About the PMC

The Portland Meat Collective brings local meat to local people. It’s a network of Portland citizens who are looking for a cost-effective way to buy meat directly from Oregon’s small ranchers and farmers. While the PMC draws on meat CSA models that have popped up around the country, it is also an up-close-and-personal traveling butchery school. The PMC not only helps consumers procure whole steers, pigs, or lambs directly from small Oregon farms. We also provide butchery and charcuterie classes for the proud new owners of those animals, so that they can learn how to transform those sides of pork into chops, bacon and ham roasts. In our classes, students decide how they want their animal carved up and they do all the butchering themselves, with the help of the PMC’s diverse group of instructors. Students wield knives and bags of curing salts, and they learn what to do with all those specialty cuts once they’re at home in the kitchen. The PMC brings a dynamic, local, sustainable approach to buying and eating meat straight to the people.


History of the PMC

In January 2009, Camas Davis, a magazine editor and writer who had worked for publications such as National Geographic Adventure and Saveur magazine lost her job as the managing editor and food editor at Portland Monthly magazine. While she’d largely focused on food and drink reportage during her ten-year career, she found herself feeling suspicious of the amount of time she’d spent in her head (and in front of a computer) bumping around the somewhat abstracted and distant world of narrative and storytelling. She felt she’d somehow lost a part of herself, the part that enjoyed getting her hands dirty.

So, like any responsible victim of the recession, she decided to start fresh, drop just about everything she knew, and learn to become a butcher. (For some of her meanderings on the nature of this sort of decision, click here, or maybe here, or give the archives a whirl.) Unfortunately, and somewhat surprisingly, there wasn’t anyone willing to teach her where she lived in food-obsessed Portland, Oregon, aside from a few friendly chefs who allowed her to watch from the sidelines while they broke down whole lambs and sides of beef for their restaurants.

But through a good friend, a generous acquaintance, and a family of open-minded strangers, she was able to secure a butchery and charcuterie internship in the fertile southwest region of France. For one summer, she lived part-time at the Kitchen-at-Camont cooking school and guesthouse, and worked in the sal de coupe (or cutting room) owned by the Chapolards, a family of butchers and farmers. It was there that she began her journey into the world of raising, cutting, and curing meat. (To learn more about Camas’ time in France, click here.)

When she returned to Portland, Camas wanted to keep learning and practicing butchery, but still couldn’t find such opportunities. So she decided to start her own butchery school and convinced some of Portland’s most seasoned chefs and butchers to teach the classes. Much to her surprise, Camas wasn’t the only person in Portland who wanted to learn. The classes continually sold out. More and more teachers—from Adam Sappington, chef and owner of Country Cat Dinnerhouse & Bar to Bob Dickson of Dayton Natural Meats, Tray Satterfield formerly of Pastaworks and Eat Oregon First, David Padberg of Park Kitchen, Ben Meyer of Grain & Gristle, Scott Ketterman of Crown Paella, and Gabriel Claycamp of Alchemy in the Kitchen—signed on to teach. As Camas learned alongside her students, she became more skilled, and began teaching some of the classes herself.

In the PMC’s first year, over 300 students signed up for more than 30 butchery, sausage-making, curing, cooking, and slaughter classes. Since then, over 1000 students have attended classes. The PMC community of farmers, chefs, butchers, and consumers continues to expand each day.