Meat markets make their mark

by Lawrence Aylward
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Emmett Dufresne, co-operator of Emmett's Fine Meats & Seafood
Entrepreneurs like Emmett Dufresne, co-operator of Emmett's Fine Meats & Seafood, found opportunity in the meat business after Hurricane Katrina.

NEW ORLEANS – Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans food industry is vibrant as ever. In fact, there are hundreds more restaurants in New Orleans in 2015 than there were before the hurricane decimated the city.

There are new meat markets, too, including Emmett’s Fine Meats & Seafood and Cleaver & Co. Both are operated by New Orleans natives who have a passion for food and the city they live in.

Emmett’s, co-operated by butcher Emmett Dufresne, offers nearly 70 varieties of gourmet sausage, fresh meat, stuffed chickens, turduckens and other items. Cleaver & Co., co-operated by Nathaniel Wallace, specializes in fresh meat including Wagyu beef, grass-fed beef, pork, rabbit, duck, chicken and gourmet sausage.

“I don’t think a place like this could have existed before Hurricane Katrina,” Wallace says. “Some grocery stores had nice meat departments, but they didn’t offer a locally sourced grass-fed cow or locally raised Wagyu beef.”

Wallace describes Cleaver & Co. as “a butcher-prepared meals shop.” He and his uncle, Daniel Sinclair, purchased Cleaver & Co. earlier this year from Seth Hamstead, who opened Cleaver & Co. in 2012. He sold the business to focus on Continental Provisions, a new sandwich shop located in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Nathaniel Wallace, co-operator of Cleaver&Co.
Nathaniel Wallace, co-operator of Cleaver&Co., and his uncle saw an opportunity to offer customers locally sourced meats.

“My uncle and I saw an opportunity,” says Wallace, who plans to introduce sausage and hot dogs made with Wagyu beef at Cleaver & Co. He and his uncle raise Wagyu cattle on a pasture about 50 miles from the city.

Dufresne, a former meat cutter at Langenstein’s, an upscale New Orleans’ grocery store, says business has been increasing every year since Emmett’s opened five years ago. Dufresne is a skilled sausage maker and likes to test and tinker different tastes and varieties. Dufresne wants Emmett’s to become the go-to place for fresh sausage.

“We’ve had a couple varieties that never saw the light of day, but we have had some real winners,” Dufresne says. Sausage varieties include barbecue shrimp, crawfish etouffee boudin, chicken creole tomato and basil, muffaletta, pizza and taco.

Emmett’s has the feel of an old-time butcher shop with its checkered floor. Customers also receive old-time butcher service.

“A lot of big stores don’t do customer service too much,” Dufresne says. “That’s what this town likes…to interact with a butcher or to find out how to cook something.”

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