Review: Olliffe Butchery Classes (Chickens!)

Did you eat chicken today?  Probably. We eat a lot of chicken in this country. In fact, the average Canadian ate 30kg per person in 2012. This is the 17th highest per capita consumption in the world. Jamaica is first with 53kg per person.

So if you did eat chicken, did you cook it? Did you cut it apart? Did you touch it? Do you know where it came from and the conditions in which it was raised? Is it local?


If you’re like me, touching raw meat is kind of a complete nightmare. I tend to not cook with meat very often because of this. I make a lot of quinoa and lentil-based meals and when I do cook with meat, I buy it in bags or packages that I can open with out touching the meat and just throw it into a crockpot or a roasting pan to be further handled with tongs.  That is, until I went to an Olliffe Butchery Class by Erica Jamieson.

Erica has gotten some great media coverage for being a badass lady butcher in a world that’s mostly men… and I agree wholeheartedly… but more than that, she’s just REALLY good at her job. And now she is starting to offer classes at Olliffe’s Leslieville location to ‘demystify meat.’

There are cuts of meat that people don’t usually buy from the case at butcher shops because they just don’t know what they’re called or what they’re like. Her focus in these classes is to give people a wider knowledge of different cuts that are more delicious. And it might seem like an unwise decision for her to teach these skills in a class… I mean, might she make herself obsolete?

As Erica so sharply puts it in this interview:

“…people don’t tend to be elbow deep in pork too often. I’m pretty used to it.

This is more about … well the more comfortable you are with your food, the more you enjoy it. And the more apt you are to ask for different cuts… and kind of experiment… which is the whole focus of the class.

Some people tend to find butcher shops intimidating and they don’t know what to ask for and they kind of ask or the same thing all the time. …

And as for the sustainability of being a butcher… and for anything in the food industry, it’s better to be able to use the entire animal.  I’m just trying to teach people how to be able to do that!”

Some of her classes are demonstrative, meaning that Erica will ‘break down’ a larger piece of meat and explain the different parts. In these classes, she provides a charcuterie selection that is made from the animal that’s being broken down, or a cooked piece of the cut that’s being demonstrated. According to her, the cuts that are rarely ordered are sometimes the most delicious.

So a few Wednesdays ago, I went to a Poultry class and handled chicken like I’ve never done so before. I’m a changed woman. The following photos are pretty much a journal of my experience from start to finish, minus the times when I was wrist-deep in locally sourced chicken.

So I took home two chickens and fed 8 hungry cottagers for two meals in Collingwood. One was the cut up parts done in a slow cooker with a sliced onion, and some bbq sauce for some pulled bbq chicken. The other I stuffed with some thyme, half a lemon, and lots of salt and pepper before roasting it at 375 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes.  Pretty much the most satisfying meals I’d had in years… because I’d played a part in their preparation.

So, in short, I highly recommend these classes. They’re fun, informative, and you’re playing a part in keeping the art of local butchering alive.

Plus Erica’s amazing and you should really take the time to meet her before she becomes enormously famous.

The next poultry class is this Wednesday.

To sign up or get more information, send her a message on her Facebook page here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
1378 Queen Street East

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