Meat the Director of Purchasing: Michael LaRoche @ the Commissary


Earlier in the series, we featured Tim McMullen: Bill the Butcher’s Director of Operations. When we met with him at the commissary, Michael LaRoche sat to his left. Being Director of Purchasing, he is a hard-working man with an easygoing vibe. You pick up on it after talking with him for awhile. He takes his coffee black and unlimited, dabbles in music playing, sketching, reading literature, and cooks – of course he would! He is originally from Boston, and has adventured across the earth’s oceans to Amsterdam. Michael gave us plenty to laugh about during his interview. Check out what he has to say on life, giving, sustainability, and meat:

What are your thoughts on Jolkona’s Eat Local, Give Global campaign and its partnership with the Bill the Butcher shops?
It’s a very worthwhile endeavor. It’s getting people to be part of a growing community that wants to close in their food sources, to get to know it better, and to expand that to people in such challenged regions as Sudan. It gives them help in getting their food chain up and growing. The way we have it set up here, you see, is that big chains come in and control your food supply when it could be done locally.

Jolkona is a nonprofit which is centered around simplicity and visibility. How do you think Bill the Butcher fits in with such principles?
We’re certainly trying to be very visible. Simple – well, we are actually quite a complex system, while our idea is simple.

Local food, sustainable farming, grass fed beef: these have been dubbed as “megatrends.” Are these indeed just megatrends, or is there more to it than that this, is there more meat on the bone, as it were?
Corn-fed beef was the megatrend for the last 40 years. Before that it was grass-fed beef – as it was for 400 years. Or are we just back to what it used to be?

I read that Bill the Butcher shops are the “new marketplace” between farmers’ markets and grocery stores. Could you explain more about this?
Farmers used to have two options: sell their meat to the big conglomerates at a vast loss, or go sell that meat at the farmer’s markets. The first offers very little profit; the second is very time consuming. So we buy directly from the farmers at a fair price and sell it straight out of our shop.

With Bill the Butcher you’ve built “the world’s shortest supply chain.” Could explain more about this for our readers?
So for instance, take the Nelson family, I talk to Mr Nelson, and I say we need x amount of cattle and they have they x amount ready, that’s slaughtered on their farm by a mobile processor, and then we take the whole animal and sell it to you. Minimal middlemen. So now it doesn’t have to travel half way up the country to be slaughtered in one place, and then shipped – goodness knows where – to be sold  in another place.

Bill the Butcher has a very broad consumer appeal, why do you think this is?
People are starting to realize they have no idea where their food comes from. Eating is what you do three or four times a day. People want to start learning where it comes from and not that it just came from the frozen food section in the supermarket.

Which cut of meat do you think people should know more about?
Beef cheeks.

If you were a cut of meat, which would you be?
A round because I’m kind of an ass.

Empower women farmers in Sudan with farming education and sustainability efforts. Join our Eat Local, Give Global campaign! Bill the Butcher and Jolkona are the dream team making headway on this exciting project. Access the donation page online or stop at any of the shops to learn more and hold your own “interview” with the butchers!
Check out Laura Kimball’s launch post, or go the campaign page for more details.


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