Sadie Farrington knows she’s not a stereotypical butcher. But the owner of the recently opened Tomboy Butcher Shop in Ilium has a passion for meat cutting that can be traced back to her childhood in Northern California.
“I grew up raising my own livestock. My family was very farm-to-table before that was a thing. Organic wasn’t something you could get at the grocery store, so I grew up like that, thinking that’s how everyone’s life was,” she said.
Attending college and working in fine-dining restaurants throughout San Francisco for 15 years, Farrington explained she didn’t feel a “connection” to her food, so she decided to apprentice with local butchers.
“I’m 120 pounds and small, and I don’t look like the normal person who would be interested in butchery,” she said. “I think they thought I would just lose interest and I didn’t. I showed up everyday, unpaid, and absorbed everything they were doing. I loved it.”
Studying mostly under French and Spanish butchers, Farrington learned to utilize the whole animal, and to understand how and where each one was harvested.
“They were very involved in how those animals were harvested, and (that there be) a calm environment whenever the animals were harvested,” she added.
Farrington moved to Telluride three years ago after taking family ski vacations to the area throughout her life. She opened the region’s only butcher shop less than a month ago. Duck, chicken, lamb, beef, pork, bison and bone broth are all available, and Farrington can special order cuts, such as oxtail, upon request. She’s currently taking orders for Thanksgiving turkeys; there are only 50 available, and it’s advisable to order sooner rather than later.
Orders, including wholesale and subscription meat boxes, can be placed via email (email@example.com) or on the shop’s website (tomboybutcher.com). Small and large boxes can be picked up monthly or bi-monthly the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 763 Vance Drive in Ilium between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Customers fill out a preference sheet, ensuring that each box is customized to that person’s tastes. Wholesale orders are typically ready within a week, Farrington said.
“I tailor it to someone’s tastes and cooking preferences,” she said. “Everybody gets a little something different, but it’s all from the same animal.”
All the meats are sourced within 100 miles of Telluride, including farms in Mancos and Hotchkiss. Farrington said she’s looking forward to working with regional farmers, as well.
“I’m definitely always trying to find great farmers who need a little bit more advocacy in our community,” she said.
Though she doesn’t process elk brought in by hunters due to U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations, she plans on teaching a class about it sometime in the future. Within the year, she’d also like to find a storefront in the Town of Telluride in order to open as a retail shop.
As a “one woman butcher show,” as she put it, there’s been a lot of excitement around Farrington’s new venture, which she appreciates.
“We have this amazing farming and ranching community and there’s not a lot of talk about getting clean, local meat, so I saw that as an opportunity to share some information and to help people feel less intimidated about getting cuts they’re less familiar with,” she said.
Her dedication to cutting meat, and for sourcing livestock humanely, is apparent — and she aims for zero waste.
“When I butcher, it makes me incredibly aware of being wasteful,” she said. “It’s inspired me to become a better cook, and to find ways to use the entire animal.”