Growing up in San Francisco, Ryan Farr started his culinary career as a dishwasher. Eventually working as a cook, Farr decided to take the next step and attending Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School (now the Institute of Culinary Education). After school, Farr moved back home and started cooking with Melissa Perello at Charles Nob Hill.
When Perello moved to Hotel Palomar’s restaurant Fifth Floor, Farr followed. In his three years cooking at Fifth Floor, he earned the title of executive chef and helped the restaurant win a coveted Michelin star. In 2007, he became opening chef de cuisine at Elizabeth Falkner’s Orson, honing his butchery skills and developing a passion for all things meat. After leaving Orson, Farr joined local nonprofit CHEFS and began teaching professional kitchen skills to people re-entering society from challenging circumstances. The experience gave him an up-close look at how people source their food and continued to drive his interest in wholesome foods.
Farr founded 4505 Meats in 2009 with his wife Cesalee. The company initially started small, selling chicharrónes to local bars before expanding to farmers markets with a prepared foods menu. Farr also began teaching butchery classes out of a 3,000-square foot warehouse in Hayes Valley and published his first butchery book, Whole Beast Butchery in 2011. The next year the team opened their Mission district meat shop, 4505 Meats, a product of Farr's experience, voracious appetite, and dedication to great meat products.
Interview with 2013 San Francisco Bay Area Rising Star Chef Ryan Farr
Katherine Sacks: How did 4505 Meats start out?
Ryan Farr: I’ve always been into whole animal utilization, ever since I moved from New York. We started 4 years ago, doing chicharrónes for bars and then got the farmers markets. Then we started selling cuts to people, doing a meat CSA. This space opened four weeks ago, and we have another large facility in Hayes Valley where we do all of the classes and a lot of catering operations.
KS: How did you raise funding for 4505 Meats?
RF: We sold meat. We didn't work with investors in the beginning; we saved the money from the meat sales to start the company. But we worked with investors for this space.
KS: How do you inspire your staff?
RF: I’m really fortunate to have a solid crew, they are in control of what they are doing. I'm lucky to be able to run around. What’s most inspiring is dealing with superior product from these farmers, this meat from these farmers is so freaking good. A lot of our customers ask for things they had growing up, we do research and make it.
KS: What are the three most important ingredients in good charcuterie?
RF: Cold meat, good math, and you have to know what good charcuterie tastes like.
KS: Why are you focused on sausages more then cured salumi?
RF: The main ingredient is your environment; I haven't been interested in buying a fridge just to make salumi. We started this company with zero money and to make something that has to wait for 6 months and looses such a percentage of its weight and not know if it would work or we would be able to sell it, we weren’t that interested. I worked at Fifth Floor before this for three years and we made a lot there. I never sat down and said I didn’t want to make salumi, it’s just not really what we do.
KS: What is the most challenging thing you’ve done?
RF: Opening this company, the hardest thing ever without a doubt. Writing books are hard, babies are hard. One year we wrote a book, had a baby, and opened a business. It’s just about balancing.
KS: Where will we find you in five years?
RF: We definitely plan on continuing to grow, we've grown substantially in the past four years. We don't want to have the same amount of growth, don't want to double employees, but we do plan to have a couple more of these types of shops.