Jenny…

. May 18, 2012.

She is an English teacher by day, a bloody butcher by night. Meet Jenny the Butcher.

Jennifer Tucker, 32, was born and raised in Hell, Michigan. When she was an 18 year old looking for a part time job, Chelsea Market butcher Jeffrey Flintoft took her under his wing. Jennifer met skepticism and resistance because of her youth and gender. This only made her more determined, waking up her “feminism” as she put it. Fifteen years later, she is the chief butcher at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, working under recent James Beard Award winner Chef Alex Young.

Jennifer takes her craft very seriously. She prefers “authentic” cuts, and tries to make each one nicer than the last. She likes seeing a finished product, “Something I created,” adding, “I consider it an art form, the whole culture that goes with it. I am grateful to Jeffrey for teaching me, and I want to honor his memory by doing it well, and passing it on to others.”

Jennifer’s paid her dues. She cleaned the meat floor, and cut a lot of chickens. She can now dissect an entire box in ten minutes. What’s the toughest part of being a butcher? “I can’t wear my wedding ring,” laments this fairly-newlywed, who just celebrated her second anniversary. (A knife tip may get caught, and cause injury.)

Jennifer has a BA in English and Biology from Eastern Michigan University, and teaches English at Washtenaw Community College. A recent Saturday had her awake
at 7am to grade papers, then teaching from 1 – 4pm.
After a quick meal with her Aunts Colleen and Laurie, she punched into Zingerman’s, where she worked until 2 AM. Although she may someday work in academia full time, Jennifer predicts she “will never leave the (meat) business completely.”

Zingerman’s is a rarity among local restaurants, cooking their burgers over a grill rather than a flattop, as Chef Alex likes the oak wood flavor. His 100% grass-fed beef comes from Zingerman’s own Cornman Farms ranch in Dexter. Thanks to Jennifer, it is ground fresh daily, coarser and loosely hand-packed, for maximum flavor and texture. Each burger comes “from one cow, and is not a blend,” notes Zingerman’s co-owner Ari Rosenzweig.

Ari likes his burgers just above rare, with pimento cheese and Arkansas bacon; Jennifer prefers plain
American cheese. “That’s her (small town) upbringing,” jokes Ari.

Jennifer also exemplifies the Zingerman’s service mantra. When our burger panel visited (see August Current), our server brought her out to visit, in her bloody apron, for a long and thoughtful discussion. When I followed up on short notice for this interview, Jennifer cheerfully gave me her time, despite a full restaurant. Butcher, English teacher, or both, Jennifer Tucker has worked hard, defied stereotypes, and served with honor in two disparate careers. Underestimate Jenny the Butcher at your peril.

Pierre W Photography is based in Ann Arbor and provides photography services for weddings and special events. They take a photojournalistic approach in capturing candid, real moments with timeless appeal. To find out more, call 734-331-0256 or visit www.pierreWphotography.com.

Trending

Tanager’s New Album ‘HZ Donut’: Premiering New Single “Tiny Galaxies”

The beautiful thing about the kinds of songs that Tanager make are how layered they are… These are guitars that envelop you, drums that pull you, melodic phrases that levitate you (and no, I’m not on drugs as I write this)… Those ethereal traits have always distinguished a Tanager song, a hybrid of coarse distortion

Have We Met?—The Dialogue Between Past and Present

It is heartrending to see that message, reverberated through the past and into the present. Cynics may be tempted to ask, “Have we really made any progress?”. Yet, above the calls of protest and activism, the gallery is also filled with silence, waiting for the viewer’s response to the question, “Will you change it?”

Moore Takes Aim at Both Parties in Fahrenheit 11/9

Flint’s story is essential to the film because it illustrates the power of greed and why corporate money has no place in government. Macroeconomics 101 tells us that corporations are beholden to one thing—their stockholders. Humans do not enter into this equation. How can you have a democracy for the people when corporate money runs the government? You can’t.

The Kelloggs—The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek

Following Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a prodigious doctor whose ecstasy over medicine overshadowed his regard for those closest to him, and his striving younger brother W.K., who toiled unappreciated under his brother before setting off on his own to great fame and success.