Christophe Hille of Fleisher’s Craft Butchery
Where do you work?
I work at Fleisher’s Craft Butchery in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
What is a craft butchery?
Our focus is on being aware of the entire supply chain, from how farmers are raising livestock to what it looks like in the case. At every step, there are important values to adhere to and traditions to be aware of. We’re combining an old-school butchery tradition of cutting from whole animal with modern sustainability ideals about our slaughterhouses, what kind of feed the animals get and what their living conditions are like. We’re appealing to health-conscious people, to foodies, to the average Joe who really likes a good steak. We sell everything from bone broth to a rib-eye, and we try to create value for that, and honor it, so people understand that it’s all delicious and important to use.
What’s your role at Fleisher’s?
I am the CFO, which mostly means that I keep track of all the accounts. I write the checks. I do payroll. I do general management stuff. I make sure that people are spending things right. I just walk around and make sure the wheels don’t fall off the bus.
When did Fleisher’s first get involved with TransAlt?
I’ve been a longtime supporter, as a committed 365-day-a-year urban cyclist. I know [Transportation Alternatives Executive Director] Paul Steely White through friends in the West Coast cargo bike community. One of our investors, Aaron Naparstek, who is the founder of Streetsblog, believes strongly in this stuff. It felt like part of the community we appeal to: people who like to bike around tend to be oriented toward healthy living and they’re frequently omnivores so they like meat. We like meat, they like biking, it just seemed like a good fit.
Fleisher’s is part of the slow food movement. At TransAlt, we talk about the slow biking movement. Is there any connection?
Yes. For me, that’s why I have this cargo bike. I’ve been living in the city for going on nine years and I haven’t owned a car for any of it. I do all my grocery shopping for my family with that bike. For me, that’s what biking is all about. I’m faster than a car. I can park. I can get my meat, my milk, my eggs, my produce. I can go to work. I can drop my kid off at school.
And that’s connected to butchery?
Absolutely. It about resiliency and networks. Instead of: you leave work, you arrive at work and you don’t know what happened in between, being part of Fleisher’s and a cyclist, you can be on a bike, get your groceries, put it in one of our cooler bags, and you’re eating today what you bought today, what was butchered today. I think it’s a more pleasant, human-scale way of existing, where the interaction is with a person behind the counter who is cutting your meat and knows what to recommend and may know you because you’re a regular customer. For me, it’s all about scaling these interactions down to human-level things, where we can relate.
Last question: Is there an ideal post-ride cut of meat?
Yeah, there is. I’m going to say a grilled top sirloin. After an exhausting event, your body craves the protein and that glistening bit of fat that coats your tongue, that savory-salty flavor. I would be devouring slices of watermelon and slices of grilled top sirloin. I would go back and forth, rehydrating, getting the sugar, getting the protein, getting the fat, back and forth until I felt sated.