CALS graduates the first-ever Wisconsin Master Meat Crafters

Last Friday, 18 Wisconsin meat processors from small plants around the state were the first-ever graduates of the UW’s Master Meat Crafter Training Program. They’ve earned the right to call themselves Master Meat Crafters and to use the Master Meat Crafter seal, which was unveiled at the graduation ceremony.

“I’m proud of what this group accomplished,” says Jeff Sindelar, who developed and ran the training program. “They exceeded my expectations, and hopefully all of them will go back to their businesses with a deeper appreciation and understanding of what they do, as well as a renewed excitement for the craft.”

Sindelar, a CALS assistant professor of animal sciences and UW-Extension Meats Specialist, started the program in the summer of 2010 in order to give the state’s small meat processors the opportunity to get advanced training in the principles of meat processing and become experts in their field. Meat is big business in Wisconsin, contributing $12.3 billion to the state’s economy each year, and many of the state’s 475 meat processors are small.

Participants came to campus a number of times over the course of the program for classes and hands-on workshops. They also did projects for class in their own meat plants and shared their results just before the graduation ceremony.

One participant developed a method to measure the shelf life of hot dogs and has made it freely available to all small meat processors. “These things exist, but only for big companies, and their procedures are internal and proprietary,” says Sindelar. “This is one of the first non-proprietary methods available.”

The 2012 graduates are:

Nate Barden; Pardeeville, WI

Roy Barden; Pardeeville, WI

Matthew Bayer, Country Fresh Meats; Weston, WI

Mike Clark, Lodi Sausage Company; Lodi, WI

Bennett Fraboni, Fraboini’s Itilian Specialties; Monona, WI

Andrew Geiss, Geiss Meat Service; Merrill, WI

Jennifer Hoeppner, Quality Cut Meats; Cascade, WI

Dusten Hoesly, Hoesley’s Meats; New Glarus, WI

Craig Huth, Richland Locker; Richland Center, WI

Jim Johnson, Ottos’ Meats; Luxemburg, WI

Louis Muench, Louie’s Finer Meats, Inc.; Cumberland, WI

Rick Reams, RJ’s Meats & Groceries; Hudson, WI

Judson Rechek, Rechek’s Food Pride; Beaver Dam, WI

Jeff Roberts, Glenn’s Market & Catering; Watertown, WI

Steve Roman, Whitetail Country Meats; Hayward, WI

Jake Sailer, Sailer’s Food Market & Meat Processing, Inc.; Elmwood, WI

Jeff Schmalfeldt, Lake Geneva Country Meats, Inc.; Lake Geneva, WI

Dave VanHemelryk, Maplewood Meats; Green Bay, WI