Paradise Locker Meats Processes Some of the Best Pork in the Country.
We are so happy that we have been able to find such great food partners and pull them all together under one roof here at Friedrich's Market. I was over the moon when I found out that three of our food partners have been featured in Feast Magazine and Feast TV for the outstanding quality of their products. I am convinced it is because there is a little love in every bite. Like us, they are passionate about what they do. Paradise Meat Locker is one of those partners. Like us, their business has that personal quality. You get to know people, share ideas and advice. And their product is hands down the best meat I had in a very very long time.
(The original article appeared in Feast Magazine, see link below)
Paradise pork is served at some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country, including Momofuku and Del Posto in New York City. Some of our region’s most celebrated chefs – Justus Drugstore’s Jonathan Justus, The Rieger’s Howard Hanna, Novel’s Ryan Brazeal, Corvino Supper Club’s Michael Corvino, among others – prefer Paradise cuts for their menus. The meat that comes out of Paradise is widely regarded as some of the best in the country, and that’s largely thanks to the close partnerships the Fantasmas have with their farmers.
“We build long-term relationships with farmers so that they can plan their breeding and their facility production,” Louis says. “We want to work together over a long period of time, so we need to be able to trust someone when they tell us their hogs are raised outdoors, without antibiotics or hormones.”
Pork at Paradise comes from farms within a range of 5 to 300 miles of the facility. The pork that Heritage Foods buys is packaged under its own label, and the source farm is listed on each product. There are around 15 farms that provide pork for Heritage, and the Fantasmas use about 10 farms for their Fantasma’s Finest label.
“We look for very high quality in all our pork. There are a lot of [processing centers] where it doesn’t matter how good the meat is, as long as they meet the GAP requirements,” Louis says, referencing the Global Animal Partnership, a five-level animal-welfare program used by Whole Foods and other retailers. Louis emphasizes, however, that GAP is not a bad thing, but Paradise’s focus on quality sets it apart. “For us, it’s a lot different – we need the farmers to raise awesome pork. We’re true believers that the better the animals are taken care of, the better the meat is.”
That dedication to quality allows the Fantasmas to commit to the farmers they work with: Paradise agrees to purchase a certain number of pigs over a period of time, which enables the Fantasmas to have a steady supply of product and gives the farmers financial stability. Together, Louis and his father will visit farms and book hog purchases as much as six months in advance.
“We just went to Atchison, Kansas, and met a young couple starting their farm, and they wanted to raise hogs for a market like ours,” he continues. “It was neat for us to know that they were going to be starting their business and investing in their farm because we’re investing in them. It was also humbling for us to know that they had faith in our ability to get their product sold.”
Louis pauses. “We’re an integral part of their business and their livelihood, and that hits home for us on a regular basis.”
“We do a two-week dry age on a lot of pork, too,” Louis says, “and it brings a great flavor to it. We’ll dry age anywhere from two weeks to 75 days [for beef products], which happens more around Christmas.” Dry-aging pork is a relatively rare practice, and Louis says a customer request initially led Paradise to look into it. “Bottom line is, it was great, and we’ve been doing it ever since,” he says. Louis jokingly introduces the smoked and cooked meat section of the facility as “heaven,” but he’s not too far off. Walking into this area of the processing facility is like being on the receiving end of a warm, bacon-scented embrace. This is where Paradise produces items for its Fantasma’s Finest label, which includes more than 20 varieties of sausage, smoked chops and ribs, hamburger patties, ground turkey, ham, jerky, lunch meats and, of course, cured bacon.
MEET THE MEAT
Trimble is about 35 minutes north of Kansas City, and the Fantasmas freely acknowledge that the location is not ideal for a retail shop. Yet that has not stopped them from stocking the destination storefront attached to the facility with every sort of fantasy meat product you can think of. Plenty of these have blue ribbons hanging below the racks, denoting the top honors they’ve been awarded by the American Association of Meat Processors Convention, the Missouri Association of Meat Processors, the Missouri State Fair and the Wurstfest Sausage Competition – altogether, Paradise Locker Meats has collected more than 100 since 2007.
The sausage selection is almost overwhelming, and all the recipes are original; some are traditional, old-world recipes that have been in the family for generations, like the kielbasa, and some, like the Asiago and chive or the spinach and Feta, are new. Just about every cut of pork imaginable is stocked here, plus a handful of exotic offerings – buffalo rib eye, quail, elk loin.
“If someone is going to drive out of their way to Trimble, Missouri, we want to wow them,” Louis says. “And we have a lot of fun coming up with those recipes. There are certain times of the year when we put our heads together on product development. We’re Italian – feeding people is in our roots. It’s a joyful thing for us.”
The Fantasmas are always looking for innovative and delicious ways to decrease waste. A new partnership with Michael Beard, the former owner of 715 Restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas, has led the Fantasmas to produce a Tuscan-style soppressata from pork jowls and tongue under Beard’s Left Hand Butcher label.
“We do feel that just like producing safe food is our responsibility, doing as much as we can with the animal is also our responsibility,” Louis says.
You can find a fine selection of Paradise products at Friedrich's Market. We also offer weekly special orders for, steaks, meat bundles, exotic meats and any other cut we might not carry in-store. Call us for more information (816) 646-1301.
(This article was originally featured in Feast Magazine. For the full article please visit http://www.feastmagazine.com/features/kansas-city/article_8bcde33c-8766-11e7-a1db-cff53af4846d.html)