In north California, outside the town of Gazelle, near the Oregon border, the story of Belcampo begins. Belcampo raises cattle, chickens, pigs, turkey, sheep, and goats across 18,000 acres of land in an organic and sustainable manner. All animals are able to graze freely in the pastures and is animal welfare approved. 20 miles down the road from Gazelle, in Yreka, California, Belcampo operates a 20,000 square foot food processing plant called “Belcampo Butchery”. Not a typical meat processing plant that has a high level of automation, the butchery uses traditional hand-cutting methods which provides more skilled and higher-paying jobs to the local communities.
The meat is then delivered to seven Belcampo butcher shops and restaurants throughout California, including an outpost at Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles. This allows the company to completely manage the entire process of farm-to-table, ensuring that all points of the process meet their high expectations.
Belcampo also runs “Meat Camps” throughout the year at their farm in Gazelle where “guests stay in luxury tents in our orchard, enjoy family style meals under the stars, and participate in open-fire grilling, basic butchery, and knife skill lessons to gain a thorough understanding of meat cookery.” The cost is $1,400 USD per person (double occupancy, fork over another $600 if you want a tent to yourself), so it isn’t cheap. But it’s cool and showing where the market is moving. The June and September camps are already completely booked.
What are the take-aways for a concept such as Belcampo? A highly-controlled process of farm-to-fork, where a single entity grows, processes, and cooks the food you eat. Restaurants have already shown in recent years that they prefer to establish strong relationships with local farmers. I expect to see this more and more, even if not to such a large-scale as Belcampo.