So I’ve been trying to cut back on my meat intake. Well, that is, until I met Nate Anda of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s Red Apron Butchery. Anda shattered my dreams of a meat-free existence and replaced them with ridiculously delicious beef jerky and charcuterie. Every cured meat I tried from his line made me love pork. I was able to whip up pizzas, salads, cheese and breads.
I met Anda at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s market, and he loaded me up with recommendations, pointing out stalls with his favorite product pairings. I rushed home to try them and haven’t looked back since. His products are impeccable, and I couldn’t wait to talk to Anda about why meat, why DC and what he loved about them both.
Katie: How long have you lived in the DC area?
Nathan: Since January 2002
What is the best thing about DC, in your opinion?
Its a smaller city than New York and LA. It’s easy to get around, and I almost always run into somebody I know when I’m not planning on it (that can be good and bad I guess), and DC gets great concerts!
What would you change about DC if you could?
I can’t stand the traffic.
What inspired you to create Red Apron?
I have always had an appreciation for using local farmers and getting in the whole animal and finding ways to utilize everything. Michael Babin (owner of Neighborhood Restaurant Group) and I toyed with the idea of a butcher shop about 5 years ago and once EatBar opened, the menu was really meat/charcuterie based; that’s when the real research and development took place. After traveling to Italy a couple years back and seeing the salumerias and macelerias, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
In a time where the vegan movement is getting bigger and bigger, what is it about meat that draws you in?
The meat industry got a bad rap for a while (deservingly so), but now there are farm/farmers out there with morals; they are raising animals from start to finish on good diets without hormones and antibiotics. I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me at the farmer’’s markets to tell how beautiful everything is, then tell me that they’re a vegan or vegetarian. I even have customers that don’’t eat meat, but buy the products for their friends!
You have a lot of rotating products, what are your favorite charcuterie to create, and what are your favorite every day staples?
Red Apron would not be possible if it were not for the Hot Dog! It may not be our most popular product, but I love it. I have had a lot of fun experimenting with N’duja (nicknamed the red nutella) over the last year, and I think I have it down now. Of everything I am selling right now, my favorites are: Mortadella Dogs, Speck, Finochiona, Cicioli and Salami Coto Picante
Other than Red Apron, where can you find the best meat in DC?
Tallula and Vermilion! And anywhere that sells Eco-Friendly pork.
You sell your products at the farmer’s market, which to me, is a perfect place for them. What do you enjoy about being at the market, and what are you looking forward to about having an actual storefront?
I like the education, and getting people to try things they usually wouldn’t. I sell a lot of items that even I have a hard time saying correctly (a lot of Italian words), but having samples out gets people to try them. After a couple markets, you start to remember people and what they bought in the past and they become more willing to try items. When the storefront opens, I will have so many more products, and have a better outlet for experiments.
Name your ideal day in meals in DC, from breakfast through dinner.
1. 2 double shots of espresso at Chinatown Coffee
2. beef fajitas and margaritas at Los Tios in Del Rey, on the patio
3. Beer and bar snacks at Churchkey
4. Pizza at 2 Amys
5. Gelato and espresso at Dolcezza in Georgetown
Where do you spend your days off in the city?
Day off – what’s that? Just got a puppy, so I spend a lot of time following her around.
Find Anda and crew at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Markets on Sunday Morning, or purchase Red Apron products at Planet Wine Shop or Buzz Bakery.