Cole Ward grew up in the tiny Vermont town of Sheldon Springs. At the age of fourteen he began working part-time for a local butcher, washing meat trays and stuffing sausages for 20 cents a hour. At fifteen, he became an apprentice meat cutter at the local IGA, and in very few years was a master butcher specializing in whole-animal culinary butchery. In his early twenties, wanderlust took him out west to a job at LaFrieda Prime Meats at Los Angeles’s celebrated farmers’ market. The famous butcher shop was next to CBS studios, and Ward’s celebrity clients soon included Billy Crystal, Bernadette Peters, Perry Como, Edith Head, and Raymond Burr. He also did meat props and special set-ups for television sitcoms like Three’s Company.
In 1982, Cole returned to Vermont, where most of his large family lives. He worked in markets and supermarkets around the state, managed meat departments, and eventually began giving workshops and doing on-farm cutting. Now Cole mixes hands-on butchering with teaching; his encyclopedic knowledge of the meat sector makes him a sought-after lecturer and seminar leader at culinary academies, colleges, and agricultural and sustainable-living conferences. His full butchery course was recently released on the two DVD set The Gourmet Butcher. With the publication of this book, he is sharing the knowledge acquired over forty-five years of butchering. He is convinced that the more people know about where their meat comes from, the more control they will have over their own and their family’s health.