Interview: Pat LaFrieda Jr., CEO of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors

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Patrick “Pat” LaFrieda Jr. is the CEO of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, a 100-year old third-generation company that supplies exclusively American-raised meat to some of the best restaurants in the country, including a special blend for Shake Shack. In this interview, Pat shares his essential office and hunting gear, how he hustles to run his business, and why his butchers use only Victorinox knives, whose culinary line of products is suitable for both home cooks and professionals alike.

Tell us about your company. What is your typical work day like?

My work schedule is erratic, in that I start my work day at 3 pm and end at 5 am. Starting at 3 pm allows me to overlap with the day staff and exchange information, as in what is needed for that night's production. The production of meat begins at 6 pm and I oversee the entire process of dry aging, portioning, grinding and order fulfillment. Most restaurant kitchens are cleared of work by 10:30 pm, so from that time on, I receive many calls from chefs to consult on their menus in the meat category.

At least three nights out of six, every week, chefs will come for a facility tour to get inspired about the possibilities of using different meat items. When my crew takes their lunch break at 9:30 pm, I go to the gym and put an hour and a half in heavy weight lifting to keep in shape and to break up my day a bit. Meat production ends at 6 am and the rest of the day is spent on sanitizing the facility and restocking. Our offices are busy all day in AR, AP, Sales and Customer Service. This time of year, the fall, is great to sneak out to my property in Western NJ and bowhunt for a few hours immediately after work.

What principles guide how you run your business?

The principles that guide my business are not complex nor are they new ideas. We fight to stay cutting edge on meat sourcing, for this is half of what we have to offer. The other half is service and for that, we work twenty-four hours to ensure that it happens. Becoming family, not just friends, with our customers has been paramount in keeping relationships for decades. With an open and honest relationship, the communication between purveyor and chef can work through any problem or issue. The most important principle is to lead our team by example. The fact that my cousin, my dad, and I work longer hours than our team as opposed to sipping cocktails on a beach, shows commitment and leadership which equates to respect.

What's in your work-day carry?

I don't attend a business meeting without my Bosca day planner. Taking notes, as opposed to typing on a tablet, is perceived as more professional and caring. I always carry my orange Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter XT. It cuts through anything, including field dressing a deer. My Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X is what I use most. With that in my pocket I save countless trips to the tool room, as it has all the basics in it. I like to scout a lot on my free time, so I seldom go anywhere without my Garmin GPMS Map 64st. Due to the nature of my business and with safety as a main concern, not to mention the black bear infested property that I traverse, my registered Glock 19 9mm is always close by my side, and I have a full carry permit for it. In a world where technology dictates, losing power is a nightmare. For this reason, I carry Brookstone's battery back up, Model: ST-PR-2C. It will charge a dead iPhone from zero to one hundred in minutes. At work, for cutting meat, our entire company operates with one of two knives only, the Victorinox 6" Fibrox Pro Boning Knife or the Fibrox Pro Cimeter.

We've heard that your love of meat extends to going out and hunting. What are your essential items for hunting?

For hunting, the Garmin GPS, my Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter Pro for breaking down and skinning deer, my orange Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter XT for cutting just about anything else, a Summit climber treestand Viper Elite SD, and my Ten Point Vapor Crossbow.

What qualities do butchers look for in knives?

Butchers look for tools that are going to be there for them every day and help them get their work done with as little resistance as possible. Victorinox is reliable and keeps a sharp edge longer than any other knife on the market, besides the fact that it also it priced at considerably less than anything else in its class.

What is something everybody should know about cutting meat?

The biggest mistake regarding the cutting of meat is to use the wrong knife or one that is not sharp. This will lead to damaged product or an injury by cutting oneself because unnecessary pressure was used to slice through, causing additional recoil. Although a Victorinox knife keeps a sharp edge longer than any other, eventually it will dull. Having a knife service come once a week and exchange our knives with newly sharpened ones is vital. For the average household, this should be done semi-annually.

With the holidays quickly approaching, now is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to the professional-quality knives that will take your feasts to the next level. Victorinox's extensive line of cutlery has knives for every occasion at a price point that’s hard to beat.

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Keep up with Pat on Twitter and learn more about his business (or order meat for home-delivery) at his site, Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

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Discussion (3 total)

like the planner I'm an analog man myself
Night train with meat...
I dont see a sheath, which means some of these double for defensive carry!

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