“I don’t think I’ll ever not be hands-on,” says Primal Supply owner Heather Marold Thomason. “I think it’s really just my personality.”
When Thomason opened her Philadelphia-based whole animal butcher business in 2016, her goal was to improve the local food supply chains that supported farmers. Now, thanks to her personal relationships with farms, her hands-on approach, and her dedication to teaching butchers and leaving little to no waste, Thomason’s three shops and online business offer meat from about 18 locally-sourced whole animals a week.
Each day, before she heads to the Primal Supply’s headquarters, Thomason’s checks emails to make sure that farmers and deliveries are all on schedule. Once at the facility, it’s a whirlwind of reviewing inventory, checking in on the cut room where all of the animals get broken down, training butchers, and overseeing the packaging and distribution that goes out to their shop, restaurants, online orders, and their “Butcher’s Club” subscription meat program.
Primal Supply receives about six whole beef every week, which equals 700 pounds of meat per carcass. Since only 70% of that can be used as cuts of meat to sell, Thomason relies on her in-house chef Damon Menapace to make the rest into sausages, lard, and broths and stocks to be sold at the store.
“The thing people don’t realize is how much work goes in behind the scenes,” she says. “The butchery is beautiful, but there needs to be a greater understanding of what it takes to get food to plates.”