gratifying.
How often do you let yourself not cook and order delivery? What do you get?
Now that Belcampo delivers, it’s pretty frequently — two or three times a week. My kids love our hamburgers and they also love dumplings, so we get those delivered as well as a special treat from a couple restaurants we like in the Bay Area.
What’s the coolest piece of press you’ve gotten lately (so we can link to it for you)?
The Vegetarians Who Turned Into Butchers from the NYTimes.
Let’s pretend you didn’t go into food. What might you be doing right now?
Something in the wellness or fitness space for sure. I like helping people feel better.
What are you reading right now, food related or otherwise?
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey.
What do you love about serving the Bay Area crowd?
So many things. The Bay has a gusto about good food that I adore. I like how intense people are about food trends and how deep they dive into certain food obsessions. I like how people live their values and ethics through food and how food choices are such a key signifier of culture and connection here.
And the L.A. crowd??
I am invigorated by serving the L.A. crowd. The focus on wellness, the unabashed embracing of new ideas and possibilities, the excitement and willingness to share when they find something they love — it’s all awesome.
Favorite L.A./ Bay Area restaurants that aren’t places you own :)
If you could only eat 5 things for the rest of your life … go.
Beef, chicken, lemons, sweet potatoes, olive oil
Anything fun on the horizon for Belcampo?
I am hosting a couple of meat camps in the upcoming month that I am so excited about — we host about 30 people at the farm for a weekend, cook a ton of meat, drink good wine, and hang out under the stars. The camps are a highlight of my autumns. It’s the very best time at the farm — apples on the trees, warm days/cool nights, heaven on earth for me.
Oh, now you want to order Belcampo? Weird. ❤