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Larissa Popa

Larissa Popa is The Meatstress’ head butcher, charcutier and chef. She was born in Detroit and raised in a Romanian, Hungarian and German household as a first generation U.S. citizen. The flavors of Eastern Europe surrounded her every day. No surprise that her love of all things began at a young age because some kind of pork dish was normally simmering away on the stove top during her youth.

She originally went to school to become a pharmacist, but the tradition of the kitchen led her back to the butcher block. Chef Larissa found her way to Livonia’s Schoolcraft College Culinary Arts Program where she found her calling in butchery class. She admits to struggling with chicken butchery at first, but when she was introduced to Dr. Temple Grandin (proponent of the humane treatment of livestock for slaughter.) it changed her whole outlook on meat. Like with many pastry chefs, charcuterie class made sense to Larissa and it also inspired her. Skills that she grew up with at home began to fall into place. Knowing how headcheese is made and where trotters come from or how animals were slaughtered was no longer obscure. Everything was coming back to her ethnic roots.

Larissa traveled to Southwest France to study the art of whole hog butchery and charcuterie with Kate Hill and Dominique Chapolard. Although the idea of eating nose to tail was always in her gypsy blood from her upbringing the process of nose to tail eating (nothing going to waste) is something The Meatstress finds important to share with others.

Larissa has been popping up in the Detroit food scene for the past few years. She has done popups at Motor City Wine, Menagerie, Kuhnhens, Parks & Rec Diner, POP (checker bar), St. Cece’s, and Great Lakes Coffee as Flora’s Village Kitchen. She predominately features charcuterie items, porky goodness, while staying near to her ethnic eastern European heritage. Some of you may also know her from her stint as the house butcher and charcutier at the Republic and recently at Lady of the House. She also acted as Chef Sean Loving’s sous chef at Schoolcraft College, assisting in Restaurant Operation and Lunch Service. Larissa also participated in the first Charcuterie Masters’ Competition in NYC this past February, and she was the only female chef competitor.  

As the Meatstress, Larissa wishes to educate and share with others the proper way to raise farm animals, what they are fed, and how the animal should live: pasture versus pens. Happy animals create delicious tasty meats! Knowing where we came from and keeping close to one’s heritage can show us how the future of food, cuisine and farming should be like. Staying close to one’s roots is not just for plants but for people too.

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